Australians will this week be taking part in a non-binding postal vote on letting same-sex couples marry. As in the United States’ battle on the issue, one of the arguments most often used by opponents of marriage equality is that it will harm children. Also as in the U.S., same-sex parents, our children, and allies are speaking out to say “Here’s the evidence that no, it doesn’t.”
Dr Jacky Hewitt, a paediatric endocrinologist and a researcher in child health, wrote a long article in the Guardian this week recapping the social science research that shows conclusively that having same-sex parents is not more likely to be harmful than having different-sex ones. It may seem like old news to readers of this blog, but it’s still vital to convince the wider world.
And the New York Times’ Adam Baidawi wrote yesterday on how same-sex parents are becoming activists in the Australian debate. One queer mom told him, “This debate seems to be really about kids. We’ve really felt that acutely.”
Last month, before the decision had been made to hold the vote, Australian Senator Penny Wong, a lesbian mom herself, told the Senate (see video below), “It’s not a unifying moment. It’s exposing our children to … hatred…. For many children in same-sex couple families and for many young LGBTI kids, this ain’t a respectful debate already.” She called the government’s refusal to take action itself on the matter a sign of “weakness and division.”
The vote is going forward, however, for largely political reasons, so that the matter can then be brought up in the House of Representatives. Let’s hope that one big lesson from the U.S. marriage equality battle still holds true: that ultimately, the “think of the children” argument will end up overwhelmingly supporting the side of equality.
That doesn’t mean things will be easy in the next few weeks for queer families. Rainbow Families of New South Wales has therefore re-released its “Plebiscite Survival Guide,” which offers “10 practical ways you can keep yourself and your family resilient in the current political climate.” It’s actually a good read for any of us living in areas with anti-LGBTQ sentiment, legal cases, or legislation.
Wishing strength and success to the queer families in Australia in the coming weeks.