Why we must defend the institution of marriage

News Weekly 1 Sep 2012
This is the address given by the president of the National Civic Council, Peter Westmore, to the National Marriage Day Rally outside federal parliament on August 14, 2012.
I also wish to express my grateful thanks to the members of parliament who have joined us here today. Our rally today has particular significance, because shortly our parliament will be called upon to vote on bills designed to change the definition of marriage. All of you will have heard the saying, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee”. I want to take that metaphor today in a different direction. Horses and camels are, in many ways, similar. They look somewhat similar. They are large animals, with four strong legs capable of carrying heavy weights. Both are able to move quickly. The bodies of both of them are covered in hair. But if someone said to you that a camel is a horse, you would rightly say: it is not. And even if a parliament were to define a camel as a horse, it would remain a camel. So it is with natural marriage, the union of a man and a woman voluntarily entered into for life, as our parliament unanimously reaffirmed in 2004, and as every society has recognised since time immemorial. To recognise this is not to demean other relationships. It is simply to say they are different. Australian law on partnerships has existed since the colonial era, and it is common to call people who cohabit — whether married or unmarried, heterosexual or of the same sex — partners. Same-sex couples are not husband and wife, and they are not married, because marriage refers to a different type of relationship.

We often hear media commentators say that the push for same-sex marriage is inevitable. If we listen only to the chattering classes, we could believe this to be true. But in fact, it is not true. There were over 200 countries competing in the Olympic Games, but same-sex marriage is performed in only 11 countries, most of which are in Western Europe, and in a small minority of states of the USA. In other words, same-sex marriages are not performed in over 190 countries, including Australia, which cover around 95 per cent of the world’s population. We are in the majority.
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