Canada redefined marriage in 2005, but it has not stopped there. Last week, the ‘All Families Are Equal Act’, redefined parenthood and family as well.
The ‘All Families Are Equal Act’ removed the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from the law, replacing them with the de-gendered term ‘parent.’ As if this did not go far enough, the new law also allows up to four ‘parents’ to be listed on a birth certificate, and to share equal parental status - irrespective of biological or legal relationship to each other or to the child.
Under the law, the four 'parents' of a child are determined by a "pre-conception agreement" and not by biology. Mothers and fathers are being told that their role in a child's life, once respected as unique and irreplaceable, is now thoroughly unimportant. Children are being denied the right to know who their mother and father are by a law which dictates that such things do not - and must not - matter to a child.
The move undoes the great work which has been done in recent years which recognised the need for children to know their history and put an end to 'closed' adoptions and anonymous gamete donation.
It also throws dramatic uncertainty into the life of a child, with up to four different people being involved in decisions about a child's upbringing, health and education, as well as having a "right" to custody in the case of separation and divorce. It is a dramatic and disturbing redefinition of family.
John Sikkema explains the dramatic effects in an article in the National Post, which confirms that the law:
…erases the basic, core rule of our law that a person is the child of her natural parents and deletes all references to “mother,” “father,” and “natural parents” from Ontario statutes, replacing them simply with “parent.” It also removes references in some statues to persons being related “by blood,” while expanding its meaning in others to include new forms of legal family relationships that are not, in fact, blood relationships.
What is it that makes a child “contemplated” by a “pre-conception parentage agreement” ... other than their signatures? How do we know if being shared by up to four unmarried and unrelated “parents” is in a child’s best interest, especially when such an arrangement need not be approved by a court?
Will the child rotate between four homes? Who will make decisions about the child’s health and education? It can be difficult enough for a married couple to reach such decisions.
The 'All Families Are Equal Act' is a direct result of the redefinition of marriage because the law now requires ‘equality’ to extend to all forms of ‘parenting,’ even those with no basis in biology.
A birth certificate, once the primary document of identification for a child, has become yet another public affirmation of the relationship between adults. Adult desires are once again being prioritised over the rights of children: in this case, the basic human right to an identity.
The consequences of redefining marriage do not just stop at the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Changing the basis on which society is built results in confusion about other laws upon which the world is built. Australia needs to take a step back to consider the price that comes with redefining marriage to legalise same-sex marriage. Are we ready to pay that price?