Kids’ rights at cen­tre of mar­riage de­bate

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph Opinion - Mark Dyer Rock­ing­ham

As an in­sti­tu­tion­ally sta­ble but pro­gres­sively lib­eral na­tion, Aus­tralia is not only able to en­act laws that pro­tect the rights of the vast ma­jor­ity, but it is also able to mod­er­ate those laws to com­pas­sion­ately and re­spect­fully ac­com­mo­date the dif­fer­ences of mi­nori­ties.

In the case of same-sex mar­riage, if the dif­fer­ent part­ner­ing choices of con­sent­ing adults from this mi­nor­ity group do not un­duly di­min­ish the rights of the ma­jor­ity, it would seem both com­pas­sion­ate and rea­son­able to ac­com­mo­date those choices within Aus­tralia’s laws by mod­i­fy­ing the Mar­riage Act.

How­ever, if that ac­com­mo­da­tion should re­sult in Aus­tralia de-pri­ori­tis­ing its re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect the rights of the most vul­ner­a­ble group in our so­ci­ety — our chil­dren — then we would have been neg­li­gent in our duty to that group. It may feel as if a grow­ing herd of “pro­gres­sive” western na­tions are leav­ing Aus­tralia be­hind on same-sex mar­riage.

In truth, how­ever, the way we ul­ti­mately de­cide to vote on same-sex mar­riage may be a mea­sure of our will­ing­ness to see our chil­dren’s nat­u­ral rights tram­pled be­neath the self-right­eous egos of this stam­ped­ing herd.

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