Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Qld altruistic surrogacy bill - opinion piece

Me again.
Were you expecting someone else?
I thought I would copy and paste an opinion piece I wrote last month following a debate in Queensland parliament on altrustic surrogacy. Eventually, and thank goodness, the process was legalised for same-sex couples and singles. Welcome to 2010, Queensland.
But it didn't come easy. The debate was long and tainted by controversy, ignorance and high emotion. And it ultimately prompted Premier Anna Bligh to call those who opposed the bill - including every MP from my own region - rednecks. Wooshka!

Published February 14, 2010
I MAY have watched Back To The Future more times than I would care to admit, but even I know time travel is a fantasy.

However, this week, for some of us living in Queensland, it felt very real.

I found myself transported back in time.

As the mammoth State Parliament debate on the altruistic surrogacy laws stretched achingly toward the 20-hour mark, I felt more and more like the Marty McFly character in that movie.

Although, this time I had crash landed into the 1950s clinging desperately to the hot vinyl seats of a beige FJ Holden and not a spaceship on wheels with a DeLorean badge on the bumper.

The crazy professor was there, although he looked more like Ray Hopper than Doc Brown.

And in place of the flux capacitor was my capacity to be flummoxed. It was very, very high.

The 1950s.

That is where these laws were stuck and where a frighteningly large proportion of our state MPs’ morals and attitudes are stuck.

These are people elected to represent their constituents. The ones who live in Queensland in the year 2010.

For better or worse, all sides of the debate must accept that society has changed.

There is no such thing as the traditional family unit.

The definition of family has changed, broadened and diversified to include grandparents, carers, uncles, aunties, stepmums and stepdads, guardians, cousins and same-sex parents.

None of these people were accepted as true “parents” in the 50s. Now, for the most part, they are.

I call it progress, a necessary step towards tolerance and the creation of a more inclusive society.

You may call it the destruction of the family unit or some sort of moral decay.

Whatever you call it, accept it is there.

The fact is, homosexuals have been around since the caveman.

The fact is, homosexuality has been prevalent and widespread in nature since creation.

How dare anyone declare that one portion of society should not have access to the same options of having children as another.

And based on what? Something as mundane as whom they choose to share their bed with?

Surely, if we truly agree on a “best interests of the child” philosophy, it is more important that parents are responsible, caring and able to provide a safe, structured, stable, nurturing and enriching environment for their children?

I have spent a lot of time this week wondering if the conservative opponents of this Bill would prefer our children be raised with a mum and dad, even if dad was a drunk and mum was a drug-user.

The traditional family unit.

Yes, I know there are gay drunks and lesbian drug-abusers.

But that is precisely my point.

The gayness or otherwise of a person does not alone determine their fitness to be a parent.

Are they a good person? Are they fit to raise a child?

There is also an argument that some of you may not like.

It says that same-sex couples actually make better parents because of all the hoops they are forced to jump through to satisfy, or dodge, government regulations.

It also says they make better parents because there is simply no way for them to conceive a child other than to painstakingly plan and organise the process after thinking long and hard about their options and their readiness – both spiritual and financial – to be parents.

This is not something same-sex couples just jump into lightly. Buying a pet, sure, but not having a baby.

In one house, mummy might accidentally fall pregnant after she and daddy have a few too many tequilas one night. Meanwhile, the two potential dads next-door are Googling surrogate mums while making doctor’s appointments, checking their bank balances and planning, planning, planning.

But leaving all of that aside, I ask you to consider my story.

My female partner and I have a son. He turns two tomorrow.

He loves the Wiggles, riding buses, going to swimming lessons and digging in the garden.

He is slowly getting the hang of toilet-training and is learning to say more words every day.

He is the most joyous centre of our worlds and has changed our lives in a million magnificent ways.

I realised when I held him in my arms just minutes after he was born that I would willingly give my life for him and do anything – anything – to ensure his health and happiness.

Yes, the fact my son does not have a father and the questions he will inevitably ask about where he came from are big considerations for us.

I would rather he had two dedicated and loving mothers than a father just for the sake of having a father.

I am convinced our unwavering love, support and honesty will shield him from any ignorance or abuse, although I hope with all my heart he never needs to call on those resources.

I am convinced the wonderful men in our lives, who will play a big part in his, will help him fill any “man-stuff” gaps and I hope he will be a generous, compassionate and self-assured citizen of this planet.

For those of you who believe homosexuality is a choice, again please, consider my story.

Would I willingly put myself and my family through this by choice?

I say it again: a person’s sexual preference is not the sole determinant for a good or bad parent.

To hear MPs claim otherwise this week caused deep offence, as though my complete commitment to being an excellent parent to my son was being questioned.

It also caused me to question if I had chosen the right state in which to live.

Thankfully I can now mark February 11, 2010 forever in my memory. It was the day Queensland came into line with every other state in Australia on this issue.

It was the day the laws that govern the state in which I live took a significant step towards including my family by simply acknowledging that it and others like it exist.

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