When Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby appeared on the ABC’s Q and A program I listened as he used his stock standard approach, which is essentially along the lines of “I don’t mean to be rude, but you stink” mentality.
Again and again he talks about nobody wants to see anyone being hurt, then leaps in to hurting people.
In my 20 minute video I talk about some of the arguments being used by Shelton, and I reflect on the bullying that I was subjected to during my school years.
Yesterday I wrote about how I wasn’t reading so much from those who oppose marriage equality in Australia, and here I am with another blog about it!
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton manages to do his very best to look like a dick, he doesn’t need my help. Let me just run through his latest media announcement following an essay written by Penny Wong where she writes:
“The ‘think of the children’ argument is among the most hurtful in the marriage equality debate,” Senator Wong has written in an essay in The Monthly magazine.
“It posits that gay and lesbian relationships harm children, that gay and lesbian parents are bad parents.”
Queue the waaambulance rider Lyle to tell us all just how silly Penny Wong is and how it’s not about her parenting skills, but it is really:
Kids’ rights to wherever possible be raised by their mother and father cannot be left out of the marriage debate, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.
This is simply a bold-faced assertion that has no merit. It’s an attempt to create division in the community where none actually exits. The christian thinking on this can be summarised in 10 points:
God made Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve got married by God and had kids
God makes it clear that this is his plan for parenthood.
God made gay people and told the straight people that the gays are an abomination.
God told the straight people to kill the gay people by stoning them to death.
Christians aren’t allowed to stone anyone, not even adulterers, any more.
Christians still think gay people are evil and deserve death but don’t say so out loud.
Because gays are evil, they want to convert kids, therefore they pretend the only way to have a family is to get married and have kids.
They don’t like to be reminded that same-sex couples already have kids and their families do just as well, if not better than other families.
Gays must not ever be given any rights, and if they are we must still make suggestions that they are trying to recruit children into their ranks.
Mr Shelton was responding to comments by Labor frontbencher Penny Wong implying that the child-centred argument should not be used in the debate about redefining marriage.
That’s right, it shouldn’t. It’s not relevant. Same-sex parents already have children, have done for as long as there has been same-sex relationships. They are doing really well.
“We all know that kids sometimes miss out on a mother or father because of tragedy or desertion, but same-sex marriage causes this as a result of government policy,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.
Well no, marriage equality does no such thing. It simply allows everyone to have equality before the law, and those couples that already have children will continue to have them. Nothing really changes. He is also more or less saying that kids who are missing one parent are better off than those with two parents of the same-sex.
“Our objection to the state redefining marriage is not that same-sex parents cannot be good parents – of course they can be.
Then why are you using it as an objection? Seems counter-intuitive. We all know that the real reason, never stated, is that you view homosexuality as a sin, therefore known sinners can not be in charge of children as they will corrupt the children, and that can’t be a good thing. Keep the evil sinners away from children!
“The concern is that no matter how great a mum is, she is not a father. And however great a dad is, he is not a mother.
This is just a nonsense sentence. What does it even mean? This is probably some creepy stereo-typing, you know, fathers can’t talk to their daughters about sex stuff.
“If this view is wrong then we need to tell the scores of people out there who lament having grown up without either a mother or a father that they really didn’t miss out on anything.
More nonsense. Who is writing this stuff? Scores of children? Is that similar to the scores of people who already hate their father, but love their mother? How do you tell them that they missed out on something? Why are you so sure that children of same-sex parents lament not having one of the sexes represented? What about those that keep close relationships with biological parents?
“We would have to tell them that their regret is irrational and false.”
Or perhaps you tell them, oh I don’t know, the truth? You were adopted, we had a surrogate mother, and then maybe, here’s you dad’s phone number, shall we call him?
Mr Shelton said there are many children that are brought up in alternative family structures, including those whose parents have divorced.
“But when making public policy we should have the very best intentions for our children and aim for what is ideal,” Mr Shelton said.
So, you’re saying Lyle, that same-sex parents don’t have the very best intentions for their children? Is that it? That two dads don’t really have the best intention for their children? That’s quite a statement to make. You are also claiming that my friends who are same-sex parents have no idea about what is ideal for their very happy and well-adjusted children. Have you noticed, Lyle, in the world all the children growing up in opposite-sex households who are not doing very well at all?
Mr Shelton said that policy debates must be had even when they deal with hard subjects.
Of course. This isn’t a debate from you though, is it? It’s more a string of words and stereo-types that has no rational basis. You really believe that people should grant you a platform to say outrageous things and not defend them or provide a basis for your objections.
“If the opportunity to make these arguments in a respectful way is not allowed, then the issue of same-sex marriage will not be openly discussed and debated in the lead-up to the plebiscite. Everything must be on the table for open discussion as the Australian people work through the merits of this policy proposal.
There are plenty of discussions going on. And when you talk about respect, you just said that same-sex parents don’t have the best intentions of their children at heart, that they shouldn’t have children and that they are lousy parents.
“It is not possible to provide the benefits of so-called marriage equality without lifting Australia’s prohibition on commercial surrogacy and again allowing anonymous sperm donation.”
‘Provide the benefits’? You don’t need marriage to ‘provide the benefit’ of being a parent. Also, marriage equality is not ‘so-called’. It just is. And why not allow more children in the world. Isn’t that what you want?
Mr Shelton said it was good that there was to be a people’s vote on changing the definition of marriage because there were big consequences for children.
That’s just another bold-face assertion that has no basis in anything other than the list of 10 things above.
Nothing much will change for families when we allow all parents to have their relationship formally recognised by the State. In fact, a lot more love will happen, families will be happier, children will be healthier. Life will be better for everyone, except maybe for people who think same-sex attracted people are detestable.
I’ve spent the last 10 years reading widely the thoughts on what the christian right has to say about homosexuality, discrimination, marriage equality and the way they think the world should be. Last year I pulled back, I unsubscribed from various blogs and newsletters and turned my back on the intolerance and hatred coming from those that would dearly love to return to the basic tenets of their religion, where they were right, homosexuals should be stoned to death and women are nothing more than their personal servants. I can’t say I’ve missed them.
