SYDNEY, Australia (BP)–Australia’s Parliament passed a bill protecting the traditional definition of marriage Aug. 13, giving Prime Minister John Howard — an opponent of same-sex “marriage” — a big victory.
The new law, which passed the Australian Senate 38-7, reads in part, “[M]arriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
The bill was in reaction to same-sex “marriage” laws in other parts of the world. Three Canadian provinces and one American state (Massachusetts) recognize same-sex “marriage,” as do the Netherlands and Belgium.
Three Australian homosexual couples have sued to have their Canadian marriage licenses recognized in Australia.
“[The bill] expresses the fundamental Judeo-Christian view, and that is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others,” Howard said in a speech to the National Marriage Forum Aug. 4.
But Howard said that those who don’t consider themselves religious also support the bill.
“There are many in the community who have no religious beliefs who believe very strongly in the core institution of marriage,” he said. “There are many in the community who believe in its bedrock value. There are many in that category in the community who have the view that I hold, that all other things being equal, it is far better that children be raised in a married home with the benefit of both their mother and their father.”
The debate in Australia reflects the one currently taking place in the United States. Like President Bush, Howard said that judges should not determine the definition of marriage. The new law likely will be challenged in court.
“[I]f there is to be a change in the understanding of marriage in this country,” Howard said, “… it is not something in my view that should happen bit by bit, judgment by judgment, through a judicial process. Rather, if there is to be a change, it is a change which is to be legislated by an expression of will of the Australian people through the national parliament.”
Homosexual activists criticized the bill.
“Our lawyers are exploring the possibility that the constitutional basis for the new law is too weak to sustain it,” Equal Rights Network spokesman Rodney Croome said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “We are seriously considering the possibility of a High Court challenge.”
OHIO PETITIONS SUBMITTED — The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage submitted 391,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office Aug. 3, well over the 323,000 required to place a state constitutional marriage amendment on the November ballot.
The signatures now must be certified. The effort, though, faces a challenge in court from amendment opponents who hope to either delay or stop altogether a vote.
Ohio’s amendment would ban same-sex “marriage” as well as Vermont-type civil unions.
At least nine states will vote on marriage amendments this year, including Louisiana, which is scheduled to vote in September. Louisiana’s amendment also is facing a challenge in court. The number of states voting could reach 12 if signatures in Ohio, Michigan and North Dakota are certified.
A state constitutional marriage amendment passed in Missouri Aug. 3 with 71 percent support.
State constitutional marriage amendments tie the hands of state courts, preventing a Massachusetts-type court ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.” But state amendments can be struck down in federal court, where Nebraska’s is being challenged. For that reason, pro-family groups are pushing for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
TOOLS FOR PASTORS — The pro-family Wilberforce Forum has launched a website that includes tools for pastors wanting to preach on the subject of same-sex “marriage.” The website has sample sermons, research material as well as articles by pro-family leader Chuck Colson, who is encouraging pastors to preach in support of traditional marriage in September and October.
Dubbed the National Preaching Initiative, the website’s address is http://marriage.wilberforce.org.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit