Thank you, Brian Greig, for summing up the ultimate outcome of the same-sex marriage campaign in four crisp sentences: the abolition of marriage altogether.
Mr Greig is a former Senator from Western Australia who was the first open homosexual in Federal Parliament. In 1999 he told the Senate that no gays and lesbians he knew wanted same-sex marriage. (See yesterday's Conjugality.) Now, in a letter to The Australian, he explains why he has changed his mind.
The purpose of the campaign, he says, is to attain “respect and recognition”.
“I see now that exclusion from such a fundamental social and legal institution as marriage runs to the heart of the prejudice and stigma gay and lesbian people still face.
The Australian newspaper today declared its pragmatic opposition to same-sex marriage. With Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (who wrote its editorials once upon a time), it regards the current campaign as a fad. “Marriage is not a right,” the paper contends. “It is among other things a contractual set of obligations attached to the raising of a family”.
Furthermore, it is a policy demanded by a very small minority which is fiercely opposed by other minorities. “We must be cautious too of elevating the sensitivities of one minority group above those of others. Same-sex marriage is not easily embraced by Islamic and other non-Western cultures where loyalty to family and tradition trump Western notions of liberties and rights.”
Today is the first day of legal same-sex marriage in New Zealand. Bob McCoskrie, the director of Family First New Zealand, who campaigned long and hard against it, sent along this internet meme to mark the occasion.
"Good morning. We want to apply for a marriage licence."
"Tim and Jim Jones."
"Jones? Are you related? I see a resemblance."
"Yes, we're brothers."
"Brothers? You can't get married."
"Why not? Aren't you giving marriage licences to same gender couples?"
"Yes, thousands. But we haven't had any siblings. That's incest! Why do you want to get married?"
"For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don't have any other prospects."
"But we're issuing marriage licences to gay and lesbian couples who've been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman."
SPOILER ALERT: This will probably be of interest only to Australian readers.
One of the gay men who appeared on Tuesday’s SBS Insight program (see Conjugality, August 14) immediately complained about the unkind, wounding, ignorant, hostile, dehumanising, and discriminatory attitude of some participants. Writing in Eureka Street, an Australian Catholic magazine, Ben (no surname given) said that “For the first time, I felt the full force of internalised homophobia and public heterosexism”.
I’m not sure what these words mean, other than “someone disagreed with me”.
If gay activists dissolve into puddles of self-pity when confronted with opposing views, it becomes impossible to have a rational discussion based on logic and evidence.
I was in the audience when the program was recorded. I heard no homophobic remarks, just requests for reasons beyond emotional satisfaction. I expected a discussion of the social, psychological and economic issues involved…
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Yesterday evening’s discussion of same-sex marriage on SBS Insight was both great fun and a frightening omen. Insight is a bit like cage fighting for intellectuals. Representatives of opposing views say their piece and are booed or clapped by a carefully vetted audience. (This included me!)
In this episode, a Chinese Malaysian and Vietnamese Australian gay couple, a lesbian who is Federal Minister for Finance, and a Catholic priest were at the centre of the bull pit. As the invitation of the host, Jenny Brockie, others jumped up to comment. (See transcript and a YouTube video of the whole show. )
Penny Wong, the politician, dominated the evening. She is a dour woman, although from time to time a smile lit up her face. She brought to the studio the authority of being a minister of the Crown and Australia’s best-known lesbian mum.
About a hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote an essay “On Evil Euphemisms”, which opened with these words “Somebody has sent me a book on Companionate Marriage; so-called because the people involved were not married and will rapidly cease to be companions”.
And later, “When someone wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people would have regarded as a social decency, the first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent. He has no more real courage than the ordinary advertiser has the courage to advertise ale as arsenic”.
It would seem that not much has changed in the past century regarding the inability to see a disaster looming before one's eyes.
David Cameron, the Conservative Party Prime Minister of the UK who pushed the agenda to redefine marriage, has more plans in this area.
In a speech to his supporters, he said that he wants the team who pushed the bill to redefine marriage to go do the same throughout the world:
I’ve told the bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation and we’ve set something, I think, of an example of how to pass good legislation in good time. Many other countries are going to want to copy this. And, as you know, I talk about the global race, about how we’ve got to export more and sell more so I’m going to export the bill team. I think they can be part of this global race and take it around the world.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill completed its parliamentary passage at the beginning of this week and received Royal Assent yesterday. Having campaigned vigorously for many months in support of the legal definition of marriage as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, we are extremely disappointed by this outcome.
How did we get here?
Less than a decade ago, when civil partnerships were being introduced for same-sex couples, the minister for constitutional affairs, Lord Filkin, told the House of Lords:
“The concept of homosexual marriage is a contradiction in terms, which is why our position is utterly clear: we are against it and do not intend to promote it or allow it to take place.”
A Galaxy research poll on same-sex marriage came out on the weekend, commissioned by the same-sex marriage lobby, and has been uncritically reported by the Fairfax Press as finding “Rudd take on gay marriage pulls in voters”.
Of those intending to vote for the Coalition, 11 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for Labor because of Mr Rudd's support for gay marriage. Among Labor voters, 50 per cent said they would be more likely to vote Labor and 6 per cent said they would be less likely to vote Labor because of Mr Rudd's stance...
While Labor's platform supports same-sex marriage, its MPs have a free vote and many oppose gay marriage, meaning no change to the law would be possible unless Coalition MPs also had a conscience vote.
A key concern for opponents of redefining marriage is that it would redefine parenthood, and change social attitudes to mothering and fathering.
This week, the National Post reported on a case in Canada (where same-sex marriage has been legalised since 2005) where a court has upheld a decision to declare a gay man the legal father of a girl, even though he is not her biological father, and it was his former partner who actually inseminated the girl’s mother.
The man, known as Mr. H to protect the girl’s identity, raised her with his partner Mr. R for the first three years of her life, and it was only a discriminatory part of Alberta’s family law that denied him — and any other non-biological father who is not married to the mother — the legal status of “parentage based on intent,” a common feature of adoption, surrogacy, and other kinds…
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Conjugality deals with the true nature of marriage and the challenges it faces today. Our current focus is on the campaign to legalise same-sex marriage. We'd love to get your comments and suggestions. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org