Every now and then I like to check in, as I did with Lyle Shelton the head priest at the Australian Christian Lobby. He does this sort of pretend radio spot and puts it up on the website, so I had a listen, as he was talking to David Van Gend, a bloke who thinks he has authority because he’s catholic and a doctor.
I love to flex my mind and listen to their reasons why I shouldn’t be allowed to get married, here I’m unpacking some of what they have to say. You’ll find the full audio and transcript linked at the bottom.
The blog is pretty long, sorry about that.
We start with Lyle doing the intro.
Ever since the Greens member from Melbourne Adam Bandt stood up in the Federal Parliament in December 2010 and moved a motion that MPs consult with their constituents about changing the definition of marriage. The so called gay marriage debate has been on in earnest.
It’s been happening since the Australian Government changed the marriage act in 2004, and it has been earnest, that bit is right.
It’s been five long years as a small minority of activist urged by a willing media have kept this issue alive in the public square and in politics, despite opinion polls seemingly showing majority support for the idea of changing the definition of marriage. The polls also show it’s a very low order issue with voters. It is well down the list of people’s priorities that they think politician should be focusing on.
By defining the group agitating for change as a ‘small minority’ is to suggest that because it’s a small group it’s unimportant, put that in with the idea that people think there are more important things to worry about is saying just how unimportant the whole debate is. The easy answer is then to simply change it as most people think the change should happen, gets it off the table to focus on more important things. It’s also important to remember that Lyle thinks that he his being denied his right to free speech, somehow the small minority is the only voice that is being heard by the willing media.
We should also note that the Australian Christian Lobby is a small minority, he is suggesting that they are somehow significant.
The same-sex political juggernaut has seemingly been unstoppable
Oh good, a small minority that is a political juggernaut! Such power that doesn’t seem to have been successful yet.
…last week in London the same-sex political agenda suffered a significant setback. Anglican Primates from around the globe met to consider the issue because leaders of their church in the United States and Canada have accepted same-sex marriage in defiance of the bible’s teaching. Instead of endorsing the North American’s capitulation to the culture, the 27 of the 36 voting Primates voted to actually censure the North American Church for straying from Christian teaching on marriage.
Perhaps he could define how this is significant. The anglicans did just what they are supposed to do. Play by the rules of their religion. You’ll note that this ‘significant setback’ has not got the United States or Canada governments rushing legislation through to comply with the Anglican Primates biblical teaching. Nothing has changed really, just a bunch of men (are there any women here today?) in silly hats telling another bunch of men in silly hats that they can’t play with each other for a couple of years.
This is very, very significant. It just goes to show that with courage and conviction this agenda can be turned.
One man who has been showing great courage for many years in this battle is Toowoomba GP and president of the Australian Marriage Forum Doctor David Van Gend. Last year Dr. Van Gend had his doctor surgery spray painted with the word bigot and television advertisements that he produced refused broadcast by the tax payer funded SBS. Dr. Van Gend joins me on the line now, welcome to the program David.
Oh the man is a hero, someone sprayed bigot on his surgery and SBS refused to show his ads on the tele. Give the man a medal!
Lyle Shelton: David, this meeting of Anglican Primates. I made much of that in that in the introduction because I do think it’s significant that when people stand up, this agenda can be resisted and can be turned around and that’s something you’ve been doing in your work and private capacity as president of the Australian Marriage Forum.
Doctor David Van Gend: I think so because a lot of people understand that there’s something enormous at stake with marriage.
Seriously? Like what, the end of civilisation perhaps. Everyone agrees that Ireland is heading towards full destruction, New Zealanders are all turning gay and that the US has found the hand-basket and now slipping on the slope to the pits of hell.
It’s not a religious issue so much with Anglican or with people have every right to weigh in on this.
The anglicans seem to think it’s about what’s in the bible, that sounds like a religious issue. But Van Gend is right, it’s not a religious issue, it’s a civil issue and people from everywhere are weighing in on it.
It’s about the truth of nature that marriage is a man, woman thing in our culture because it’s a male, female thing in nature.
This is just a nonsense. There is no marriage in nature, when was the last time you saw a moose priest preside over the marriage of a buck and a doe? Do they sign their certificate with the horns? Marriage is a human construct, probably an extension of the males desire to lord it over the woman and be the boss.
It only exists doesn’t it because male, female relations typically have been momentous consequence of creating children and children need the love and protection of a mother and father.
So now it only exists because of children? Before it was a natural thing. Just a reminder, there is actually nothing momentous about having children. Have a look around, the whole of our biodiversity rests on our ability to reproduce. It’s pretty commonplace and happens all the time without marriage. While we’re talking about love and protection, sadly that’s not actually the case. This is a fanciful notion that once married you live happily ever after. We all know the reality of filicide, familicide, mariticide and suicide.
They need the identity and the belonging that goes with being bound to their real mum and dad. That is what marriage achieves. For every child marriage gives them a mum and dad and so-called homosexual marriage makes that impossible. Impossible and that’s the injustice mate.
Mate, listen up, there are plenty of kids out there growing up in families with same-sex parents. They actually don’t have identity issues. The injustice is trying to make the world fit your flawed model. Families are made up of many different types of formations, your ideal is just one of many. Each have their own merit, none is the best.
Lyle Shelton: Now. This isn’t about being anti any people you just very eloquently said what marriage is and why it’s a justice issue for children
Good Lyle, it’s not about being anti-gay, despite the fact that Van Gend just said gay people can’t really have children. It’s impossible.
but you’re a doctor and you see people from all walks of life including same-sex attracted people and your advocacy for marriage is not in any way motivated by any animus towards people.
He’s a doctor! He sees gay people! He has no animus towards people like me. Keep that in mind. The good doctor from Toowoomba sees gay people. And note this sideways move now, he moves to talking about sexuality and connecting people’s same-sex attraction with marriage. The two really aren’t connected.
Doctor David Van Gend: I don’t think it’s possible, yeah, I don’t think it’s possible to know especially young gay people but older ones too, I don’t think it’s possible to know them and not just want to put your arm around them and say, “Look, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.” Something’s happened, something’s happened to put you in a position of, to these patients I see, of considerable suffering and anguish. They don’t know where this attraction came from. They don’t know why they go it, they don’t know what to do with it and a number of them have a conflict between those feelings and their own convictions about what marriage and parenting and family is. This is sets up a terrible tension and I think that tension can be resolved. I think we need to get to a very clear position in Australia. Where gay couples have all the liberties and all the equality of any other couple, any other couples married or defacto that as you know Lyle, they already have all that liberty and called.
