While media coverage of the postal vote on same-sex “marriage” focused on the large rallies celebrating the 62 per cent majority vote in favour, it is easy to forget that almost 40 per cent of the population supported retention of the present law, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Demands to change the law were reflected in the almost unanimous voice of the media, trade unions and big business, employer and sporting organisations, the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, and political parties, not to mention trolling on social media which was designed to suppress any dissent from the cultural paradigm.
The 40 per cent of Australians who stood against the overwhelming pressure generated by these powerful forces showed true courage.
The vote reflects deep currents at work in Western societies.
There can be no doubt that the previously existing consensus that stable families are the foundation of a free and prosperous society has been eroded under the impact of no-fault divorce, widespread cohabitation without marriage, abortion on demand a contraceptive culture that has radically separated the institution of marriage from its natural accessory, children, and the all-pervasive internet, which operates without any moral constraints.
It is clear that most of those who supported a redefinition of marriage did so to be inclusive of same-sex couples. Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis repeatedly said that this was the only issue in the popular vote.
However, the true intent of the proponents of change became evident immediately after the vote was declared, when Mr Turnbull declared that he would oppose any legislation that entrenched the protection of freedom of conscience and belief of those who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
A bill previously released by Senator James Paterson, which would have protected these freedoms, was then withdrawn.
Further Mr Turnbull, interviewed on Melbourne radio station 3AW the day after the result was announced, made clear that the legislation would allow transgender marriage.
This is a radical departure from the question put to the Australian people to permit same-sex couples to marry, and confirms that what Mr Turnbull intends to legislate is really transgender marriage, that is, between people who don’t identify as either male or female.
Australia now joins much of the rest of the Western world in redefining marriage.
It is significant to note, however, that of the 200 countries around the world, very few in Africa, Asia or Latin America, including the most populous countries in the world, have followed this path. Around 180 countries define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The Prime Minister endorsed the draft bill put forward early in 2017 by gay West Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith.
The Smith bill has no protections for freedom of expression or freedom of conscience, and only minor protections for religious freedom, by exempting ministers of religion (who already have an unqualified right to decline to marry anyone).
The immediate issue is to fight for amendments to the Smith bill.
If anti-discrimination laws mean anything, they exist to prevent the rights of minorities being trampled on by a coercive majority.
In the present situation, the freedoms that need to be enshrined in law include the protection of individuals and entities from being treated unfavourably or discriminated against because of their beliefs about marriage.
Further, parents need to have the right to request that their children be released from any classes where material is taught that is contrary to their beliefs about marriage.
The importance of this was emphasised by Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP (pictured below), who said it was “vital” that new marriage legislation protect rights to religious belief and expression, free speech and association, in education and parenting.
He added” “Polling data shows both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ voters support robust religious liberty protections.
“Lame proposals to protect ministers of religion and places of worship offer no protection to the 99.9 per cent of religious believers who are not clergy. It is imperative that our political leaders enact laws that protect the rights of all, religious believers included.”
For the many thousands of ordinary Australians who joined the campaign to protect natural marriage – as it has existed throughout history – the recent vote is only the beginning.
The push to entrench transgender ideology not only in marriage, but in the education system through sex education and programs like “Safe Schools”, in sporting organisations, in the media, and to normalise it throughout society, has already begun.
The outcome of this battle will shape the most fundamental institutions of our society, particularly the family, and determine whether the natural family consisting of parents and their children remains the foundation of society.
by Peter Westmore, national president of the NCC.