THE COST TO SOCIETY WHEN SAME-SEX MARRIAGES ARE LEGALISED
Today I speak on the cost to society when same-sex marriages are legalised. The introduction of legislation that is contrary to mainstream social values causes great debate and even conflict. The Christian Democratic Party supports equality. The value of human life is a Christian concept. We believe all humans are created in the image and likeness of God and deserve to be treated the same. Redefining marriage is not a question of equality; it is not righting a wrong. Same-sex couples currently enjoy equality before the law. But do supporters of traditional marriage enjoy equality before the law? Tonight I will focus on the fact that legislating same-sex marriage forces Christians into a situation where they must choose between upholding their religious beliefs or being forced to deny them. The Australian Attorney-General’s department website clearly states:
All persons have a right to think freely and to entertain ideas and hold positions based on conscientious, religious or other beliefs. Legislation, policies and programs must respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. We are increasingly learning of the experience in Australia and overseas in places where same-sex marriage has been legalised of people being persecuted for wanting to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. To those who say “It won’t affect me”, I will highlight some of the recent scenarios where people have been persecuted and suffered because they hold to the belief that marriage should be between a male and a female, which has served civilisation for thousands of years. We have all heard about the florists, the bakers and the bed-and-breakfast owners who have been fined or even jailed for not wishing to provide services to same-sex couples. There are more stories.
A city council in Idaho ordered Christian ministers to perform same-sex weddings or face 180 days imprisonment for each day the ceremony was not performed. In Colorado and Oregon, courts have fined bakers who refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex weddings. In New Mexico, a wedding photographer was fined for refusing to do photography for such a ceremony. In Illinois, accommodation providers have been sued for not providing honeymoon packages for same sex couples. Yeshiva University in New York City was prosecuted for not providing accommodation to same-sex married couples, and Catholic university colleges have been threatened with similar actions. Catholic adoption agencies in Britain and in some American States have been forced to close for not placing children with same-sex couples. The Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Illinois, United States, was shut down for its refusal.
Businessmen, athletes, commentators, teachers, doctors and nurses, religious leaders and others in several countries who have spoken in support of traditional marriage have been vilified in the media, denied employment or business contracts, and threatened with prosecution. In New Jersey, an online dating service was sued for failing to provide services to same-sex couples. A doctor in San Diego County was prosecuted after refusing to participate in the reproduction of a fatherless child through artificial insemination. British members of Parliament have threatened to stop churches holding weddings if they do not agree to conduct same-sex weddings. The Deputy Chief Psychiatrist of the State of Victoria, Australia, was pressured to resign his position on the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after joining 150 doctors who told a Senate inquiry that children do better with a mum and a dad.
In several US States and in England, psychologists have also lost positions for stating that they favour traditional marriage or families based on a mother and father. Even Tasmania’s Catholic Bishop Julian Porteous was forced to defend the Catholic Church’s position on marriage and to answer charges of discrimination against same-sex couples. Thus, a view of marriage as between a man and a woman, which was previously held by believers and non-believers alike across a variety of cultures and times, is increasingly becoming a truth that cannot be spoken. In conclusion, I remind members of the Federal Attorney-General’s Department website, which states: The Government may also be obliged to take positive steps, where necessary and appropriate to protect this right, where failure to do so may result in offensive attacks on religious beliefs. This is clearly happening in our society and around the world.
WOOLWORTHS UNDER FIRE FOR INTRODUCING GAMBLING REWARD CARDS IN PUBS
Anti-poker machine campaigners have slammed supermarket giant Woolworths for introducing a frequent gambling rewards card for poker machines in its string of pokie pubs. Woolworths’ move is in direct response to government calls for harm minimisation measures to prevent problem gambling. In December, the ALH Group, which is 96 per cent owned by Woolworths, will roll out the Monty’s Reward card in Victoria and Queensland as its “voluntary pre-commitment” measure, after it was piloted in New South Wales. Independent senator Nick Xenophon branded Woolworths’ decision as cynical. “What was meant to be a harm minimisation measure has been turned by Woolworths into a harm-exacerbation measure by using this card,” he said. “This isn’t so much a loyalty card as an addiction card.”
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has called for Woolworths to halt plans to introduce the ‘frequent gamblers’ rewards card program. ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was morally irresponsible to reward people for accessing highly addictive poker machines. Woolworths as the owner of 96% of the gambling business AHL Group, is making hundreds of millions of dollars off the backs of the poorest Australians through its ownership of 6% of Australia’s poker machines. “I’m sure the average Australian would be shocked to realise that the grocer who puts food on the table for some families, through their gambling profits, takes it off others. Mr Shelton said it was disappointing the Victorian Labor government was backing the gambling loyalty card.
Woolworths latest socially harmful move comes after the supermarket giant recently refused to remove the pornographic Zoo magazine from children’s reach on their shelves despite a petition of over 38,000 calling for them to do so. Their competitor Coles was more responsive. Woolworths, a company which has always marketed itself as family-friendly, has announced to the stock market that it plans to drive sales in its pokie pubs with a commitment to provide promotional offers like kids eat free to drive food sales. “These places are the wrong environment for children, if Woolworths were serious about their ‘family friendly’ direction, they should be sending children the other way.” Mr Shelton said.
THE DEMISE OF ZOO MAGAZINE MAKES THE WORLD SAFER FOR YOUNG WOMEN
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has welcomed news that Zoo Weekly, the men’s magazine that contributed to a culture of objectification and violence against women, has folded. This follows Coles supermarkets removing the magazine from shelves as a result of a community Petition. ACL Spokesperson for Women, Wendy Francis, said the news is encouraging as many in our community are recognising the damage that porn is doing to our society. “Anybody can see these magazines devalue women in the eyes of men. To reduce a woman to objects with inadequate clothing for the gratification of men is not the mark of a civil society. “The idea that porn should be mainstream is increasingly being questioned and this is a positive development,” Ms Francis said.
“We know that pornography contributes to violence against women and it is good that this magazine will no longer be promoted to men and children at Coles supermarkets following the failure of politicians and regulators to act. “But it’s exciting to see community feeling has turned on this, in recent months Coles is not the only organization taking a stand on harmful material. Hilton Hotels and Resorts have banned porn from guestrooms worldwide, and Melbourne University’s Ormond College has banned harmful pornography from its Wi-Fi networks. “Just because Zoo will no longer be on supermarket shelves does not mean the battle against harmful porn is over however. “We must focus our efforts on creating a safe environment online for women and children by deploying available internet filtering technology,” Ms Francis said.