Where to even start. Now the GP is a psychologist, I’d like to see his qualifications. He wants to hug gay people and tell them everything is ok, as if that will somehow help people come to terms with their sexuality. People like me, he suggests, don’t know where this attraction comes from, but that’s ok, because he has the answers. It’s because something has happened to put me in this position, therefore it can un-happen. Oh, and he sees a lot to these patients, a lot! In Toowoomba! They have considerable suffering and anguish. Sounds like they’re all rushing to his surgery because it’s got bigot painted on the outside. But that’s ok, he can resolve the tension, no doubt by telling you that god loves you. attaching electrodes to your testicles and zapping you with 1,000 volts while showing you pictures of an erect penis. Oh, and that’s ok, because when you go back to the real world, you’ll be treated like everyone else because you have all the liberties and the equality you’ll ever need, just like real couples. On one hand we are suffering and in anguish, on the other hand we are treated equally.
Lyle Shelton: That’s right 85 laws were changed in 2008 and state governments have allowed relationship registers. There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples.
You know Lyle, when you tell someone that they can’t do something because of who they are, that’s called discrimination. You can get married to the partner of your choice (at least, I’m assuming it was a choice), but I can’t.
Doctor David Van Gend: Perfect. That’s it, they have full relationship equality and that is what a liberal society should achieve.
Perfect? I don’t have full relationship equality. I can’t get married.
That’s where we’re at but you’ve got to also let children have the one institution in society that exists for them. Marriage exists for children, they’ve build around mother and child.
Rubbish. Marriage is between two adults, has nothing to do with children. This is really easy to test, plenty of kids are born without their parents being married, plenty of them live with one parent, plenty with same-sex parents, plenty of them without parents. Marriage exists because we want it, not because we have kids.
The very word matrimony is broken into two words, mother and the state of. It’s the state of motherhood is matrimony and marriage exist to serve the interest of mother and child. It serves to bind men, feral by nature men to their mate so that both of them can be bound to their child. That’s the whole purpose of it and gay people get this.
Excuse me, I’m not feral. I don’t need to be bound to a woman to be tamed. I’m not sure how it works in your part of the world. And the binding doesn’t work, men and women still have sex outside their marriage, they still have children outside their marriage, and they still break up.
You’re going to listen to Christopher Pearson used to write about marriage needing to be a to man, woman thing, or Dolce & Gabbana, the great fashion gays what they said about it or Doug Mannering, all these other serious principal gay guys who say we got what we want. We got the liberty and benefits that we want. Don’t take marriage away from children, it’s their only structural institutional possession and that’s where we’re at Lyle. We can all get to this point of saying, yes, yes our fellow citizen who are same-sex attracted must have all the liberty and equality of any of us, and they do. Now that is enough do not let them usurp the one child sense of institution that there is and remake it in their own adult centered image. That is an injustice against child and that’s where we draw the line.
Ho hum. A few gay people don’t want to get married, or have the jesus bug, therefore all gay people should listen to them. In their minds this also works for chrisitans. David and Lyle are good mates and christian, therefore the whole world should agree with them because they have jesus and they are right. Between them they have worked out where to draw the line and you’re not allowed to cross their line because… well because jesus!
Doctor David Van Gend: It breaks all marriages because I was sitting in America couple of months after their definition of marriage was changed. I looked around this restaurant. None of those married men and women, none of them have the same marriage they used to have because marriage has now become purely an adult romantic affair. A relationship between any two adults of any sex was no further meaning than that.
This sort of makes my brain hurt. It’s a huge assumption to say that everyone in the restaurant is married, and if they are, that they are sitting at the table with their spouse. So because the US now has marriage equality, people already married don’t have the same marriage as before because same-sex marriages exist? SMH (that’s shaking my head) And…. their marriages have now become purely adult romantic affairs! So before it was what? A child’s romantic affair? No romance at all? Marriage is not romantic? Well at least us gay guys have put the romance back into marriage, you’ve gotta be happy with that.
What they signed up to is marriage being the vocation of a man and woman given by nature itself to undertake the great task of creating a home, a new family and new generation. That great vocation, that great honorable life task has been degraded into a mere romantic association between any two people.
This is it! The world is ending! Straight people lives have been wrecked by two lesbians calling each other wife and setting up a home and a family and a new generation! You should see my face right now, I’m simply horrified! I had no idea that getting married to Michael in New Zealand would change the world so much. Why didn’t someone stop me? (I’ll leave the answer hanging…)
So that’s gone but more importantly Lyle, the relationship between all parents and all children is redefined when you change marriage as the great lawyer Margaret Somerville pointed out when Canada brought in gay marriage. They changed all of the legal reference to natural parents and made it legal parents. Now, a natural parent is a fundamental, natural relationship which government has to respect, has to stand back and let natural parenthood prevail but once you abolish natural parents because you got rid of natural marriage. All parents and all children are related by a government definition which the government can damn well change whenever it likes. It’s a legal fiction and no parents and children any longer have a natural relationship. They have a legal fiction for a relationship. Be like profound, you’re playing into the hands of big government. People have no idea …
Adoption. That’s where the old parents have their rights removed and have them assigned to another parent(s) You know, the government damn well changed the legal fiction. The relationship is established by law. Has nothing to do with nature really. If want you are saying, Davo, is that every child has a mother and a father, then you are right. What happens after that, nature doesn’t give a rats arse about.
Doctor David Van Gend: …It was an article in Courier Mail and they had for and against forum. I was asked to write the case against gay marriage and someone else wrote the other one. … this is what I’d said, I’d said, yes, yes, it is discrimination to prohibit the marriage of two men but it is a far worse case of discrimination to allow this and thereby abolish a mother from the life of any child created within that marriage or words that effect….Of course we discriminate against two men by saying they can’t marry because they can’t.
