This is the heart of opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that future children must miss out on either their mother or their father. That’s because ‘marriage and parenting’ is a compound right under Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “the right to marry and to found a family”. Therefore, homosexual ‘marriage’ includes both the legal recognition of an exclusive relationship and the right to form a family by artificial reproduction – such as surrogacy.

As the result of a law for ‘marriage equality’, future children will be deprived of the primal relationship with either their mother or their father – not through tragic circumstance, but by an Act of Parliament. Of course, there are already tragic situations where a child misses out on her mother or father, such as the death or desertion of a parent – but that is not something we would wish upon a child, and it is not something a government should ever impose upon a child. Legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ would impose this deprivation in a premeditated way on any child created within that institution. There are already situations where broken families reform as a homosexual household and nothing can or should be done about that. What we must not allow, however, is the situation where government facilitates the deliberate creation of motherless or fatherless families. There are already situations where single parents have to raise a child on their own, and in my experience as a GP they often do a great job – but I have never met a single parent who planned for their child to miss out on the other parent. That is the difference with a law for same-sex ‘marriage’.

Some people also raise the scenario of an abusive mother and father and argue that it is better for a child to have two loving same-sex careers than a dysfunctional pair of biological parents. But neither option gives a child what she needs. Just because a child in one house is being mistreated by her father does not make it ‘right’ that a child in another house should be forced to miss out on her father altogether. We must reject both scenarios, restraining parents who would inflict abuse while also restraining governments who would inflict laws that steal a child’s birthright to her own mum and dad. Other people, like Labor Senator Penny Wong, insist that because some same-sex couples already obtain children by adoption or surrogacy, nothing is going to change with same-sex ‘marriage’. That is not correct. A number of states rightly prohibit same-sex couples (and single people) from adopting or creating a child by surrogacy or IVF since that is not considered to be in the best interests of the child.

It is important to understand that the ethical objection applies equally to single people as to same-sex couples, since neither family structure can give a child what she deserves: a father-relationship and a mother-relationship. At the time of writing, single people and same-sex couples cannot adopt in Queensland or South Australia. They cannot obtain a child by surrogacy in Western Australia or South Australia. Likewise, a lesbian couple cannot create a child by IVF in South Australia. Present permissive laws are also open to reversal: in Queensland, the opposition LNP has a policy to overturn Labor’s surrogacy provisions for single people and same-sex couples. Surrogacy and adoption are state issues and they will come and go according to the policies of rival parties, but a federal law for same-sex ‘marriage’ would overrule any state prohibitions on same-sex adoption and surrogacy. Such a law would become the nationwide, permanent violation of a child’s right, where possible, to be raised by both mother and father. It is a law with teeth.

David van Gend is a family doctor in Toowoomba and president of the Australian Marriage Forum. This is an excerpt from David’s recent best-selling book defending the truth of marriage and the rights of the child – available from Koorong: Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’