Meet the new Wedge, same as the old Wedge

The next session of the Senate starts next week. Before each session the government sends around a list of all the legislation they intend to introduce in that session, as well as those they hope to actually bring on for debate and passage.

The latest list came through yesterday. As I scanned the list of Bills planned for introduction, one in particular caught my eye. It is called the Family Law (Same Sex Adoption) Bill. The brief explanation for the Bill’s purpose is “to amend the Family Law Act 1975 to indicate that adoptions by same sex couples of children from overseas under either bilateral or multilateral arrangements will not be recognised in Australia.


This sounds like a modified version of what was initially put forward back in 2004, which also just happened to be in the lead up to an election. It was originally included as part of the legislation which also sought to ban marriage of same sex partners. After playing wedge politics with it all year, the government took out the part banning adoption when Labor said they wouldn’t support it, and just pressed ahead with the anti-marriage part of the legislation, which was passed through the Senate with the support of both major parties in August 2004 – something I found quite distressing.

As we start on this election year, the proposal aimed at preventing recognition of adoptions by same sex couples has reappeared. In 2004 Mark Latham publicly supported what is called ‘known child adoption’, where a child who may already be the legal child of one of the partners and is legally adopted by the other. Whether Kevin Rudd will do the same – particularly given his overt pitch for a segment of the Christian vote – is not clear at the moment. The government is likely to just let the legislation sit there through the year, looking for occasional opportunities to make mileage out of it and wedge Labor on the issue. Still it may be a good chance for Rudd to emphasise one of the points he’s been making about christian values in politics, which is that it should be focused on justice and compassion, not obsessed with so-called sexual morality. It will be interesting, and possibly quite significant, to see how he addresses the issue.

It is worth noting that ‘known child adoption’ by same sex couples is already legal in Tasmania, Western Australia and the ACT. I am not sure if the legislation would affect those children in a legal sense. However, it will certainly affect those who have adopted children in other countries that allow the same thing. The effect there seems clear – “as soon as the family walks through Australian customs, the child will cease to have two legal parents, and one of the parents will cease to have any legal rights or responsibilities for their child.” A great selling point for our country – ‘come to Australia and have your family torn apart the moment you arrive!‘ I suppose it might make some people pleased if we created another disincentive for gay and lesbian people to come to Australia.

Ironically, one of the few positive things the Coalition government has done in this area in the last decade has been to recognise a spouse of a same sex couple when they are migrating here – but only under the skilled visa category. Don’t ask me to explain the logic of how a same sex couple can be recognised under a skilled visa, but not for a spouse visa. Obviously, the pragmatic reason was because our major skill shortage means we are desperately trying to attract skilled migrants, and amazingly enough, some skilled people are gay and found it rather a disincentive to apply for a visa if they couldn’t bring their partner with them. If this measure regarding adoption goes through, we may well be saying we recognise their partner, but not their child!

I found it offensive when a law was passed in 2004 saying to one group in the community that their relationships were less meaningful and valid than the rest of us just because they happened to be in love with someone from the same gender. But to use children and their relationship with their adopted parents as political pawns in an election year is setting a new low. After all, it won’t even prevent an adoption, it will just leave children who have been adopted with reduced legal and social recognition and protection, and a less stable family environment.

For anyone interested in greater detail on the issue, the history of the government’s approach on the issue and other background, I recommend reading this post on Rodney Croome’s blog, which has a wealth of information.

It is probably no coincidence that this measure is re-appearing just as the United Kingdom is moving to prohibit discriminating against same sex couples in the area of adoption. This article describes the recent decision of the UK Cabinet. At the very end, it notes that the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, also supports the measure. I would be almost certain the other main UK party, the Liberal Democrats, do as well. Rather a stark contrast to Australia, I must say.

ELSEWHERE: Tim Dunlop writes on this issue at Blogocracy. I also found the comments on his post worth reading as an insight into some of the views and arguments people are publicly expressing on the topic (as I do with the comments on my own site of course).

UPDATE & (POSSIBLE) CORRECTION: The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has clarified and corrected the interpretation I have taken about the proposed legislation, saying that adoptions of foreign children by same-sex couples will still be recognised in Australia. Instead, he says the government is ‘just’ trying to confirm that those agreements with other countries which allow children to be adopted into Australia will not allow such adoption with same sex couples. That’s still discriminatory and offensive as far as I’m concerned, but it will cause less direct suffering to children (and their parents) than what I originally feared. Rodney Croome again has further details – although I’d agree with him in saying that it would be best to wait until the legislation actually appears before we take the government at their word, given their past record in this and other areas.

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77 Comments

  1. There are other things that matter that CAN’T be provided by same-sex unions. Do you acknowledge this or do you reject this? An answer to this fundamental question will help move along this discussion.