Remember, they told us that there is no discrimination. Remember that they have no animus towards gay people. Remember, Michael and I are married, even though he says we can’t. We have a marriage certificate with both our names on it.
It’s not possible because marriage is by definition a natural institution of male and female
It is possible, nature doesn’t define marriage, humans do.
but more importantly they can’t because that would impose a far worse injustice on children who will be created by surrogacy or adoption or whatever under this new institution not by tragic circumstance law but this kids won’t miss out on their mum because their mum’s died or there’s a divorce. These kids in the future will miss out on their mother because an act of parliament today decreed that they will miss out.
I have two children, neither of them have missed out on their mother or father. Michael and I will not have children, therefore we can get married. Or wait, nobody else can have children because Michael and I are married, but if a straight couple do have children one of them must leave so the other can marry a person of the same-sex. And this is ok, because it’s not tragic. At least that’s what I think he is saying.
Doctor David Van Gend: Actually Lyle, from a wide reading into the activist literature on gay marriage and gay issue.
He reads widely apparently, he reads activist literature on gay marriage. Excellent, it’s good to have a well-rounded view.
That’s actually the main objective. Gay thinkers, gay activist don’t really care about gay marriage, they actually despise it.
This is right, however, reading as widely as you do Davey, you surely understand that this is but one of many, many views.
They always have despised marriage. It’s a bourgeois, hetero normative, slightly religious patriarchal repressive thing that cramps your gay style.
I have never despised marriage, I’m gay, I’m an activist. However, I understand that Julia Gillard, who is a woman, not gay and probably not an activist had some thoughts about marriage and it being repressive. Perhaps I’m not reading widely enough.
They despise it, they always have but in the mid ‘90s, they realize that there’s this new thing in town called antidiscrimination law
Well no, I think you need to wind it back about 20 years when gay people starting saying stop beating us up, stop putting us in jail. Stop telling us who to have sex with.
and if you normalise homosexual marriage in law, you have normalise homosexual behaviour in all its manifestations with the force of the law and that gives you two things.
Homosexuality has been normalised as you say. It’s actually not considered abnormal for people to be not straight. Remember that he has no animus towards gay people.
It gives you control of the curriculum so that all children with gay marriage bought in. All children must be taught the homosexual behavior is no different to the relationship of their mum and dad. That it is normal and natural and right and if parents disagree to bad it’s the law of the land.
Children must be taught? The sub-text of this is that he still considers homosexuality unnatural, and something to be ashamed of. Just below the surface here is that vague notion that gay people are recruiting children to be gay.
You’ve missed your chance, it’s gone and the second thing is they the big stick of antidiscrimination law to beat the churches and other conscientiousness objectors into submission and that is what they are trying to do now but we can resist it now. We will not be able to resist it when gay marriage is the law of the land and they know that and this is why they want it.
And here in lies the real reason, at the end of the interview. He really doesn’t want gay people telling him what to believe. He really wants to maintain his right to discriminate against whomever he wants. He sincerely believes that once gay people are allowed to get married that they will set about dismantling society and force him to get gay married, or something. While he admits that marriage equality is inevitable, he is attempting to frighten people into thinking that their world will change so much that civilisation itself will come crushing down, and the people who are not currently being discriminated against and those that he bares no animus towards will be fully responsible.
Despite what these two white men with their wealth and privilege say, this is about power and control. This is about their rank as men, head of the household, rulers of the world. It’s bad enough that women want to do things other than be mothers and dedicated wives, now they have to contend with same-sex couples wanting to get married. And when they go back to the basis of this power and privilege – the bible – it says that homosexuality is an abomination, that those that participate in it are worthy of death, women should not be heard, that there is no divorce and children should be seen only. This is the world they want, where they are the centre of the power, so the small town doctor and the pretend high priest are treated as demi-gods.
Doug Pollard at The Stirrer has some good back ground on Marriage Alliance who say that they’re an independent alliance, despite the fact that the key stakeholders are all catholic.
The Alliance has just four questions it would seem:
Should children have the right to know their biological history?
Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?
Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?
Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?
Let me get those for you:
Should children have the right to know their biological history?
Yes. Of course. Who is saying that they shouldn’t?
Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?
Do you mean to ask if we know what happens to kids raised by gay parents? Yes we do. They turn out well-adjusted just like other kids.
Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?
Nobody is redefining your family. As a social unit it will still be there a guess what, families will be just as diverse as they are now.
Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?
Well yes, I think so. Do you have any real questions?
Until these questions and more are debated and answered, we are not ready to have same sex marriage in Australia.
Actually, these questions have been asked, and more, and answered. We’re ready for marriage equality. So close your website and go back to your normal business, whatever that is for catholics these days. (Perhaps start a support group for abused children?)
Just putting this out there for you to think about.
The Australian Christian Lobby and other religious people are always telling us that allowing same-sex couples to get married will mean that they will want to have children. They tell us that this is unnatural as it deprives the child of either a mother or father. The argument is that it doesn’t matter about children who find themselves without one of their biological parents from desertion, accident or some other misadventure, from their recent media release:
“Every time a child loses their mother or their father, whether by family breakdown, death, desertion, it is a profound tragedy.”
But why doesn’t it matter? Why don’t they agitate to fix what they must surely see as a huge social issue.
In June 2012 there were 641,000 single parent families with dependents in Australia1. Of those families 84% where single mothers.
In the 2011 Census there where around 33,700 same-sex couples. Of those couples, 6,300 children live with them2
I would think that since the ACL is so worried about thinking about the children that they would be much more concerned with the amount of single parent families. After all, it’s clear that they see a child’s right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Where is their campaign to either restore both parents or prevent them from having children in the first place?
This seems like a much bigger issue from their moral ‘christian values‘ and one that they seem happy to overlook.
Instead we find their focus on the children of gay couples, children that have two parents and live in really happy circumstances, children that are wanted, loved, nurtured and doing really well.
The only reason I can think of is that the ACL is determined to victimise gay people as evil.
Society’s focus should be on the children, and we should look after all of the kids, regardless of their family situations. Families need our support, if they are struggling then lets help them.
Just so we’re clear, plenty of single parents raise really good kids.
It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the ACL trying to force their opinion on the rest of the world. Oh, wait it was. I just can’t help myself when they release another ill-thought out media release.
