I thought that a debate on same-sex marriage which allowed only two-minute speeches and two-minute rebuttals would be absurd. Well, I was wrong. After listening to the head of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, debate the head of the Australian Marriage Forum, David van Gend, on radio earlier this week, I’d have to say that the arguments on both sides emerged very clearly.
Both Croome and Dr van Gend (an occasional MercatorNet contributor) are old hands, so they presented their best arguments succinctly and dispassionately. The presenter on ABC Radio Hobart also posed four questions to the pair. There were no tricks; they were predictable and sensible, the queries that always pop up in all discussions of same-sex marriage.
So who won? In my estimation, Rodney Croome’s argument seemed to be: “marriage is all about love and acceptance”. If that is his best shot, David van Gend’s insistence that children need a mother and a father won, hands down.
A row broke out in a Kentucky county courthouse yesterday when a clerk refused to issue marriage licences to two same-sex couples. When one of the parties demanded to know under whose authority Kim Davis was acting, she said, “Under God’s authority.”
“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience,” she said. “It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word.”
It didn’t take long. Within weeks of the US Supreme Court decision to legalise same-sex marriage, polygamous families have sued to have their own relationships recognised as marriages.
Kody Brown and his four wives are the stars of Sister Wives, the reality TV show about the day-to-day life of a polygamous family. The Browns used to live in Utah, where the government prosecutes openly polygamous spouses, so they have moved over the border. Nevada has a more relaxed approach to these issues.
The Browns are on a roll. In December 2013 they won a legal victory when a Federal district court overturned parts of a Utah statue banning polygamous marriages. But the Utah Attorney-General has appealed. He claims that women and children in polygamous relationships are often abused and that courts have consistently reprehended polygamy.
Katy Faust, an American blogger who has become a spokeswoman for traditional marriage, appeared on the Australian program Q&A last week. Her views are particularly interesting as she is the daughter of a lesbian couple. Facing a largely hostile audience and partial questioning from the moderator, she still held her own when she was interrogated about the benefits of marriage between a man and a woman.
Afterwards The Conversation, a website funded by the government and Australian universities, looked into the conflicting claims made in the Q&A episode. The FactCheck editor, Sunanda Creagh, asked Simon Crouch, of the University of Melbourne, and Jennifer Power, of La Trobe University, to fact-check her assertions.
The two experts concluded that Faust was wrong: “the overwhelming body of scientific research suggests that children develop well when growing up with same-sex attracted parents”.
Report on same-sex marriage bias begins at 4:49 min
Australia has finally recovered its mojo and is back at the top of the world laughingstock index which it last visited in 1986 with the release of Crocodile Dundee. At least that’s the story that fans of same-sex marriage are peddling now that Australia is the last redoubt of traditional marriage in the Anglosphere.
In the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand SSM is legal. The pressure on politicians to follow the leaders is unrelenting. At the moment only Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s finger in the dike keeps SSM from flooding in. He recently decreed that his Liberal-National coalition would not consider a change in legislation until next year’s election. The question will probably go to the people as a referendum or a plebiscite.
Same-sex marriage is dead in the water in Australia until a Federal election sometime next year.
Facing intense pressure from supporters from within his own Liberal Party for a conscience (or free) vote, Prime Minister Tony Abbott acted decisively to defuse the issue. He called a snap meeting of Liberal and National Party members of Parliament on Tuesday to debate whether the Coalition should redefine marriage.
The marathon discussion took place behind closed doors, but Mr Abbott said that about 60 MPs supported the status quo, while 30 favoured a conscience vote. Troy Bramston, a journalist with The Australian, tweeted that the tally was 48 out of 78 Liberals backing the existing position and 18 out of 21 Nationals.
What is an extremist? This is an important question in Britain today as the Conservative-led government of David Cameron clamps down on jihadist preachers and right-wing groups who stir up hate and incite violence. If you are doing that sort of thing the authorities will very soon be able to slap an “Extremism Disruption Order” (EDO) on you, restricting your freedom. Putting it positively, the new laws are intended to protect “British values”.
Just who else might be deemed a serious threat to these values has been unclear, but last week a Conservative MP attempted to clarify the issue for a constituent who wrote to him, asking if it was true that EDOs could be used to silence people with traditional views about marriage.
Australian politicians returning to the federal parliament today were met with conflicting messages about marriage. Thousands of flowers covered the forecourt of Parliament House as a thank-you to the MPs opposing a push to legalise same-sex marriage. But already as they flew in to Canberra this morning the MPs found the terminal building lit up in rainbow colours and a giant #WeCanDoThis campaign sign out the front.
A bill supporting gay marriage and sponsored by members of the federal coalition and Labor is due to be introduced in parliament on Tuesday. Australia is the holdout against ssm in Anglo world and Prime Minister Tony Abbott is personally against legalisation.
Article 162 deals with homosexual acts. “Any person who - (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal” is “liable to imprisonment for 14 years”. Homosexual rape is punishable with 21 years’ imprisonment.
Article 163 deals with attempted unnatural offences. Such crimes are punishable with 7 years’ imprisonment. Article 165 deals with acts of “gross indecency” by males, whatever that means. Perhaps a stolen kiss. These are punishable by 5 years’ imprisonment.
The New York Times reported this week that the American Boy Scouts are ending a nationwide ban on gay leaders. According to the Times, the organization was seeking to resolve an issue that threatened to tear apart the organization and expose it to crippling lawsuits. Discrimination based on sexual orientation will also be barred in all Boy Scout offices and for all paid jobs. The step, the paper says, is aimed at heading off lawsuits in New York, Colorado and other states that prohibit such discrimination in employment.
It's a pity, however, that the Times missed a shocking story which emerged at the same time as jubilation over the new policy. If they had the stomach for it, it might make readers think twice about the wisdom of allowing the Boy Scouts to have gay leaders.
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 email@example.com