Church welcomes Govt 'man and woman' marriage definition
Australia's Catholic Bishops have welcomed the Federal Government's announcement that it is moving immediately to enact legislation to protect the institution of marriage.
The Government has rushed legislation into parliament to ban gay marriages amid concerns gay couples could marry overseas and then seek court rulings in Australia on the status of the union.
Bishop Eugene Hurley (pictured), the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for the Family and for Life, described the move to define marriage as being between a man and woman as a sensible safeguarding of one of society's strongest institutions.
"Marriage and family are unique relationships. The commitment of men and women in the institution of marriage and their openness to children is the basis of every society," Bishop Hurley said.
"While recognising that there are many different relationships in our society, we cannot give them all the same special and sacred status as marriage between a man and woman.
"It is heartening to see bipartisan support for this move which will strengthen and reaffirm the unique status of marriage as it has been traditionally understood by society.
"This strengthening will have important flow-on effects, through the irreplaceable contribution of marriage to our society, especially through the procreation, care and nurture of our children."
Writing in The Australian earlier this month, Sydney's Cardinal George Pell described Federal government moves to legislate to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples as a "worthwhile reinforcement of traditional marriage as the basic building block of society".
"The benefits and advantages of traditional marriage are not a matter of interpretation, opinion or religious belief," he said. "They are matters of hard fact, as evidenced by decades of international research."
Introducing the legislation in Parliament, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said it would make "absolutely clear that Australia will not recognise same-sex marriages entered into under the laws of another country".
It prevents same-sex couples from adopting children from overseas, but does not affect adoption laws within Australia, which are set by states. WA and the ACT allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
Announcing that Labor would not oppose the legislation's new definition of marriage, the party's spokeswoman on legal matters, Nicola Roxon, said: "We are not going to get hot under the collar about a piece of legislation which is just confirming the existing law."
Catholic Church welcomes move to strengthen the institution of Marriage Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 27/5/04)
Church backs gay marriage ban (Herald-Sun 28/5/04)
Lib poll fears over ban on gay marriage (The Age 28/5/04)
Bishops Committee For The Family And For Life
George Pell: The case against gay marriage (The Australian 4/5/04)
28 May 2004