For release: 24 May 2015
The Australian people should have a say on same-sex marriage through a national plebiscite, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
Why? There was no plebiscite when the government amended the marriage act to exclude same-sex couples from getting married. We don’t have plebiscites on any other issues.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said he respected Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s view that marriage was probably not an issue for a constitutional referendum.
“Probably not” – I don’t think it’s probable at all. There is no constitutional change, unless you’re trying to insert something into it?
“However, changing the definition of marriage in law is a monumental and very divisive issue with big consequences.
How? Allowing same-sex couples to marry won’t fundamentally change anything, it will just allow adults to marry whomever they wish. How is that divisive? And what are the big consequences? Has New Zealand disappeared up its own long white cloud? Has Canada stopped exporting maple syrup? Has the UK stopped ruling the waves? Has Ireland disappeared overnight? No. Let’s just say some whacky things and hope nobody notices what a monumental cock-up this media release is.
“The people should have a say through a plebiscite before it goes back to the Parliament,” Mr Shelton said.
It’s still not clear why you would advocate for such a thing Lyle.
“Those seeking to change the definition of marriage always seem confident of public support. Let them put it to the test by asking for the peoples’ endorsement.
And then what? If we get 70% as the polls indicate what happens then? If we get 40% what happens then? Since when should the rights of people be dictated by others?
“A plebiscite would allow parliamentarians to then cast their votes in Parliament guided by the will of the Australian community.”
Strange as this may sound, our parliamentarians seem quite able to cast their votes now without a plebiscite, that’s how it works. We elected one of our community to represent our views in the parliament so that we don’t have to keep telling them what to do every time a vote comes up. I suspect, more to the point, a plebiscite would allow the christian right to put their case. Can you imagine the rhetoric? It’d be about crazy things like “natural marriage” “think of the children” and something about gay people not being able to breed.
In designing the conduct of a plebiscite, Mr Shelton said two conditions should be laid out.
Modest but equal public funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ case.
A prohibition on international donations.
Oh, so now he wants conditions least the big gay lobby should find big gay supporters to support their big gay weddings.
Plebiscites are non-binding but can help settle matters of great national importance, Mr Shelton said.
Hmmm… plebiscites help settle matters of great national importance do they? Wow. The power of the people! Since Federation we’ve had 3. The first two about 100 years ago were about military conscription and the last one in 1977 was about which song we should sing at football grand finals (and other times). Yes, I can see why Lyle thinks that they are useful for settling matters of great national importance.
It’s actually time that we got this off the table and simply amended the marriage act to remove the discriminatory language placed in there in 2004. To continue to treat part of our society as second class citizens is wrong and divisive. Trying to suggest it needs everyone to have a say is just playing for time.
My eyes have been focussed on Ireland as they voted in a referendum to change their constitution to broaden the definition of marriage in that country.
“marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”
Just so we’re clear, it’s not gay marriage nor is it the right to marry a dog, several hundred other people or a bridge. It’s the right to contract in accordance with the law the right to marry another person. You could be gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered or just plain and simply you. All you need is another single person and you can get married.
The people said yes.
There has been much celebrating in Ireland and around the world. It’s historic as it’s the first country to vote on marriage equality. Of course, there are those that are upset about the result, such as Lyle Shelton – head straight man at the Australian Christian Lobby – scared of anything that isn’t just like him. He very quickly published a media release to tell everyone else just what we should be thinking! He sums up his whole approach right there in the headline:
Irish marriage referendum a blow to the rights of children
He seems to ignore the 18 countries where it’s ok to get married and guess what, the kids are ok! He’s not focussed on the Royal Commission on Institutional sex abuse where the rights of kids have been ignored and destroyed. Nor has he focussed on the rape and abuse of asylum seekers. No, no, he in his writings suggest that gay people are somehow causing harm to the rights of children.
The redefinition of marriage and family in Ireland this weekend is a wake-up call to Australians who value the rights of children and freedom of belief.
Yes, it’s a wake up call – the decision has been made by the people. Not by a few lobbyists who head an outdated religious lobby group. Of course, family has not been redefined in Ireland. Just who is allowed to get married, and even then, it’s not so much as a redefinition, but simply a small adjustment. Opposite-sex couples are still able to marry. As to the rights of children, last time I check my two were still ok, as are my nephews and nieces. No impact at all. Also, it’s Sunday today, no churches have been harmed so freedom of belief endures.
The Australian Christian Lobby is disappointed that the Irish movement to redefine marriage, funded by $16 million US dollars, has succeeded at a national referendum today.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said, “Over $16 million US dollars has been provided to organisations to deliver same-sex marriage over a period of 12 years in Ireland.”
Mr Shelton said despite the result in Ireland, Australia was different and he called on parliamentarians to carefully consider the consequences for children and to freedom of conscience.
“Australia should not pass a law which forces millions of Australians to pretend that a same-sex couple with children is the same thing as a mother and father with children.
Lyle is right – we are different. Our marriage act can be changed by parliament. No referendum is needed. In fact, it was former Prime Minister Howard, ably assisted by the current PM Abbott that changed the marriage act to make it clear that in Australia marriage is between one man and one woman for life. It’s ok, you can ignore the ‘for life’ bit if you like and get a divorce, but you can’t ignore the man and woman bit.
As to this rather silly notion that the law will force millions – millions I say – to ‘pretend’ that there’s something wrong with the kids of gay couples. I mean really Lyle. What are you going on about? You do know that already there are plenty of couples who aren’t married raising children? Some of those couples are married overseas but their relationship is not recognised here. And some of them are same-sex parents. And guess what – their kids are ok! Perhaps you should go and meet with some of them to find out how well they’re doing.
“The redefining marriage movement in Ireland made a big effort to downplay the rights and interests of children, which ought to be at centre stage of all public policy.
The No vote played this game very well and made it front and centre of their campaign. And guess what? The rest of Ireland saw through it and told them how silly they are.
“Because marriage confers the right to form a family, it will be very difficult to resist further law changes allowing the exploitation of women through commercial surrogacy.
