Friday, February 02, 2007

Won't Somebody PLEASE Think of the Children??

It was only a matter of time before we saw the same-sex overseas adoption ban back on the landscape - and here it comes. And here. And here.

Note the timing is open-ended - Mr Burns can strategically introduce as and when is required sometime between now and the election.

Howard truly is the master of his game. Follow the comments thread to Tim Dunlop's analysis of the issue here and you see how this wedge works immediately and effectively. The debate ranges from hyperbole and slogans from both sides, with much well-meaning, 'I'm REALLY not homophobic, but...' or 'why not let the poor gays just do their poor thing?' in between. And that's exactly what Howard wants - a divisive issue designed eventually to polarise people, forcing them into one side or another. Come election time, he'll have the Fundies First and its small but growing army of voters in marginal, swinging seats throwing their hands in the air, and waving them around like they just...err...are at Hillsong on Sunday morning.

But there's more to this - it's Howard attempting to force the hand of Kevin Rudd, arguably the most overtly Christian-friendly Labor Opposition leader in living memory, on what exactly his 'progressive Christianity' means. Does this actually mean legislating against Scripture? If so, surely it's not true Christianity after all then, is it?

Regardless, I can't see the ALP reneging on the opposition to this Bill that they originally established in 2004, even with a new and possibly less queer-friendly leader. The arguments they presented back then have not changed, namely:

a/ that the amount of same-sex couples actually seeking to adopt overseas children is negligible, and that this is all about symbolic shoring up of homophobic prejudice, not legitimate or necessary law reform;

b/ that overseas adoption is governed by the - Labor - States, and this legislation would completely trample their governance in the area (although the ACT Civil Unions debacle last year showed the Howard government will stoop to this level);

c/ is it really worse for a child, as the legislation implies, to be adopted by a same-sex couple in Australia, than for them to be raised in the orphange of a third-world or developing nation?

The hope that the Bill will be brought down by Liberal moderates instead is very optimistic at best. The ACT CU experiment demonstrated any remaining moderate senators have nowhere near the guts on queer rights as they may on immigration or reproduction. Plus, it's more difficult to take a solid, unqualified stance here. There are people - probably a lot more than we think - who are not particularly anti-queer or homophobic but who genuinely believe a child born into a family devoid of either a mother or father is at a disadvantage. Arguing that queers who seek parental rights are being selfish and inconsiderate of the children they bring into the world and/or raise, will have broad resonance.

To counter this, the message must be hit home that a child born into a same-sex family will, most of the time, be the luckiest kid in the world. He'll know with 100% certainty he was neither unplanned nor unwanted, unlike many 'unintended consequences' of heterosexual liaisons. His parents are more likely to have a greater combined income and therefore the ability to provide well for his education and general security and future. And, as per most children of lesbian couples I know (which is not to say two men raising children together don't exist, personally I just don't know any), they will be the beneficiaries of the 'village' that it takes to raise a child. There is almost always a male figure involved somewhere, and the child is seldom wanting for paternal as well as maternal guidance and advice. The fallacy of the man-hating militant lesbians 'recruiting' their daughters to become likewise must be identified and shot down.

Disgregarding for a moment any emotional argument for or against same-sex parent adoption, the legal ramifications of baring any legal recognition in Australia of adoptions by same-sex couples which have taken place in other countries will be disastrous. As always, Rodney Croome explains it better than I can, but attention must be drawn to how this will fuck around with 'known child adoption', as opposed to 'stranger adoption', as the former is much more common and tangible in the case of same-sex couples than the latter. KCA is currently permitted in Tasmania, WA and the ACT, and typically involves one same-sex partner legally adopting the biological child of the other. Nutshell quote from Rodney:

The impact is simple; as soon as the family walks through Australian customs, the child (of KCA) will cease to have two legal parents, and one of the parents will cease to have any legal rights or responsibilities for their child.

This isn't hysteria; it's fact.

I've read some speculation that it may be harder than previously for the Howard government to storm through any further Bible-bashing bullshit between now and the election. The Rancid Religious Right took beatings last year with RU486 and embryonic stem cell cloning, and with even the Government Gazette these days deigning to acknowledge the elephants of David Hicks and global warming, perhaps we're not in such the conservative environment that served up Howard's election win in 2004. Frankly, however, I think this is also optimistic, bordering on naive.

My prediction is that this Bill will pass, and like the 2004 Marriage Amendment Act, a 'sweetener' will follow - a couple of interdependency reforms, possibly in taxation or public service superannuation, to show that the Howard government isn't really homophobic after all. As always with this government on queer rights, for every one step forward there are four steps back.

Slightly off-topic: Funny thing - My blood really doesn't boil when shit like this happens like it once could. In 2004, during the Marriage Amendment Act, I wrote more angry emails than any suppoedly full-time employee should have the capacity to write, mass debated in dozens of comment threads of online opinion pieces and took personal offence to almost every remotely non-gay friendly sentence written by someone. Nowadays, I feel disappointment, sure, but nothing resembling shock or anger, because it's nothing I don't already expect.

Any tips for me on how to maintain the rage? Or is this just what happens when you become a happy housewife*?

(*Actual housework to be completed by multiple Puerto Rican cabana boys wearing diamante-studded Gs.)

(What? Shut up - it is possible to be socialist and still have staff. Hello, Kennedy family?!)


At 2/2/07 10:46 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

The fact that this will tear apart established families when they set foot in Australia is what will have to be shoved in people's faces.

At 6/2/07 3:03 pm, Blogger Superdrewby said...

I think unfortunatley this could be the big elephant to give Howard back his right wing fundy followers. After all those sick homo child molseters want to adopt kids for gods knows what reason!

I agree that it's not nearly the same issue for me as the marriage act, but this time round any sweetener woudl be bullshit, since the last sweetner (super) still ahs not been full legislated!


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