Marriage is a key social institution that has had – for all of human history – gender distinction at its core. It demands the participation of a man and a woman. To say that any two people can form a marriage means that gender no longer matters. This is true not just for some marriages but, because we’re talking about a national law, it removes the significance of gender from all marriages. The removal of gender from marriage moves us towards a genderless society.
As noted above, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declares that marriage involves “men and women of marriageable age” who marry and “found a family”. Those who advocate for same-sex marriage reject such a definition for being “heteronormative” and “discriminatory”. The campaign for same-sex marriage is not just about “marriage equality” but about the denormalisation of the kind of marriage relationship that is built on the gender differences between men and women and the biological complementarity necessary to create families.
Removing gender difference from marriage gives permission for that ideological change to ripple out through the rest of our society. And, as our culture has started taking steps towards same-sex marriage, we’ve already seen moves towards devaluing gender. In the ACT, birth certificates can now be issued listing “Parent 1 and Parent 2”, “Mother and Mother” or “Father and Father”. The biological parentage of a child is obscured because sperm or ovum donors are not recognised as biological parents.
Removing gender difference from marriage also opens the door to the radical gender message of the Safe Schools material that gender is a non-binary, fluid concept. The campaigns for “marriage equality” and for the Safe Schools program have run side by side. The issues are also seen as one in the public sphere. In June 2016 the co- founder of the Safe Schools Coalition, Roz Ward, was the lead speaker at the rally for “Marriage Equality Now, Safe Schools Everywhere”. If we don’t keep gender diversity in marriage, then we will see gender being devalued across society, starting with the way we treat and educate our children.
We believe that gender matters. We believe there is something amazing about women and something wonderful about men. And something amazing and wonderful happens when a woman and a man commit to each other for life. Because at the heart of this unity there is a difference and diversity. We believe having a man and a woman as husband and wife, who can then become a father and a mother, is not just good but essential to what marriage is. To change the meaning of marriage to two people of either gender whose union cannot produce children means we’ve really lost something valuable.