No, marriage does not confer that right. We have a right to form a family and plenty of people do that without marriage. Even those who get married may choose not to have children. Surrogacy is an issue that is quite separate from marriage equality. In fact, the attempt to wave a red flag about the exploitation of women while talking about marriage equality is a nice attempt at distraction. The two aren’t connected.
“The only way the benefits of marriage equality can be provided to two men is to reform surrogacy laws so they have open access to donated women’s eggs and through the provision of ‘carrier’ wombs.
Uh huh. Benefits of marriage equality? What has this to do with two people getting married? It would seem Lyle that you are suggesting that the reason people get married is to have children. I don’t understand what makes you think this is a benefit of marriage as it can and does happen outside marriage. Surrogacy again is a separate issue not connected with marriage equality.
“While some same-sex couples are already acquiring children through various means of assisted reproductive technology, this does not make severing the primal bond between a child and their mother or father right.
Acquiring? Are you talking about a couple of women – you know, lesbians? Nobody acquires children. We have them. You also turn a blind eye to those thousands of children already adopted by same-sex and opposite-sex parents. This is the reality now and has been for a very long time. Quite frankly Lyle, this is a furphy.
“Marriage equality abolishes in law and culture the idea that, wherever possible, children have a right to both their mother and father.
Perhaps you can point to which law and which culture that says a child has this right. When you’ve found it then please embark upon a campaign to remove children from single parents, divorced parents and same-sex couples. Of course, marriage equality does not abolish anything of the sort.
“If gender matters for company boards and jury selection, then how can we deny that it matters for parenting?”
Mr Shelton said the freedom of Christian and Islamic schools teaching the truth about gender complementarity in marriage would likely come into question if marriage was redefined.
You forget about the Jewish faith. And so it should come into question. You seem to be of the misunderstanding that christian and islamic schools have some sort of truth that places them outside reality. They don’t. What you’re saying is that homosexuality is morally wrong according to your ‘truth’. Time to get out and face the reality that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being straight. How long must the rest of us sit back and allow you to use your religion to deny reality? The world isn’t flat anymore Lyle.
People providing services to the wedding industry, who because of conscience declined to participate in a same-sex wedding, would risk being punished under Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.
OK. So we don’t yet have marriage equality in Australia – so this isn’t really an issue. However, I would hope that if you are a baker, for example, and your website says that you make wedding cakes, then that’s what you do. If a couple arrives and you refuse to make a cake because of your conscience, then I’d suggest you are probably in the wrong business and if you are breaking the law then you should be prepared for the consequences. Are you really saying that religious people are outside the law? We get to work with lots of people every day and we don’t get to discriminate based on our conscience. It’s how we get along in life Lyle. And my suggestion to you is that you take a good hard look at your opposition to gay people getting married. The thing that is driving your protests is your christian belief. Let me quote it for you straight from your bible:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
So, if you want to talk about the right to exercise your religious conscience – is this what you mean?
“Whether or not the Greens like it, the taking of human life in the womb is an issue that should be debated politically and not silenced.
“Our society’s inability to support women with unsupported pregnancies to the point where abortion is so widespread is a matter of serious public policy and people are right to express a view publicly by way of protest or prayer.”
Let me call bullshit on this. Taking the life of a foetus in the uterus has been settled and is not a political debate on anyone’s radar other than some out of touch christians. Women are supported in pregnancy. There are plenty of organisations helping. Sometimes women have abortions, for whatever reason. There is nothing wrong with that.
Shelton is protesting that a Greens Senator has taken a stance against christians standing on the footpath praying. He doesn’t see why that is a problem. I do. You can pray anywhere. What makes him think that praying near an abortion clinic is going to make any difference to the way his god responds. They could all sit at home and pray, but no, instead they gather quietly and peacefully, just like a bunch of hyenas, waiting for the right moment to pounce on their unsuspecting victim. If you challenge them they smile and say that they are going about the lord’s work. What they are really doing is providing a barrier between the front door and the women who are within their rights to seek the service of the clinic inside. This deliberate act is designed to shame women into not having an abortion. It is a device to intimidate women and deprive them of their choice. It is not peaceful or pleasant, no matter how much the nice christians in their beige cardigans and corduroy trousers look. This is an aggressive gesture that has no place in our society.
Women have the right to an abortion. This isn’t something that needs further discussion. The matter is settled.
The Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the recognition of foreign (same-sex) marriages.
They have invited public submissions and are currently holding hearings in various places.
Today, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby was able to use his position to address the committee. Lyle Shelton, a religious man exercised his democratic right to bring his faith into the political discussion for consideration.
Let’s have a look at what he had to say.
The recognition of foreign same-sex marriages bill is an attempt to further pressure Parliamentarians into capitulating to the same-sex political agenda to change the definition of marriage.
There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples. But for some reason, it is important to some political campaigners to see marriage changed from what it is to something else.
There is discrimination. I’m married to Michael, that marriage is not recognised in Australia. I’m not a political campaigner, although you might consider me an activist. I’m a (NZ) married man wanting my relationship valued and respected in the country of my birth. Just like every other couple.
ACL facilitated 42,000 signatures on a submission to this inquiry. There is plenty of grassroots opposition to changing the definition of marriage.
42,000 signatures out of nearly 15 million voters, that’s about .28% of the population. That’s 0.28%, yep, they’re rallying behind your cause.
Such is the politically correct orthodoxy surrounding this issue, few are willing to stand publicly against the political agenda it represents.
National Marriage Coalition (Submission 12) -Ms Jenny Stokes -Mr Bill Muehlenberg Australian Family Association(Submission 2) -Ms Terri Kelleher Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage (Submission 18) -Mr Christopher Brohier SC, Founder -Mr Neville Rochow SC
Tony Briffa (Submission 40)
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights via teleconference(Submission 21)
-Mr Nathan Kennedy, President
Law Institute of Victoria (Submission 39) Australian Christian Lobby (Submission 9) -Mr Lyle Shelton, Managing Director Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney (Submission 7) -Mr Christopher Meney, Director -Miss Mary Joseph, Research and Project Officer Presbyterian Church of Australia (Submission 23) Australian Baptist Ministries (Submission 8) -Reverend Rod Benson, Tinsley Institute -Reverend Keith Jobberns, National Ministries Director
And that’s just one day of public hearings.
