One day before Dr David van Gend’s book Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of Marriage Equality was due to launch the printer announced its refusal to print “due to the subject matter”.
“This was the first time in 10 years that the printer for Connor Court has refused to publish a book, even though they have published controversial titles before – such as Senator Cory Bernardi’s Conservative Revolution and Ian Plimer’s best seller on climate change Heaven and Earth,” Dr van Gend said.
“I accept the right of a private company to refuse to print my book on ideological grounds,” he said, “but it does have a chilling effect on this great public debate. It is especially strange coming only a week after the Government tabled a Bill on a national plebiscite on marriage.”
“In case there was any doubt, we certainly won’t be issuing complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commission,” he said, not without twinkle in his eye.
Despite the setback, the book was launched on schedule in Brisbane on Friday, 23 September. The publisher had engaged a second printing company to cover the 2,000 advance-orders so books were available that night, 320 more copies were sold. The Sydney launch, scheduled for Tuesday 27 September, sold out.
Stealing from a Child, and the controversy that surrounds it, is just one more chapter in the wider tale of Australia’s gradual move away from the Judeo-Christian culture that made the West and the secular atheistic culture that seeks to remake it.
In his brilliant critique of the news, The News: A Users Manual, popular philosopher Alain de Botton points out how mainstream newspapers have the “habit of randomly dipping readers into a brief moment in a lengthy narrative … while failing to provide any explanation of the wider context”.
There can be no better explanation for the general coverage of the same-sex marriage debate in Australia. It is a collage of words: there will be a plebiscite; there won’t be a plebiscite; the word ‘plebiscite’ harms same-sex attracted youths; a plebiscite is an expensive opinion poll.
While much ink has been spilt, there is little attempt to place the debate in any sort of meaningful context.
However the question remains: What does redefining marriage mean, practically, for a country?
In answer to this Dr van Gend, Brisbane-based GP, president of the Australian Marriage Forum, and 2006 member of Australian Doctors ‘50 most intriguing GPs’ list has written Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of Marriage Equality.
While the title may remind one of The Simpsons’ character Helen Lovejoy shouting, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!” Dr van Gend’s work is an attempt to give a broader perspective of the same-sex marriage debate.
The “central thesis” of the book is that it is wrong to deliberately deprive a child of their mother or father.
By focusing on children and, in consequence, future generations, he challenges the argument that same-sex marriage is simply a private issue between two consenting adults. It is something that affects everyone: same-sex attracted people, homosexual families, heterosexual families, children, single people, the elderly, everyone.
It affects everyone because it will permanently redirect the future of the country.
“I want the book to be a clear and compelling warning of the changes that will come with this subversive idea,” said Dr van Gend, quoting lesbian social historian E.J. Graff who called same-sex marriage “a breathtakingly subversive idea.”
Across the chapters, Dr van Gend zooms out from the micro issues of ‘this or that couple’, or ‘this or that politician’ to examine the socio-political-psychological movements that motivate the move to redefine marriage, and the logical outcomes if it succeeds.
“[The book shows] how it affects marriage and family for all of us; how it breaks a child’s bonds of kinship and identity; how it usurps parental authority over their child’s education; how it eats away at core liberties of speech, conscience and religion; how it serves that century-long ideological quest to deconstruct the natural family and subjugate it to the authority of the State.”
With a rare blend of clarity and kindness, Dr van Gend’s work is proof that it is possible to outline the problems with marriage equality without personally attacking individuals.
“Readers should be encouraged that children of same-sex households already have exactly the same legal status and security as any other child, and that there are good ways to manage bullying and depression for all children, for all causes.”
However, he continues; “We can help young people through difficult times without overturning the foundation of society.”
Unfortunately, this courtesy is not often reciprocated.
“I have been declared a “bigot” in big red painted letters on the wall of my medical centre, courtesy of a local anarchist. On the same day, a gent called Joel emailed to inform me, ‘All the people in my circles would like to punch you in the face’.”
But, he said; “I consider it an absolute honour to cop this sort of abuse for the sake of something so sacred: the life between mother, father and child.”
Dr van Gend outlines three ways that the changing the definition of marriage could ‘steal’ from future generations.
“We are guilty of stealing a child’s birth right when we institute motherless families and fatherless homes as an ideal in our law … We are guilty of stealing childhood itself with genderless sex-education programmes like ‘Safe Schools’ that will become universal under a regime of genderless ‘marriage’ … and we steal from a child by stripping away her whole moral community: by silencing her priests and pastors with the big stick of anti-discrimination law; by harassing her parents or teachers or any other adults who stand up for the truth about marriage and sexual right and wrong.”
Dr van Gend’s witness gives encouragement to the many Australians sitting on the fence, unsure of entering the increasingly acerbic “debate”.
Contrary to the tabloids, most people are not bigots. The debate is always made intensely personal. This is wrong.
Dr van Gend’s book is an attempt to start a conversation, a real debate, and to empower those on one side of existing Australian law to have a voice.
“I hope the book … will empower the huge number of people who know it is wrong and reckless to change the meaning of marriage, but need clear reasons to explain why.”
“The other side has all the money but we have the truth and the numbers. We are the last English-speaking country standing, and if we win here it might turn back the tide around the world.”
“Do not doubt for a minute that we can win this national plebiscite. We know from our research that we can, if only we can get our message out to enough Australians.
After his launch in Sydney, Dr van Gend will continue touring all the major cities of Australia.
Melbourne – Thursday 29 September
Hobart – Tuesday 4 October
Adelaide – Wednesday 5 October
Perth – Friday 7 October
Canberra – Monday 10 October