Kathy Sundstrom
Kathy Sundstrom

Let’s leave kids out of the same-sex marriage debate

I CAME across this little book in the children's section of the Coolum library while trying to find something for my then five-year-old daughter to read.

It was titled Ethical Debates: same-sex marriage, and on the cover was a picture of two smiling men in suits, with their heads touching affectionately.

On the same shelf was a cute cartoon book of Jack's Daydreams, and somewhere else there probably would have been Peppa Pig.


I'll admit, I didn't expect to find a book on what I thought was an adult subject in the children's section, even though the book was clearly targeting a child audience.

When same-sex marriage isn't legal - wrongly or rightly - is the debate around the matter really something we should be getting young children to engage in.

I asked the librarian and she said the book was perfectly acceptable in the children's section and if I didn't like it, I shouldn't let my child read it.

I thought it was a bit odd I should have to supervise what my children read in a section marked "junior", not even teen reading.

But I let it go. It was in July last year and I am open and enthusiastic about  honest and genuine debate on various topics.

What's triggered my memory about this little book is all the kerfuffle around the Australian Marriage Forum's attempts to air advertisements about their idea of "traditional marriage".

First SBS, the public broadcaster, refused to broadcast their adverts, and then Channel 9 did the same on the grounds they weren't  in an appropriate child-friendly time slot.

Is the Australian Marriage Forum's campaign for "the rights of a child" anymore "adult" than an ethical debate on same-sex marriage?

It just shows how muddied the waters have become in this increasingly ugly debate.

Frankly, I don't agree with the way either side is handling the subject.

I find some same-sex marriage proponents can be very disrespectful of those who don't agree with their views.

Try and explain your viewpoint and you will no doubt face a barrage of criticism that often targets the person and not their message.

And I find the Australian Marriage Forum's argument against marriage to "protect the rights of a child" odd when same-sex couples already have the right to conceive through IVF.

These children exist and are living in relationships with two mums or two dads, so why would the couple's marriage make this any different?

No one is arguing you have to be a Christian to get married, so why should it matter what relationship you are in?

What is important is both sides of the debate are allowed to express their views without fear or intimidation.

But perhaps while we adults struggle to muddle it out, we really should be not engaging children in the discussion, particularly young ones who browse the children's section of the library or watch prime-time television.

The only fair and honest way to gauge the entire nation's view is a referendum, for those over 18.

And once that is done we need to respect the result, even if we don't like it.


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