In a post below, I noted the recent ALP Party Conference in which the wording of their platform on marriage was altered to remove reference to “a man and a woman”. I have received some correspondence from Rob Ward, the Victorian State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby which clarifies this a little.
Last week he sent out a circular email which read as follows:
You might have seen media and other reports over the weekend about a push for gay marriage at the Australian Labor Party National Conference. What really happened?
Well, we were there. Our chief of staff Lyle Shelton was at the conference and was able to communicate directly to delegates the strength of feeling in the Christian community about this issue.
Gay activists were unsuccessful in achieving their aims. Although they did change the wording of the ALP’s platform they did not change the substance of the Party’s support for marriage.
Because of relationships built up in all political parties over many years, ACL was able to play a key role in ensuring that marriage as defined in the Marriage Act (i.e. between one man and one woman) remained in the ALP’s platform.
The good result at the weekend was in the end due to the intervention earlier in the week of the Prime Minister. But even his strong support for marriage has a shelf life against the momentum for gay marriage which has sadly built up over the years. Whilst we have been successful in holding the line on marriage for now, those pushing for gay marriage have vowed they will not stop until they achieve their aims. Even today a gay commentator stated “Kevin Rudd will not be there forever”. She is right.
The decision at the weekend has bought us valuable time to make the case for marriage and its importance for children and society. Our opponents, who represent less than two per cent of the population, are very active politically in pursuit of their goals. As we seek to turn public and political opinion in the next couple of years we will need an active and supportive church.
What occurred at the weekend was a miracle against the tide of global political trends. It confirms to us that we have been given a window of opportunity to ensure our nation retains marriage. We hope you will continue to partner with us in this and the many other important tasks that confront our society – one that seems so quick to deny Christ in its values.
Curious to learn more, I emailed him back to ask if he could tell me exactly what significance the change of the platform wording has for the “substance” of the party’s support for marriage? This is his reply:
David, as we understand it, the minor changes in the wording approved at the Conference do not alter the commitment towards only supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman. The quote below is from the Attorney General in his speech to the conference:
The support of Australia’s faith-based communities, consistent with undertakings made before the last election and indeed reflected in our current platform, was based on those reforms not undermining the institution of marriage.
Marriage is defined, as the amendment reflects, that we acknowledge and commit to the definition of marriage. That is defined in the Marriage Act as being between a man and a woman. And indeed that definition, I believe, is certainly consistent with the provision of the Australian Constitution.
The amendment confirms, in clear terms, that to be the position of the Party.
I should also place on the record that that Prime Minister has made it clear that a Labor Government will not support any form of recognition of relationships that undermines marriage.
Indeed, he recently said when asked about that:
“when it comes to civil unions, civil unions mean the effective amendment of the Marriage Act and that is something that we don’t support.”
I have also made public statements in similar terms.
I should place on the record that this resolution is not intended to, and does not support, any form of legislative or other action that in any way undermines the institution of marriage which is defined, as I’ve indicated in the Commonwealth Marriage Act, as being between a man and a woman.
It seems as though the phrase ‘that mimics marriage’ was considered offensive by some proponents of same-sex marriage. Its removal does not change the intent of the policy at all.
Hope this helps explain it better!