Without protections, a ‘yes’ vote will legalise discrimination

Marriage-Alliance-Yes-Vote-Discrimination.jpgIf redefining marriage had no consequences, we would see this exemplified in countries that have already legalised same-sex marriage. Sadly, this is not what reality delivers. 

As articulated by Greg Walsh, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Law, the mere idea of same-sex marriage requires protections to prevent discrimination:

In countries where same-sex marriage is legal, people who have opposed it have been fired or forced to resign from their jobs. Business owners such as floristsbakers and photographers have been forced to compromise their beliefs and provide their services or face legal sanctions. In one US case, this resulted in a $135,000 fine.

Religious organisations that have refused to allow their facilities to be used for same-sex marriages have been denied government benefits such as tax exemptions. Universities with more traditional positions on marriage and sexuality have been denied accreditation. Advocacy groups promoting the view that marriage is only between a man and a woman have lost their charitable status.

In rare situations, those who have refused to facilitate same-sex marriages have been imprisoned.

Why are same-sex marriage supporters allowed to disagree with man-woman marriage supporters, but the reverse is considered “discriminatory”? The above examples clearly exemplify that without protections, rights, livelihoods, jobs, freedoms of individuals are denied. Thus, to achieve true equality, any bill involving marriage must – at a minimum –include protections.

What is more, even though marriage has not been legally redefined here in Australia, we already have cases of discrimination:

In Australia, where same-sex marriage has not been introduced, there are already many examples of individuals suffering from discrimination, intimidation, boycotts and legal action. Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous was required to appear before Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner after distributing a letter defending traditional marriage. This followed a complaint that it violated anti-vilification laws. The complaint was withdrawn, but only after a substantial amount of time and money had been expended on the proceedings.

Opponents of the redefinition of marriage have also been forced to cancel hotel bookings for conferences and been refused printing services for books promoting traditional marriage. People and businesses have also experienced intimidation, boycotts and even death threats. This has included university academicscorporate employeesbusinessesconcerned mothers, and lobby groups.

When same-sex marriage supporters disagree with someone’s religious or personal beliefs, their right to disagree is not questioned. Yet when the reverse happens, same-sex marriage dissenters are told that they have no right to object. How does this qualify as “equality”?

Same-sex marriage supporters paint their opponents as “bigots, homophobes, anti-gay, discriminatory” and so on. But it is not same-sex marriage to which the ‘No Campaign’ objects – it is the way a ‘Yes’ vote would completely redefine marriage:

Importantly, supporters of change do not want to introduce same-sex marriage, but two-person marriage. This new definition will raise additional challenges for conscientious objectors.

Some of the issues relating to gender identity that have already arisen overseas include parents prevented from removing their children from programs encouraging students to consider their gender identity, religious schools threatened with closure if they do not address issues of sexuality and gender identity in a government-approved manner, and the possibility of parents losing custody of their children if they refuse to affirm their child’s chosen gender identity.

These are just a few examples that could be used to demonstrate the problems that may arise when marriage is redefined – especially when it has been redefined without providing substantial protections for conscientious objectors.

As to what protections are needed, Walsh gives the following:

  • permit individuals, companies and religious bodies to decline to facilitate a same-sex marriage or related celebration;
  • protect the freedom of individuals to express their views about marriage;
  • ensure government action does not inappropriately undermine parental duties; and
  • prohibit discrimination by government bodies, companies and individuals against conscientious objectors.

This postal vote is not about “gay rights,” not about “equality,” and not even solely about marriage: it is about our freedoms, it is about the rights of ALL Australians. As already demonstrated, there is no need for same-sex couples to institute a legal validation of their relationships – they already can!

Those who truly want to “live and let live” will vote ‘No’. It is not a ’no’ to marriage – it is a no to discrimination. It is a ‘no’ to true inequality. Above all, it is a ‘no’ to surrendering our freedoms.

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