ANDIE NOONAN and HARLEY DENNETT
It’s been a promising start for the ART Bill, with its passage through the Victorian lower house last week.

Put to a conscience vote, MPs backed the legislation by 48 votes to 36.

The passage was welcomed by Rainbow Families spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe who said she was -œquietly optimistic the legislation would pass through the upper house in two weeks.

Opposition leader Ted Baillieu voiced his rejection of the bill, saying IVF should only be available to married and de facto couples because -œlife is complex enough.

-œKids deserve the basics. Every child has got a father and mother and I think that ought to be the starting point, he said.

Labor MPs Christine Campbell, James Merlino, George Seitz and Marlene Kairouz also voted against the bill.
Marlowe rebuked Baillieu’s claims saying children have a legal right to know their family.

-œWe think children require certainty about their parents and who their family is, and that is what the bill will do.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Stephen Jones also welcomed the bill’s passage through the lower house but said it is still in unsafe waters.

-œThe abortion bill gave us a true representation of  who our community’s enemies are in the upper house.

But the bill hasn’t been without its detractors. Christian lobbyists claim the IVF laws banning lesbians were struck down as a result of -œjudicial activism and should be restored.

-œCurrent arrangements allowing IVF access to single women and lesbians are not in the best interest of children. Evidence supports the fact that children do best when raised by both a mother and a father, Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace told a federal Senate inquiry last month.

Wallace recommended the Sex Discrimination Act be amended to allow states and territories to restrict access to IVF to married women and women in heterosexual de facto relationships.

-œMore recently, for us, there have been even sadder implications of this looseness in the drafting of the legislation, with developments in surrogacy and now with one state and one territory allowing the adoption of children by homosexual couples.

If passed, the Victorian bill would allow lesbian couples and single women access to fertility treatment as well as smoothing the way for surrogates and increased legal rights for gay fathers.

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