Christian prize for ‘marriage mechanic’
Meet Kevin Andrews and his wife Margaret. Andrews is Australia’s Federal Social Services Minister, and has just been named ‘Natural Family Man of the Year‘ by the World Congress of Families.
The dotty WCF gave an equivalent for women to the Nigerian activist Theresa Okafor, a vocal supporter of that country’s tough anti-gay laws.
The organisation says it aims to:
Affirm, defend and promote the natural family as the lifelong union of man and woman through marriage, bound by faith and tradition, for the purposes of sharing love and joy [and] having children.
Its members have campaigned against childcare centres, euthanasia, divorce, gambling, gay rights and legalised abortion, among other “pro-family” issues.
We guess that Andrews – a devout Catholic – was singled out for this accolade because a while back he had A Big Idea: to fix ailing relationships with a programme that offers a A$200 counselling voucher to 100,000 couples. The $20 million pilot scheme launched in July will allow the couples to take that voucher to an approved provider, “a marital mechanic”, for a service.
What puzzles us is that Andrews doesn’t appear to fulfill all of the WFC’s criteria in that his programme applies to couples “of all persuasions – those about to be married, the already married, the unmarried, same-sex couples, and those hoping to soup up a sagging sex life”.
That said, it’s just been reported that Andrews has booked the main committee room of Parliament House on behalf of an anti-gay marriage organisation which is linked to the WCF, the Australian Families Association, but he won’t be attending the upcoming event.
Stephanie Convery, writing today for the Guardian, points out that Andrews’ “Tune Up Your Relationship” scheme has fallen flat on its face, with most of his vouchers remaining unclaimed. Meanwhile, popular support for marriage equality in Australia has reached an all-time high, with over 70 oercent of people in favour.
She quotes the WCF as saying:
For the past 3,000 years, in every culture, this definition of the family (a man and women united by faith and tradition, raising their children in a loving environment) has been considered beyond dispute.
This, says Convery:
Is simply untrue. Marriage, an institution that is at least 4,000 years old in general terms, has only been about “love” for little more than a couple of centuries. There is nothing natural about this current morphology, or its accompanying family structure. The institution has been in flux as long as it’s been in existence. If anything is natural, it’s that such social constructs should continue to change and develop along with the needs of the society, and this society demands better.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey