Wednesday 5 July 2017
The vote by 393 to 226, with four abstentions, followed 40 minutes of often heated and highly emotional debate, reflecting a wider, decades-long argument over marriage equality. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, voted against the move, despite having paved the way for the law’s passage by inviting MPs to vote according to their conscience.
Meantime in Australia the Government continues to frustrate the publics will on the matter. Surveys continuously show around 70% of Australians support Marriage Equality. Yet the Government, for political reasons prevaricates, insisting on having a plebiscite to confirm what the surveys show at a cost of $200 million. The simplest method of resolving the issue would be for our parliamentarians to do what we pay them to do. Vote.
While the rest of the world acts our Government can only think about appeasing a minority of far right religious nutters in their ranks.
IT’S TIME FOR THE PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA TO REFLECT THE PUBLICS WILL
Marriage Equality and Why I Support It.
More than 760 million people now live in countries where same-sex marriage is firmly legal.
2001 – The Netherlands
The Netherlands was the first country to pass legislation to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, divorce and adopt children
.2003 – Belgium
Belgium’s parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage in 2003, with legislation in 2006 granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
2005 – Spain and CanadaIn 2005 Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalise same-sex marriage. Parliament passed legislation after a steady march of court rulings had legalised the practice in the majority of the country’s provinces.
The Conservative Party attempted to repeal the legislation one year later but was defeated.
Spain’s parliament narrowly passed some of the world’s most liberal marriage equality laws in 2005, extending full rights to same-sex couples.
The move saw protests from Catholic officials and brought large crowds to the streets in Madrid.
2006 – South Africa
South Africa’s parliament legislated for same-sex marriage in 2016, codifying a 2015 court decision which found that restricting marriage to heterosexuals was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
It remains the only country in Africa where same-sex marriage is lawful. The legislation passed with overwhelming support.
2009 – Norway and Sweden
Norway replaced its civil union laws with full marriage and adoption rights in 2009. Parliament was split over the issue.
In 2017 the Norwegian Lutheran Church, to which most Norwegians belong, voted to authorise its pastors to conduct same-sex marriage.
Sweden’s parliament passed same-sex marriage laws decisively in 2009, also replacing earlier civil union laws. The Church of Sweden allows clergy to officiate ceremonies.
2010 – Portugal, Iceland and Argentina
Portugal legalised same-sex marriage in 2010 through a parliamentary vote. In 2016 parliament overturned a presidential veto and granted same-sex couples the right to adopt.
Iceland’s parliament unanimously passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2010. Couples were already able to adopt.
The country’s Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was one of the first to utilise the legislation, marrying her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir.
Argentina’s parliament narrowly passed same sex-marriage laws in 2010, following several regional areas passing civil union laws.
The law sparked outcry from Catholic groups in the country as it became the first in South America to legalise same-sex marriage.
2012 – Denmark
Denmark passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2012. Couples already had the right to register as partners and adopt children.
2013 – France, Brazil, Uruguay and New Zealand
New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legalise same-sex marriage when parliament comfortably passed the law in 2013. The law also allowed couples to adopt.
France legalised same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption in 2013, a move which attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters and counter-protesters.
Uruguay decisively passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2013. Couples already had the right to adopt.
Brazil became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage not through legislation, but with a court ruling.
The National Justice Council ruled in 2013 that civil registrars must offer same-sex marriage services, after several regions had already legislated for legalisation.
2014 – The United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland
In 2013 British parliament passed a law which would legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales the following year. In 2014 the Scottish parliament passed a similar bill.
Northern Ireland has not passed same-sex marriage legislation.
The Church of England remains opposed to same-sex marriage, despite ongoing internal debate over the issue.
The UK has performed hundreds of same-sex weddings in Australia for dual citizens.
2015 – Ireland, United States and Luxemburg
In 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the constitution protected the rights of citizens to marry, regardless of gender.
The divided Obergefell v. Hodges ruling instantly legalised same-sex marriage across all 50 states, several of which had already legislated the issue themselves.
It was the same year that Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.
The majority Catholic country voted in support of same-sex marriage with a majority of 62 per cent.
Luxembourg’s parliament overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage and adoption legislation in 2014, which came in to force on January 1, 2015.
Less than four months after the law came into effect, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married his partner, Gauthier Destenay.
2016 – Colombia and Greenland
In 2016 Colombia’s top court ruled that the country’s constitution guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage for LGBT+ citizens.
Greenland’s parliament unanimously voted to adopt the marriage and adoption legislation of its parent country, Denmark, in 2015. The legislation came into effect for 56,000 Greenlanders in 2016.
