Friday, June 8, 2012

The ACL Agenda

This morning, Sunrise hosted a short debate on same sex marriage. The participants were Dr Kerryn Phelps, a married lesbian, and Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Time constraints, and a lack of debate structure hampered the ability of either side to land a killer argument, although each had a theme. For Dr Phelps, it's all about equality. For the ACL, it's all about the children...and something entirely inappropriate about Nazis, but let's concentrate on his focus: children.

Mr Wallace failed to make any explanation as to why same sex marriage had anything to do with children, other than to suggest that all marriage is about children. That, Mr Wallace, is bollocks.

There was a graph floating around on Twitter yesterday, showing the disproportionate focus of the ACL on homosexuality. The graph illustrated that the number of anti-gay press releases and self-reported media mentions from January-June outnumbers the sum of press releases and mentions for all other topics. (I'm unsure who put this together, but whoever you are, thank you.) I'd go so far as to suggest that a large chunk of the ACL press releases and media mentions about homosexuality also make mention of children, children's rights, and protecting the children from the dangerous influences of gay people. 

So, let's take Wendy Francis's suggestion, and think of the children.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, children – defined as a human under the age  of 18 - have rights. The Convention of the Rights of the Child include these four core principles:

·         The right to survival and development;
·         Respect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration;
·         The right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them; and
·         The right of all children to enjoy all the rights of the CRC without discrimination of any kind.

According to a media release from Jim Wallace just last week, single and same-sex surrogacy is a gross abuse against the rights of the child.

Jim Wallace and his ACL are so completely disengaged from the real world that they themselves are the danger, as we saw during Jim's semi-coherent debate appearance this morning. Jim's a former Army Officer - he should know better than to liken his "enemies" to Nazis. But he did pivot back to his point, that it's all about children.

In fact, the ACL has an entire programme called ForKidSake dedicated to serving the best interests of Australian children.

Each of the three key recommendations from the ACL's ForKidSake campaign comes from a research project commissioned by the ACL and conducted by Professor Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at Sydney University. There is a handy link from the ForKidSake section of the ACL website to Professor Parkinson’s 126 page report, yet the ACL website includes only the summary that the ACL wants you to see. Their cherry-picked summary makes for annoying reading: it includes “Some of the research findings”, and “some significant recommendations”. Any half-awake reader would know that it was incomplete. 

"Some of the recommendations" might be good enough for the ACL, but the rest of us demand the complete picture. I have read the three recommendations published on the ACL Website, and I have read the 14 Recommendations in Professor Parkinson' Report, and I suggest that you do too. This is a solid and inclusive piece of work which emphasises the importance of family and community as they relate to the development of children, and suggests an overall responsibility is at the Federal Government level, cascading through levels of government into the community.

The report does not, however, define the ideal family. It does not exclude non-traditional families, single parent families, blended families, mixed-race families, polygamous families, 1960s hippy communes, extended families or families that include same sex parents. Equally, it doesn't shy away from exploring the higher proportion of problems encountered by children in non-traditional family structures.

I suspect the reason that Professor Parkinson has neither detailed the ideal family structure nor discussed the ACL-suggested dangers of non-traditional families is because the research doesn’t support the notion that every traditional nuclear family is better for the children that any other option. 

In fact, the Report accepts the existence and legitimacy of LGBT groups within the community as early as Recommendation 1(c).

To encourage Parents and Citizens’ Associations, community organisations such as Rotary or Lions Clubs, churches, other faith-based communities, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse organisations, gay and lesbian organisations and any other interested group to offer relationship education programs free of charge in their local community or in workplaces, or in universities, utilising trained volunteer educators, or educators paid on a sessional basis.

So sustained is the ACL's campaign against gay marriage and gay parenting, we wonder if, in ACL-World, it is better to have a perfect Mum plus Dad plus two-point-whatever kids (biological offspring of the aforementioned Mum and Dad), even if Mum drinks a bottle of vodka before breakfast, even if Dad feeds his entire income through the pokies every payday, even if the home hides domestic violence, emotional abuse, incest and worse, than to have two parents of the same sex. Yes, this is gross exaggeration, yet there are no asterisks in the ACL literature.

Still, according to last week's press release from Jim Wallace, gay parenting (and single parenting) resulting from surrogacy would be gross abuse against the rights of the child.

That kind of homophobic nonsense is simply not true, and Professor Parkinson's report did not suggest that it was.

Mr Wallace’s statement last week said:

“Evidence heard at recent enquiries and a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria into donor conception and surrogacy has shown it is harmful to children to be deliberately severed from their biological mother or father.”

This argument suggests that all surrogacy is equally detrimental to the child, due to the severing of connection to a biological parent. It's not just gays and singles. Heterosexual couples who use a surrogate face the same risks and dangers that Jim Wallace links to single and gay parents. Is that what the ACL really thinks? Professor Parkinson noted the separation as an issue in his report, yet again, did not mention gay parents specifically.

And what is this about severing relationships in the specific context of surrogacy? That’s an assumption by Mr Wallace. The non-custodial biological parent may be a treasured  member of an extended family, which would surely align with Professor Parkinson’s recommendations. 

Given the ACL's objection to abortion, where does it stand on adoption? Adoption forces separation between a child and it's biological parents. Wouldn't that be risking harm to he child? Maybe the ACL would prefer that all pregnant women just shut up and keep their babies? What if the mother is single? The ACL won't like that! The entire argument is so circular, so nonsensical, that the only solution that would be acceptable to the ACL would be for no-one to ever be pregnant outside the structure of traditional hetero-sexual monogamous marriage.

This does not reflect the reality we live in.

The ACL is an all-or-nothing political lobby groyp. Their mantra is "Won't Someone Think Of The Children?" Good question, because I can't see where the ACL places children first. It looks to me as though the ACL is using children as a convenient smokescreen to disguise their real purpose: the anti-gay agenda. 



  2. If it wasn't so laughable I'd cry! Doesn't Mr Wallace and his mates realise that 99.9% of gay people are the product of a traditional heterosexual marriage structure?! The very same type of people who are members of the ACL have produced children that are (OMG don't say it) GAY! Hey, I think I've just identified the source of the gay problem - it's coming from within the ranks of the ACL and the heterosexual community at large!!!