No one wants to be accused of prejudice but this is what Australian Marriage Equality asserts is the basis for opposing their political objective is (see page 8 of the AME’s Supplementary Submission).
The best way not to be accused of prejudice is to not do it. Did you do it?
This is of course deeply offensive to Muslims, Christians and Jews and countless other Australians of nominal or no religion who will always believe the truth about marriage and will want to teach it to their children.
Based on what? You seem to be under the misapprehension that you have the only ‘truth’ about marriage. Plenty of the religious demographics you mention have no issue with gay people getting married. You can believe whatever you want, but stop trying to impose that on everyone else. Nobody is asking anyone to marry against their religion, but plenty of us are asking to marry the one we love, just like you got to do.
We do not have fear or hate in our hearts, we simply have a view about marriage that we wish to see upheld in public policy. We will want to uphold this through the institutions of civil society such as schools, charities and churches that we create and participate in.
On one hand he tells us that he does not have fear or hate in his heart, the other hand says that it will mean that he’ll be fined and locked up. Which is it Lyle?
Nobody is saying that you can’t uphold your religious version of marriage. What we are asking is that in a civil society all should be treated equally under that law.
The recent Crosby Textor poll mislead people by framing the questions as if no one but the same-sex couple would be affected and that there would be no impact on religious freedom.
Impact? Here I am, part of a persecuted minority thanks to thousands of years of religious generated hate, and yet you’re cross that someone might tell you to cut it out? What gives you the right to discriminate against someone just because they don’t hold your narrow view of human sexuality? The impact at present allows your religious freedom to hold the view that I am detestable. Despite all the research around human sexuality, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the general acceptance in our society, you still want to use the bible to claim victim status and deny me the right to be treated fairly?
Australians don’t want to see their fellow citizens being fined or perhaps even jailed for acting on their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
No, they won’t be fined for holding a belief, they would possibly be fined for breaking the law. This is such a silly argument, I can’t believe people still use it.
A child such as baby Rhyley lying in a Thai hospital ward, featured on page three of yesterday’s Age, is also affected by same-sex marriage ideology.
He is denied both his surrogate mother and his biological mother because the rights of two men to acquire a baby are allowed to trump the International Covenant on the Rights of the Child which says that all children have the right to be raised, wherever possible, by their biological parents.
You should underline wherever possible. There are clearly exceptions to the rule now. You just made one yourself. You talk about the rights of a child to be raised by the biological mother all the time, and now you’ve just highlighted a right attributed to the surrogate mother. I’m not sure I follow your reasoning there.
Sure James and Steve are capable of showing Rhyley love, and I’m sure they will. But neither can be his mum.
And? Neither of them can be his Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent or family pet. What they can be is co-parents. You do know that plenty of kids the world over grow up outside this fantasy of mum, dad and two kids routine? And guess what, they turn out ok too!
Marriage is not just about the emotional needs of adults. The definition of marriage references a biological reality which helps protect the rights of children. That is why governments regulate marriage.
No it’s not. Marriage is a civil contract between two adults. You put all that extra stuff into it to trump up your flimsy arguments. Just in the subtext too Lyle, you’re saying that the biological reality of opposite sex parents helps to protect the rights of children, and yet you ignore that in those relationships children are abused, killed and used as weapons in relationship breakdown. You are also quietly suggesting that somehow children raised in same-sex relationships aren’t safe, that some how the rights of the child isn’t protected. That’s nasty.
Governments have no interest in other forms of romantic relationships. They are simply none of our business.
Rhyley is denied his human right to a mother not because of tragedy or desertion but because of a deliberate social engineering decision taken by two men.
You do know that men and women do the same thing, don’t you? They resort to surrogacy and adoption, is that deliberate social engineering or does that sweet little title just apply to same-sex couples?
We have to ask ourselves whether this is ethical. We have to ask ourselves do we want a new definition of marriage to set these practices in cultural cement. The law is of course a teacher.
Yes, we do have to ask these ethical questions. And look, here you are asking them. Fancy that.
Our submission references polling which shows 73 per cent of Australians believe wherever possible a child should be raised by her or his biological mother and father.
Yep, that’s good. Let’s underline wherever possible. I also wonder if we can see the way the question was framed? Or do we only ask those questions when we don’t agree with the result?
We can’t have it both ways and we desperately need an honest and mature debate about the consequences of changing the definition of marriage.
Here you are, a grown up, having a mature debate, addressing a Senate Inquiry. I bet you wore a tie too! Here is your chance to put your argument forward. Yes, I know you’re tired of doing it at all these inquiries, but to suggest that a mature debate isn’t happening is bullshit. I suspect what you really mean is that the ‘other side’ looks like they might win this.
If we think removing children from their biological parents is fine, then go for same-sex marriage.
It is fine, it happens all the time. But you’re trying to be emotional, the very thing you say marriage isn’t about. You use the word remove quite deliberately because is supports your cause. It harkens back to the silliness of suggesting that we would be creating another stolen generation. An argument that you unsuccessfully made and got nothing but flack for it.
But “marriage equality” is a slogan whose meaning should be unpacked.
If equality is the principle, how can we deny other definitions of marriage already recognised legally by other foreign jurisdictions?
What makes the gay lobby’s definition morally superior to those defined legally in other jurisdictions and cultures?
You miss the point, we can define marriage as we please, it’s an Act of Parliament. Equality is the key word here. We would, I think I can say fairly safely, only ever allow marriage between consenting adults. A relationship without consent would not be condoned. So no child marriages. You also seem to forget that there are many laws overseas that we wouldn’t simply enact for equality with other jurisdictions. For example, in some places you can be executed for leaving your religion, or being gay. We allow people in Australia to change religions and to be gay, we haven’t adopted the laws of other countries, even though some of our citizens think that it might be a good idea. I think we are big enough and brave enough to have a good understanding of right and wrong. Is this part of the mature debate?
One of the many overseas examples of the legal harassment of dissenters to same-sex marriage is the story of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman who is being sued by the State Attorney General. I table her story in a seven minute electronic format and seek the chair’s permission to provide a copy to each committee member.