2017 – Finland
The Finnish parliament passed same-sex marriage legislation in late 2014, and in 2017 rejected a citizens’ petition to repeal the law.
The law came into effect this year. Every Nordic country now has legal same-sex marriage.
2017 – Germany
Pending – Taiwan
In 2017 Taiwan’s top court issued an ultimatum to the parliament: legislate same-sex marriage within two years or it will become legal regardless.
Some of the aforementioned countries have had same-sex marriage legalised from one to ten years. The fabrics of their societies have not unraveled; they haven’t been struck by lightning. They have not been tormented by natural disasters, or the wrath of God. They have not fallen off the face of the Earth and they have not tumbled into any sort of moral abyss.
On the contrary, the experience seems to have been a positive one, social harmony is constructive and the emotional, physical and sexual health of gay people has improved. Some of these countries even feature high in the” happiest countries” surveys and the divorce rate for gay couples is better than that of heterosexuals. I have read the after legislative experience of many of these nations and there is no evidence that same-sex marriage will have catastrophic consequences for society.
I recall last year reading a book titled “The History of Sex” and was surprised to find that the early church debated for around 100 years what was the most natural position for a women during intercourse. Therefore, I was not at all surprised to find that when you research the history of marriage it is littered with ongoing fundamental change. It is rooted in several different ancient cultures including Roman, Hebrew, Germanic and the medieval practices of the early church. It took the Protestant reformation to transform it from church ownership to the realm of government.
Early marriage had nothing to do with love but was more to do with inheritance and ownership than anything was and, marriages were arranged without the consent of the girl involved and more often when they reached the age shortly after menstruation. In addition, we must keep in mind that females in early society were treated with pro creation in mind and not much more.
For a short history of marriage in western society, I recommend you Google “The Sex Atlas” Erwin J. Haeberle, Ph.D., (Ed.D.)
It is important for both those who oppose gay marriage (and any re structure of the construct of the family) and those who support it to understand that marriage in western civilisation has constantly been subject to change, both by the church and by secular authorities. If you take the time to research the history of marriage, you will find this to be the case.
State of current marriage
The institution of marriage has changed dramatically over the past several decades. In 1997, the average age a male married was 24 and by 2003 had increased to 31. For females, it was 21 and 29. This is partly attributable to a rise in people who chose to cohabit prior to marriage or as a substitute to marriage. In 1971, around 16% of people chose to cohabit prior to marriage and this rose to 76% in 2007. Note. You can find all relevant data on this subject on the ABS Webb site.
On the one hand, Australia has an enormous marriage industry but on the other 50% of marriages break down. Marriage is becoming increasingly unpopular and some would argue in terminal decline. In Australia, there are many reasons for this but the decreasing interest and membership of churches is an important factor.
In the USA the number of married adults has dropped to about 52 percent in 2008 from 72 percent in 1960 and 39 percent of Americans consider marriage obsolete
Traditional marriage or marriage in its current state is a failed institution (some believe it will become extinct) and becoming less and less popular. Therefore one has to ask exactly what is it that needs protection. On the other hand, we might ask do we need a new concept of what marriage and the family should be.
Challenging the Christian Objection
Religion in Australia seems to have influence that outweighs its relevancy. Once the church led the way in social morality but society has overtaken it. Only 8% or less of the population attends church on any given Sunday. In the previous census, 64% of the population nominated themselves as Christian and a recent survey suggests that it will be around 40% in the one currently being analysed.( note this may be disputed because they are two different things) And of the 40%, only 20% practice their faith. The same survey said that a major turn off for people was the church’s inability to accept gay people. If fact the churches refusal to recognise homosexuality generally contributes, further to its demise.
Therefore, Christianity has an influence that is disproportionate to its participation in a secular society.
The Christian faith teaches that all people are equal before God. However, does the church actually participate in this affirmation? The short answer is no.
Often you will hear Christians say ‘Oh we don’t dislike homosexuals we just hate the sin’
I have always found this to be infuriatingly condescending.
In a discussion with a Christian friend recently, it was said that there were no homosexuals because God did not make any. It was also stated that gay people chose to be that way and not because the were made that way. This is indicative of the absurdity of the Christian argument. It is a fact that some men and women for whatever reason choose a gay lifestyle however the fact is that men and women are born homosexual the same as heterosexuals are.
During the last three decades, for example, organisations representing 1.5 million U.S. health professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, and educators) have stated definitively that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation, that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of yet unknown pre- and post-natal influences, and that it is dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual that he or she could or should attempt to change his or her sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice; it is primarily something that takes place at birth. People do not decide to be gay just as in the same way as one does not decide to become heterosexual.