    I haven’t noticed you being interested in “moving along the discussion” in any of your contributions on this site, Thordaddy. Baiting and trying to derail discussion seems more your style.

    However, in answer to your question, if you are talking about child-rearing, then I reject your assertion – and I reject it on the basis of research and evidence, not just abstract principle or morality.

    PCP, I haven’t banned anyone from this site yet, although I have started trying to edit or delete comments which do nothing other than take direct potshots at other commenters. I have a way to go before I manage to do that consistently though (otherwise i would have deleted your comment, as that’s all it does)

  2. Mr. Bartlett,

    You have made my point. You reject the importance of mothers and fathers in the challenge of rearing children. You imply that Ms. Cheney and her lesbian partner CAN provide all that matters in rearing this child, but they CLEARLY can’t provide a father. This is because, in this case, a father is irrelevant according to your belief system. All that matters is a loving and committed environment. Yet, this makes Ms. Cheney and her partner BOTH irrelevant as parents. This child can just as easily be adopted by a loving and committed heterosexual couple and Ms. Cheney would have to admit it didn’t matter to the well-being of HER child. Does Ms. Cheney really believe this…? Do you really believe this?

  3. You really love mangling logic, don’t you Thordaddy? You can verbal Mary Chaney if you wish, but don’t do it to me. Go do some research in the real world and then get back to us.

  4. Mr. Bartlett,

    I raise children in the real world. Is your position motivated by your concern for children or concern for homosexual “equal rights?” I believe that a child’s well-being is paramount to the desires of homosexuals. What do you believe?

    But I do notice how you inexplicably interject at critical junctures in these discussions. It always seems to be at the point when I start to question “progressive” assumptions and their inherent cannabalizing nature.

    The assumption is that mothers and fathers have no inherent value or as you would say, “equal” value. This is how you arrive at the conclusion that same-sex parents are just as capable as heterosexual couples in raising healthy, well-adjusted children. You can arrive at this position NO other way. Yet, by claiming the “equal” value in all involved in raising children you necessarily degrade their importance in being the ones raising the children.

    This means that the well-being of Ms. Cheney’s child matters not a wit as to whether Ms. Cheney and her partner are the actual parents. This means that her proclamation that, “[t]his is my child” matters not a wit. It’s as irrelevant as it is self-evident.

    The question is whether you really believe such nonsense? Does Ms. Cheney matter to the well-being of HER child or not? Or, is a loving and committed environment all that matters?

  5. According to Thordaddy’s warped logic, when I leave a comment on my own blog, it is an ‘inexplicable interjection. However, I’ll make one final response to his latest effort at presenting false choices, sprinkled with his usual smears and false portrayals of other people’s opinions.

    I believe that a child’s well-being is paramount to the desires of homosexuals. What do you believe?

    I believe a child’s well being is paramount to most other things. The desires of homosexuals or heterosexuals have nothing to do with this principle. Your obsession with people’s sexuality, which is completely irrelevant to the well being of a child, says more about you than it does about anything else.

    Your suggestion that anyone (other than yourself) is saying that fathers or mothers have no inherent value is absurd. Falsehoods and logical non-sequiters don’t become any less ridiculous just because you put bold capital letters in them.

    Does Ms. Cheney matter to the well-being of HER child or not? Or, is a loving and committed environment all that matters?

    Of course she matters to her child, she’s the parent. You’re the one arguing in support of negating a person’s parenthood, so I can only assume you are the one who doesn’t believe that a parent matters to a child.

    Ms Chaney has said what matters is a loving caring environment for a chlid. You have said it is what matters. Yet you want to make identical positions look diametrically opposed purely so you impose your own prejudices into the gap in the middle.

    You are free to hold such views of course, but if you refuse to argue your views on the basis of reason and facts and instead insist on twisting other people’s words as a way of displaying your opposition to homosexuality, you really should do it elsewhere.

  6. Mr. Bartlett,

    Is it not your position that same-sex couples are equal to heterosexual couples?

    Under the assumption of your position of equality between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, is this not the underlying rationale for your support of gay adoption?

    If we were to put this into a mathematical equation…,

    A=B=C=D (Where A is a male, B/female, C/homosexual, D/lesbian)

    Therfore, your political stance would look like this:

    AB=BA=CC=DD

    So under this equation, one is left with no intrinsic information on what’s best for a child. All child-rearing arrangements ARE EQUAL.

    Hence, you must then adopt the position that a loving and committed environment is what matters or else how to decide on what’s best for a child being adopted? Logic dictates this as the coupling arrangement is irrelevant because it’s cancelled out by its equality and provides no additional information in deciding what is best for the well-being of a child.

