Today on catholicTalk, we continue our series on the consequences of changing the definition of marriage for ordinary Australians.
Possibly the biggest myth surrounding the marriage debate is that the change will not affect anyone outside the LGBTI community. In this series, we are seeking to demonstrate that it the “it won’t affect you” idea is untrue, and even dangerous.
The Marriage Act 1961 is the only piece of Australian law which confirms that there is a relevant difference between male and female. If we change the Marriage Act in the way proposed by same-sex marriage advocates, we will be saying at law that there is no difference between the genders. This might be hailed as “equality,” but it is not. You can say that men and women are equal in dignity and rights and anything else without needing to go a step further and declare them to be the same.
Current signs of the removal of gender from Australian law
We are already seeing the “equality” movement beginning to ungender our laws in Australia. In the ACT, a birth certificate does not necessarily need to refer to the “mother” or “father” of a child. A birth certificate might note two mothers, two fathers, two non-gender specific “parents,” or any combination of these.
The interesting (and disturbing) thing about this is that birth certificates will no longer be the primary identity document for a child, but rather a document which describes the emotional and social situation of the adults surrounding the child at the relevant point in time.
This relevant time need not even be at the time of the child’s birth.
A recent case in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal sought to have a birth certificate retrospectively changed to refer to two “mothers.” The case was unsuccessful, but I can imagine similar challenges will continue. And the will likely be successful in Victoria, because the Andrews Government is already looking for ways to make gender irrelevant in that State.
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016, which looks set to pass, will allow a person to change the gender on their identity documents every 12 months. An applicant would not be limited to choosing “male” or “female,” but rather would be able to choose any description of their gender, provided that it was non-offensive. The 71 genders offered by Facebook would pale in comparison to the possibilities soon to be available in Victoria.
The example of Canada
Countries where same-sex marriage has been legal for a decade or more are educative in where this is heading.
Same-sex married became legal via an Ontario court decision in 2003. If passed, a new Bill before Canadian Parliament, appropriately named the All Families Are Equal Act 2016, will remove the ability for a registration of birth to refer to “mother” or “father,” but require that the non-gender specific term “parent” be used. The legislation will also remove the limit of two parents to be listed on a birth certificate, allowing up to four “parents” to be named.
A child looking at their birth certificate will no longer be able to tell who is, and who is not, their biological relation. And they will be told that it doesn’t matter. Any longing for knowledge or the presence of a mother or a father will be quickly stifled because, after all, “all families are equal.”
These are the types of changes which are also coming to Australia if same-sex marriage is legalised. The consequences impact everyone.
Monica Doumit, Catholic Talk contributor