Bill denies kids what they need

The words "mum" and "dad" offer intrinsically different comfort when you say them as a child, and even as an adult.

Most of us, no doubt, would agree, and would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad. But that is what the Marriage Amendment Bill will require of some kids in generations to come. That is why I don't support the bill.

By changing the definition of marriage, children will be up for adoption by same-sex couples. That means some kids will be denied the right to either a mother or a father, while their peers, by luck of birth, will be allowed both.

Of course, a lot of people argue the Marriage Amendment Bill is about love, and equality. But love or equality for who? These terms sound great, and they capture our emotions, but taking a moment to think about them makes us realise that in practice, they demand compromise from someone - either gay couples who must compromise the right to raise children, or children, who must compromise the right to have both a mum and a dad.

Unfortunately, that is the way the world works. One person's right inevitably tramples on the right of someone else.

It is often very difficult to decide whose rights win, which is why there are so many court cases, and indeed courts, all about human rights. But when it comes to adults' rights conflicting with the rights of children, most of us would agree that children should come first.

That is why the group Homovox started in France. It consists of homosexual couples who disagree with same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. As one contributor says: "The law should seek what is best for a child, and that is to have a mother and a father." Gay Irish political commentator Richard Waghorn also disagrees with gay marriage on this basis, saying: "What that amounts to is the kind of marriage that puts adults before children. That, in my opinion, is ultimately selfish, and far too high a price to pay simply for the token gesture of treating opposite-sex relationships and same-sex relationships identically."

Of course, there are those who argue it is better to bring up a child in a loving homosexual relationship than it is for them to be raised in an antagonistic heterosexual relationship. But if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair. And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union, the statistics paint a very clear picture.

That is not, as Waghorn says, "to cast aspersions on other families," it simply highlights what we know from experience; having a loving mum and dad is a very important part of growing up. Rather than voting to take away an irreplaceable part of childhood, let's reconsider the bill, and work out how to make sure all kids grow up with what they need.

Narelle Henson is a new columnist for the Waikato Times.