    You are saying just as Ms. Cheney is saying that depriving this child of a father will have no negative effect on this child’s well-being. You are also saying that the effect of having 2 “mothers” will have no negative effect on this child. This follows from your belief in the equality of male/female/homosexual/lesbian. Yet, your very notion of equality negates the importance of Ms. Cheney as a mother. She is NOT important to the well-being of this child just as a father is NOT important to the well-being of this child. All that is important is a loving and committed environment…? Or, is there something else, Mr. Bartlett?

  7. You should keep on inexplicably interjecting, it keeps the rest of us interested in the thread – even one wandering around like this one. Has EP been banned?

  8. Thordaddy I understand their is no wife on the scene in your household so does that devalue you as a parent?

  9. Pardon this further inexpicable interjection Ken – EP hasn’t been banned. I’m (usually) happy to see comments from him.

    I’m being a bit more strict on the off-topic, abusive or trolling comments (although not ruthless by any means, as this thread shows), but no one’s been banned.

  10. Kaye,

    There is no wife, but there is a mother on the scene. Does that offend your sensibilities? I didn’t think you cared much for those traditional institutions seeing such a thing is all oppressive and stuff?

    Though, I did notice how Deborah decided to leave unanswered the question as to whether children have an “equal human right” to a mother and father?

    What do you think Mr. Bartlett? Aren’t you denying a child’s “equal human rights” when you intentionally deny them a mother or father by advocating their adoption by a same-sex arrangement?

  11. thordaddy,

    “There is no wife, but there is a mother on the scene”
    Shocking denigration of the institution of marriage. Should we fear for the children of this relationship, are they going to be harmed growing up in such an environment?

    No,(unless you are not good parents) because children don’t need such institutions to thrive and achieve their potential.

    Would you prefer thordaddy, that orphaned children should live without any parents, rather than have ones of the same sex?

    There are no ideal families or ideal parents. Maybe some heterosexual parents should be required to pass a qualifying test to see how they will rate as parents. Just because they are male and female does not mean that they are good parents. Child abuse and neglect is not unknown in the hetero community.

    A child has a human right to parents who love, value and care for them and provide for their needs. They should also be given the skills in which to live and hopefully succeed within society later in life.

    How will gender alone determine the best parents of a child?

  12. Delurking now, after having spent some time reading the Thread That Will Not Die. Seems that Thordaddy is dancing around the edge of an important issue that’s always vexed me. The question has merit: by “depriving” a child of one half of the parent-couple, are you removing something that would be beneficial to the child, to wit, said removal will do harm to that child? There is also a corollary to this question: is there any harm that can come to the child as a result of being brought up by homosexual parents? These are critical and independent questions.
    For the first, I suspect the answer is yes. Children may benefit from having both male and female role models; or from an example of how males and females can interrelate. Then there’s simple practicality. As my wife sagely points out, how are a gay couple going to respond when their daughter is terrified of her first period? Or a lesbian couple respond to nightly changes of their son’s sheets? I am certain that many such issues can be answered, and indeed foreseen; but there will always be moments in parenting when one is forced to handball to your spouse/partner as more relevant to them to explain. That’s not a reactionary defence of conservative values and 1950s-era family values; that’s just biology.
    On the point of the second, I try not to have an opinion. Moral questions aside, I do not have the background to take a position on the psychological effects of same-sex parenting on the child; nor can I speak from a position of authority on whether homosexual couples are predisposed or even capable of influencing the developing sexuality of the child(ren) under their care. To bring this back to the political realm, I sincerely hope that those who do have such a background and scientific knowledge are being canvassed by the relevant people in Parliament when considering this legislation.
    Disclosure: I am married but do not yet have children. I have a good friend of many years who is gay.

  13. Gays do not live in a vacuum, they do socialise and have close and meaningful friendships with the opposite sex. The friends will have contact and offer advice on child rearing etc (just as friends do in the life of hetero couples).

    I’m also sure that gay folks can make it their business to find out about girl’s periods and boy’s ejaculations.
    Why ask to be a parent if you feel uncomfortable with those issues?

    Mark, “are you removing something that would be beneficial to the child, to wit, said removal will do harm to that child?”

    Aren’t we talking about adoption? I assumed that nothing beneficial was being removed (taken away from the child) that, because of the need for adoption, the natural parents were already gone or not in the child’s life.

  14. Deborah,

    You say,

    There are no ideal families or ideal parents.

    I couldn’t have put it better myself even if I did believe it. This is reaching the logical conclusion to a belief system that equates same-sex union/adoptions to traditional marriage and adoption.

    You are admitting that adopting to same-sex parents is LESS THAN ideal since a belief in “no ideal parents” includes same-sex parents. Furthermore, if one is to adopt your belief system then we as a society have NO criteria in which to judge what is best for a child since all parental arrangements are “equal.” We are now more ignorant in regards to doing what’s best for our children.

