Today a group of doctors, Doctors for the Family, apparently signed a senate submission against same sex marriage on the grounds that they think same sex marriage is not as good for kids as hetero relationships.
The AMA immediately replied that this is essentially rubbish:
But AMA president Steve Hambleton has rejected the claims, saying there is no evidence that children with same-sex parents are any different to those with heterosexual parents.
“There is a growing body of evidence that says there’s no difference in their psychological development, their general health, their sexual orientation,” he said.
They also claim that heterosexual marriages are more stable than same sex unions. That’s an interesting claim since one in three marriages in Australia end in divorce and nearly a third of all Australians don’t marry. (We’ll leave aside the issue of whether neolithic property laws are really appropriate for partnerships in the 21st century anyway.)
But apparently 150 people in Australia who are vested with the authority to make diagnoses or decisions and offer treatment with regard to human health disagree with the rest of the AMA and substantial research into parenting. You guessed it, they’re a religious mob.
So who are the Doctors for the Family?
Doctors for the Family was established in November 2011.
Its convenor is Dr Lachlan Dunjey.
Dr Dunjey is a Perth GP and a right-to-life campaigner who has run as a Senate candidate for the Christian Democratic Party in multiple elections.
He was president of Baptist Churches of WA in 1989/90.
Dr Dunjey set up Medicine With Morality in 2006 to lobby politicians on issues including cloning and euthanasia.
In case you’re interested in what kind of doctor Dr Dunjey is, here’s a handy review.
Waited over half an hour for my appointment. Was rudely admitted and barely looked in the eye the entire appointment. Made homophobic and offensive comments. Concerns I had coming in were ignored.
Dr. Dunjey has run for Senate previously, but after years of Stephen Fielding and Brian Harridine, it seems the electorate were having none of it. Not being elected doesn’t seem to have dimmed his enthusiasm for foisting his beliefs onto others, though.
Along with the results of the recent Qld election, where a bunch of good christian soldiers were elected as LNP candidates and budgets increasing funding for religious schools while cutting funds for other education, this is a further increase in the influence of US style conservative religion in Australian politics. There are two big problems with this. Firstly, according to its own internal logic, seeking political power and to Lord it over the rest of us is what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing. It is associated with gentiles, high priests and Judas. Secondly theocracy seeks to enforce antiquated mythology to the whole population via legislative means. Rather than giving people the liberty to make their own spiritual or religious decisions in private, according to the freedom of religion enshrined in the Australian constitution, these moves paint broad strokes out of the beliefs of a small percentage of the population onto all 22 million of us. And we’re not talking simple morality here. Theocracy or as it is sometimes known Dominionism, belongs to a relatively small group of pentecostal and charismatic groups with a peculiar fundamentalist retrograde theology*. This is “man is the head of the house and women must submit” stuff. Lazy teenagers shall be stoned. A raped woman must marry the rapist, that sort of thing. It’s not about spiritual practise, it’s largely an enforcement of those property laws we were talking about earlier. Hence the repeated protests against gay marriage. If two men get married, which one is the brood mare? If two women get married, which one gets to be a life support system for a wallet?
While many of us grow up hearing religion connected with morality and statements about reward and punishment sometimes seem to make sense, mostly because of simple repetition, there’s not any real sense to it. These ideas are taught because of their appeal to the traditions of some religious teaching and not because they actually apply to human communities in reality. As we see with the number of priests who get busted for child molestation. As we see with incarcerated felons who become more violent after serving time or children who grow up with domestic violence and end up stuck in this themselves. We grow up with certain ideas taught to us about life and behaviour and about values as if they’re absolute unquestionable truth. This is a real problem when these values are the basis for our voting decisions and support for legislation. Ideas such as heaven being “pure” and the earth below being “fallen” or “corrupt” go back to Aristotle’s cosmology that depicted the planets resting in shells of coelestial aether. While it was a work of genius in it’s lifetime, it’s now 2,500 years out of date and was wrong anyway. The planets do not orbit in shells around the earth. Likewise ideas of humans being innately sinful, educating children with beatings or subjecting the mentally ill to punishment or death. Being tough on crime, supporting patriarchal ideals and demanding an eye for an eye can sound tough and perhaps even practical in certain portrayals in the media but they are based on a worldview that is essentially mythology. It isn’t necessary for people who wish to practise their own religion and it doesn’t carry any weight in light of the reality of human behaviour. As I wrote yesterday, some politicians would like to apply a bigger stick in the apparent belief that if a little doesn’t work, a lot will. The example was of a doctor telling you that you’re sick because you haven’t had enough mercury.
Well, we’ve learnt in the past couple of hundred years that we don’t need mercury to cure consumption, or arsenic to cure hysteria. Nor do we use cocaine in tooth drops any more. So why bow to emotional blackmail and the threat of hellfire and brimstone when deciding what consenting adults can and can’t do in the privacy of their own partnerships? Why take the cultural practices of desert dwelling nomadic tribes from the stone age and apply them to 21st century Australia? We have laws against things like rape, fraud and child abuse, so we don’t need it to justify enforcement of morality. We have freedom of religion so people can go to
seance church twice on sundays if they really want to.
The bottom line is that we don’t need these groups preaching to us or our political leaders in order to have space for them to practise their religious beliefs. We certainly don’t need the beliefs of a few fundamentalist lunatics influencing the laws of the nation in ways that will result in more problems. There is enough crime. There are enough murders, rapes and people serving time in prison. There are enough homeless people. Governing by the book, where the book belongs to the neolithic era, is not cutting the mustard. How about we try something that works instead?
*This is also turning up more and more frequently in Sydney Anglican circles. See Dr Muriel Porter’s The new puritans for an extensive study on this and Marion Maddox’ God under Howard for some history in it’s rise in Australia.