Honestly Lyle, you are missing the point again. You can dissent as much as you like, and here you are dissenting. Harassment of dissenters is not the case, they broke the law. When you get a fine for running a red light do you feel that you’re being harassed for breaking the law? When marriage equality becomes law then some people won’t be able to hide behind their religion to deny services to people. Just as you can’t discriminate against women just because your religion says you can. Oh that’s right, you can if you are a religion within the confines of your church. So the catholics can sack an unmarried pregnant women who teaches in one of their primary schools. Yet, a catholic principal working in a state school couldn’t do that. Why is that, I wonder?
I challenge anyone who thinks there are no consequences to changing the definition of marriage to look a child in the eye and tell her she is not allowed to be raised by her biological mother or father.
Seriously. This the best you got? You want a mature debate and stoop to overly emotive unnecessary hyperbole. Nobody would ever say that to a child – how stupid. Let’s humour the concept though. If you did want to say it, at what age would it be appropriate, birth? 2 years old? Too young to understand. Maybe 10? Is that too late as they’ve already been raised? He also ignores all those kids that have been raised and are being raised by same-sex parents. Will he look those children in the eye and tell them, sorry, you’re going to have to go and live with your biological parents?
It’s no secret that I’m in a wonderful relationship. I tell everyone at every opportunity. I struggled for ways to show Michael how important he was to me. I couldn’t find that one thing needed to express my love for him, then I asked him to marry me. He said yes.
Marriage is an important milestone for us. We can’t do it in Australia. Fundamentally we aren’t really changing anything about our relationship, we are simply publicly expressing the importance of our lives together.
So when I yet again read something from the Australian Christian Lobby that attempts to undermine my relationship with Michael I get a bit upset. Not just for me but for others who so desperately want to get married.
Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the ACL and he writes:
But the Greens, who cite changing the definition of marriage as one of their top priorities (along with euthanasia), are chipping away.
Recently they set up a Senate inquiry into a bill to recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.
This is clearly a tactic to put pressure on parliamentarians as part of the Greens’ misguided assault on the rights of children to have their mum and dad, wherever possible.
Whether or not you think the Greens are misguided is a political judgement, they are doing what they should be doing in a democratically elected parliament, attempting to represent those that voted for them. However, to suggest that somehow marriage equality is an assault on the rights of children is just insane. This notion that somehow allowing Michael and me to get married will mean that kids won’t have a mother and father is madness.
The truth is there is no discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman does not change this.
Well, lets test that, I assume Lyle is straight and married to a woman. I assume that they love each other and the reason that they got married is because they love each other. Lyle has married the person of his choice. I love Michael. I want to marry him. Michael is my choice for the person I want to marry. Yet, I’m not permitted under Australian law to do so. Why not? It’s because we are both men. That, to me, sounds like discrimination. Feels like it too.
But if Australia capitulates on the definition of marriage, our cultural assumption that a child has the right – wherever possible – to her or his biological mother and father, will be lost.
What is it with these guys that they continually place children as the central reason for marriage ignoring all those who decide to either have children out-of-wedlock or not have children at all. There is no requirement to have children as part of a marriage and there is no requirement to be married to have children. And just once it’d be great to see Lyle show us just where this right that apparently is a cultural assumption is written down.
A civil and unselfish society puts the rights of children first, no matter how emotive the arguments against this are.
I don’t know which society you live in Lyle, but our society is very selfish. Sure, there are lots of great things happening and lots of selfless people about, but really, there are poor, hungry, homeless children living amongst us. You could be working with those families that need support instead of picking on the gays. The unsaid thing here, however, is this notion that somehow gay people have children as some sort of trophy or possession. That we only want children so we can somehow show them off. Nothing is further from the truth. Every parent I’ve met, regardless of their sexuality, is a selfless parent who would do anything for their children. Just because you’re gay doesn’t stop that fundamental biological urge to have children and raise them as your own. It’s part of being human, and mostly our sexuality doesn’t diminish that drive any more than the rest of the population. That same basic instinct is the same that drives straight couples to start families.
It’s easy to over look the role that Lyle Shelton as the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby plays in this debate. We need to be taking that into account in all their lobbying. Although Lyle makes no mention of it, religion is the driving factor here. He pretends that it’s about the children, because for the ACL that’s the emotive argument. The way they continue to justify their discrimination is to pretend that it’s not biblically based. The reality is that the ACL is about forcing their version of Christian ethics on the rest of the population. Their ethics are orthodox Christian values. They believe that gay people are sinners, the work of demons and just plain evil. The Chairman of the ACL, Tony McLellan said this in a report on Lateline in 2012:
TONY MCLELLAN: It’s against the kingdom of God by the Devil. The Devil doesn’t like God and doesn’t like everything God stands for. I would say that people who are trying to change the definition of marriage, which has its roots in Christianity, are obviously trying to deconstruct Christian’s views of what marriage should be. And they well may be motivated by the evil one to do that.
No doubt there are plenty of reasons to deconstruct Christian views in our society. The churches have used and abused their position when it comes to the well-being of children. Reality is that religion isn’t going away any time soon. But then neither am I. Nor are the hundreds of thousands of gay Australians and our supporters.
The ACL have tried to shift this ‘war’ to the well-being of the children. For generations children have been raised in a variety of ways, through mothers only, through villages, through dads only, with the use of wet-nurses, adopted parents, orphanages and with both parents. There should be no doubt in your mind that no matter what happens to marriage, people will continue to breed and raise the off-spring. The way forward is not to tell us who can and can’t do it, but to support those who want to be parents. As a society that is surely the way to do it.
The ACL in shifting the debate is being dishonest and disingenuous. At the root of all their rhetoric only one thing matters to them, bringing about the kingdom of their god. They honestly believe that it is their duty to push their ethics onto the rest of society because they think they’re right. If we don’t agree with them we are deemed to be a demon, be influenced by a demon or just plain evil.
We don’t hear that sort of talk from them, it’s not going to win them any support. The last thing that the ACL really cares about is your children, or the rights of the children. They only care about their faith. Nothing else matters.
How selfish of them.
You can voice your support for marriage equality by making a submission to the Senate Inquiry for the Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill 2014 at the website for Australian Marriage Equality.
Join the Australian Equality Party, a new voice in Australian politics that aims to promote fairness, equality and human rights.