Complexities of gay marriage are too risky

Traditional marriage is a long established social norm in Australian society that is being challenged by the debate on same-sex marriage.

The theories of evolution, natural selection and Darwinism — in which only the fittest survive — are regarded as the counter to religious doctrine.

Religious beliefs are not the sole reason for opposing the notion of same-sex marriage. Let me articulate an argument from an anthropological perspective.

Since the dawn of human civilisation the concept of marriage has evolved in societies around the world into what is universally considered the social norm. That is marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of others, and centred on a family unit.

This anthropological social arrangement existed long before religion evolved and certainly before the concept of parliament or legislation in which it is defined. Pre-historic humans organised themselves into social units and this basic co-habitation relationship evolved as civilisation progressed.

Today, traditional marriage and the family unit are almost universal across the world. In societies across geography, race and culture from Europe to Asia, the American continent and Africa, marriage predominantly exists between a man and a woman.

Exceptions exist in certain tribal cultures where polygamy and communal living are practised. Traditional marriage is not perfect and there are many issues with family breakdown, divorce and dysfunction, however it is the best social institution we have.

Procreation is universally accepted as one of the main objects of marriage. Ideally, a man and a woman settle down in marriage to have children, which they nurture and care for in a family environment.

However, in a limited number of cases infertility exists. There is the option of adoption. Children placed in adoption should have the right to be placed with traditionally married couples, who reflect how that child was naturally conceived, and the child not have to deal with complex alternative lifestyles until they are mature enough.

In some cases, infertile couples turn to our medical system for access to reproductive and in-vitro fertilisation treatment. An alternative approach may involve the introduction of third parties through gamete donors or surrogacy. This can lead to even more complex relationships and legal situations.

Same-sex couples, on the other hand, are biologically unable to reproduce within marriage. By passing same-sex marriage legislation Parliament will create legally married couples who are physically unable to have children. Married same-sex couples will have the same rights as all married couples.

As it is biologically impossible for a same-sex couple to reproduce, having children in a same-sex marriage by necessity involves a third-party gamete donor or surrogate. The legal and social consequences of these three-way relationships must be carefully considered.

The rights of children are paramount. In an ideal society, every child has the basic human right to be raised by a father and a mother. Unfortunately, this is not always the case even in traditional marriages.

However, children should be sheltered from the complexities of same-sex marriages that will involve third parties. By legalising same-sex marriage, these arrangements will become commonplace. Parliament will be creating a range of consequential social and legal complexities with which society will be forced to contend.

There will be an enormous cost to society in terms of dealing with social dysfunction, psychological and mental health issues arising from introducing more complicated relationships in an already complex society.

The proponents of same-sex marriage are yet to provide a compelling argument as to why civil unions are inadequate in protecting their legal rights.

Marriage is not a romantic notion — it is an important social institution that deals with progeny.

As an elected representative, I stand by the traditional definition of marriage as being a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

It has evolved as an institution, providing children with the security of a father and mother, a family unit in which to grow up into well-adjusted adults.

In an era of political correctness it requires courage and resolve to stand up for traditional marriage, even though it may seemingly be against popular opinion.

Ian Goodenough is the Liberal member for Moore

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