Same-sex 'marriage' is an attack on parents' rights and religious freedom

Same-sex 'marriage' is an attack on parents' rights and religious freedom

Patrick Byrne

Legalising same-sex marriage is pivotal to the militant secular attack on religious freedom, parents' right to determine their children's education and state-aid for church-based agencies.

The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex (GLBTI) and radical, secular human rights lobbies say that same-sex marriage is needed to remove the last vestige of discrimination from federal law.

But discrimination based on age, race, gender or sexual preference has already been removed from federal and state laws.

In reality, today's push for same-sex marriage is not about discrimination. Rather, it is a polemic that hides a serious attack on basic freedoms. The real agenda is to bring the churches into fundamental conflict with the state, the GLBTI and radical human rights lobbies using a combination of same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination and human rights legislation.

Radical social agenda

Experiences in Victoria and in Europe, the UK, the US and Canada indicate that such laws become grounds to attack the churches and then for the courts to force these to accept a radical social agenda, or face prosecution and potentially the loss of state funding for church-based organisations.

To supposedly resolve this immediate conflict with the churches, politicians are saying that new laws will grant "exemptions".

For example, they say that the same-sex marriage bills and proposed anti-discrimination laws will exempt ministers of religion from performing same-sex marriages and religious denominations from having these performed in their places of worship.

Such "escape clauses" are to placate the churches and general public concerns in order to gain support for legislation. However, as opinion writer for The Australian (30 November 2011) Paul Kelly wrote, only a fool would accept the idea that "exemptions" for the churches will be effective and lasting.

The strategy for this radical secular attack on religion is seen clearly in two revolutionary changes being proposed by the federal government. These laws are designed to catch the churches in a pincer.

First, there are three bills for same-sex marriage before the federal parliament - one before the Senate and two before the House of Representatives, with possibly a fourth bill later in the year.

The organisation leading the push for same-sex marriage, called Australian Marriage Equality, is attempting to remove public concerns. It argues the churches won't be affected because each same-sex marriage bill allows "charities and schools [to] seek exemptions should the need arise."

Second, the federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, is holding an inquiry into consolidating the Commonwealth's four separate anti-discrimination laws. Her Department's position paper says that there will be exemptions for churches, schools and other oganisations. Yet, numerous GLBTI and radical human rights groups have told the Attorney General's inquiry that there must be no such exemptions.

Consider what just a few of these organisations are saying to the inquiry into a new anti-discrimination law.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) represents the AIDS councils in each state and territory, which are an umbrella for 1,039 AIDS, drug-injecting, Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander and sex-worker organisations.

The AIDS federation said in its submission to the Attorney General's inquiry that, as "Religious organisations are now contracted to administer government-funded services to the public ... there [should] be no religious exemptions in the new ... anti-discrimination law."

The Federation had one qualification: "If the religious exemptions are to remain in place, we propose that religious organisations be required to register their intent to discriminate with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and to publicly declare that intent in public messaging and advertising."

The National GLBTI Health Alliance has 68 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex national and state member organisations.

It told the Attorney General's inquiry that "Religious bodies should not be granted exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation for their activities in the provision of services, such as aged care, health services, and education," but if they are given exemptions, they must post their intention to discriminate on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

The Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby told the Attorney General's inquiry that it "would oppose any exemption that permitted religious bodies to discriminate against people in employment matters in the provision of public services using public funds in the course of education, including primary schools, secondary schools and universities; in the provision of welfare and healthcare services including hospitals, healthcare clinics and aged care facilities; in the provision of commercial services such as accommodation, in commerce and in other similar areas."

These views are supported by the Australian Education Union, representing 186,000 teachers. Its Policy on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People (2006) says: "Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and intersex need to be normalised" in the education system.

Same-sex marriage cuts to the heart of religious and civil freedoms.

Many of its advocates aim to use same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws to force their secular ideology on the churches and many other organisations, though the courts.

These radical secular groups want to confine religion to private belief. Their agenda is hostile to those laws that have guaranteed religious freedom and toleration of all beliefs and ideologies in Australia's pluralist society.

Today, strong opposition is needed to same-sex marriage and to the proposed new federal anti-discrimination laws.

Patrick J. Byrne is vice-president of the National Civic Council.

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