    Lastly, your comment doesn’t reflect a univeral belief. Some of us, myself included, believe that the substantive good that you recognize as primary to the well-being of a child is ACTUALLY secondary to the particular mother and father that provided such good.

  15. Thordaddy I really have no business in your home affairs and it is not my place to judge you on the structure of the relationship you have in place for the raising of your children.

    I simply asked you if you thought your mode of arrangements for child raising devalued you as a parent in the context of your condemnation of a dirrent style of parenting.

    Whatever you have in place, if the kids are loved, safe and well cared for, then that is a good thing and don’t you let those who obsess over the sanctity of marraige and frown on you for your unconventional sytle, undermine what works for you & the kids Thordaddy.

    BTW you are verballing me Thordaddy, as you regularly do as part of your 48 powers approach of posting. You have done this ofen to others in this and other forums and I reckon for the large part others are correct and you are a lampost barking troll however…

    As I see it one of the points (Thordaddy missed comnpletly) of Senator Bartletts topic on this post is really less to do with the issue of the pro’s and cons of same sex adoption but more to do with this Government using contentious issues to bolster their electoral postions by holding a cloud of bulldust in the form of a Bill on the side and tossing it into the air when they are challenged.

  16. Exactly, Kaye
    Howard, desperately in search of a wedge, any wedge, anywhere.

    Thordaddy,
    What is this universal belief of which you speak?

    The latest research that I heard was that in your country, the US, there is now a greater percentage of single parent families than two parent families.

    The universe, and times, they are a changin’ (that is what worries you the most isn’t it?).

  17. kaye,

    It’s hard to evaluate people’s sensitivity to issues over the internet. I try to make my point as clear as possible without attacking individuals. I do try real hard to pin people down on their position and “progressives” are necessarily “unprincipled” and therefore more reluctant to take a solid position. I can say that my children have asked numerous times why their mother and father weren’t married. The best I can do to answer your question is to say that it does matter whether we are married especially for the kids. But, my individual situation DOES NOT speak to the position that should be taken by our respective governments concerning marriage and children. As can be seen, Deborah and the like make things like marriage, adoption, mother and fathers meaningless.

    The idea that same-sex unions and adoptions should be recognized ONLY as a matter of “equal rights” leaves us all ignorant as to what exactly is important.

    Deborah,

    You are the one that holds the belief that,

    There are no ideal families or ideal parents.

    This IS NOT a universal belief, but it is the FOUNDATION for your advocacy of same-sex “marriage” and adoption. It is you that is trying to impose a new reality on the rest of us with the above statement.

  18. Perhaps our Government also subscribe to Thordaddy’s code in the 48 Laws of Power and their style of wedging a manifestation of Law 12?

    “Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim:

    One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift – a Trojan horse – will serve the same purpose.”

    I am leaning toward believing that our PM’s newfound concern for environmental issues is leaving him with a pained look on his face, commencing on Australia day when Flannery gave his acceptance speech for ‘Oz of the Year’ , like the PM is on the recieving end of a wedgie! (Translation for Throdaddy: Underpants pulled sharply upwards from behind causing pain by rapid separation fo butt cheeks)

  19. Deborah,

    You said,

    There are no ideal families or ideal parents.

    Do you stand by this absolutist, universal statement?

  20. Kaye – the true wedgie foces more on testicuar discomfort!! – thats one word that can’t be non-dsicriminatory :)

  21. hmmm thordaddy,
    you have demanded and expected much of others (those that can be bothered debating with your extreme ideology) in the arguments that you maintain, but refuse to provide simple answers for those questions posed of you.

    Numerous times you have quoted a universal belief, that which is normal etc. You have even decided what is NOT a universal belief (usually those opinions different to yours) but you have fallen short of actually describing what that universal belief is, so once again I ask:

    what is this universal belief in which you quote to support your arguments?

    Until you can be honest and forthright yourself, and not just trolling,
    I’m finished with you here.

  22. Theer is no universal belief, there are innate unievrsal needs and behaviours, beliefs are too high an order characteristic to be unievrsal

  23. Deborah,

    Perhaps you are having a hard time understanding me?

    You stated,

    There are no ideal families or ideal parents.

    How did YOU come to this universal belief? This is a definitive statement that leaves NO room for disagreement. It is also YOUR underlying absolutist belief that has you conclude that same-sex “marriage” and adoption is equivalent to traditional marriage and adoption.

    And since when did suggesting that children should not be intentionally deprived of a father or mother become an “extreme ideology?” And if you are going to accuse someone of being dishonest, wouldn’t it be more proper to clearly quote my dishonesty for all to see instead of simply asserting that which isn’t actually there?

  24. I think I’m finished with it too Deborah. This thread has more than outlived it’s purpose, so I will close it off now. Continual verballing, misrepresentation and selective quotations gets fairly tiresome after a while and certainly doesn’t enlighten.

Comments are closed.