Homosexuality can be observed and is common in the animal kingdom. Birds do it, bees probably do it and fleas may do it, too. Among the many examples are penguins, who have been known to form lifelong same-sex bonds, dolphins and bonobos, which are bisexual apes. Various explanations have been advanced for the evolutionary advantage that such relationships might confer. For example, female Laysan albatrosses form same-sex pairs, which are more successful at rearing chicks than single females. But they may help preserve those of the group to which they belong.
Animals unlike humans do not have moral free will, so it is difficult to argue that they choose to be the way they are. So one could argue that the existence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom demonstrates that it is not a sin against nature.
The crux of the Christian quarrel with homosexuality stems from the interpretation of Biblical scripture. Alternatively, more precisely selective interpretation mainly from Christians who see the Bible as literally true. That the word of God is infallible.
If that were so, we would be practicing the following. DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21
If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.
If a married person has sex with someone else’s husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.
Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.
The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman’s period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.
If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.
If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy’s genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.
The list goes on: The Bible says clearly that sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Polygamy (more than one wife) is acceptable, as is a king is having many concubines. (Solomon, the wisest king of all, had 1,000 concubines.) Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. On the other hand, there are strict prohibitions against interracial marriage, birth control, discussing or even naming a sexual organ, and seeing one’s parents nude. In fact, the Bible accepts sexual practices that we condemn and condemns sexual practices that we accept
Personally, I have never understood the fundamental clash between free will and literalism. Christians will argue on the one hand that God gave us free will but on the other insist that we interpret the Bible literally. Surely, the two are incompatible.
The way certain Bible verses are used to condemn homosexuality and homosexuals is born out of ignorance. Jesus says nothing about same-sex behaviour. The Jewish prophets are silent about homosexuality. Only six or seven of the Bible’s one million verses refer to same-sex behaviour in any way — and none of these verses refers to homosexual orientation, as it is understood today.
Most people who are certain they know what the Bible says about homosexuality do not know where the verses that reference same-sex behaviour can be found. They have not read them, let alone studied them carefully. They don’t know the original meaning of the words in Hebrew or Greek. In addition, they haven’t tried to understand the historical context in which those words were written. Yet the assumption that the Bible condemns the practice has led to Christian homophobia. Moreover, it must be remembered that that word homosexuality is a recent addition to the English language and is not used in the bible.
Now lets look at the most quoted verses used in support of the anti-gay argument.
THE CREATION STORY
This creation story is primarily about God, a story written to show the power of God who created the world and everything in it. It teaches that ultimately God is the Creator, that God shaped the world.
What does the creation story say about homosexuality? Nothing actually just like many other things. It does say that it is “natural” that a man and a woman come together to create a new life. Some people take this to mean that gay or lesbian couples are “unnatural.” They read this interpretation into the text, even though the text is silent about all kinds of relationships that don’t lead to having children:
- couples who are unable to have children
- couples who are too old to have children
- couples who choose not to have children
- people who are single
Are these relationships (or lack of relationships) “unnatural”? There’s nothing said here that condemns or approves the love that people of the same sex have for each other So I believe the creation story says a lot about God’s power and presence in the universe — but nothing about homosexuality as we understand it today.
Having said that I should point out that one would be hard pressed to find many Christians in Australian mainstream churches who take the creation story literally. Most are more inclined toward evolution. Although in the USA 80% of people still believe in the creation story.
LEVITICUS 18:22 AND 20:13
THE HOLINESS CODE
Leviticus 18:6 reads.” You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.” A similar verse occurs two chapters later, in Leviticus 20:13: “A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed.” On the surface, these words could leave you feeling rather uneasy, especially if you are gay. But just below the surface is the deeper truth — and it has nothing to do with sex.
Leviticus is a holiness code written 3,000 years ago. This code includes many outdated sexual laws. It also includes prohibitions against round haircuts, tattoos, working on the Sabbath, wearing garments of mixed fabrics, eating pork or shellfish, getting your fortune told, and even playing with the skin of a pig. So what is a holiness code? It’s a list of behaviours that people of faith find offensive in a certain place and time. In this case, the code was written for priests only,
What about this word abomination that comes up in both passages? In Hebrew, “abominations” (TO’EBAH) are behaviours that people in a certain time and place consider tasteless or offensive. To the Jews an abomination was not a law, not something evil like rape or murder forbidden by the Ten Commandments. It was a common behaviour by non-Jews that Jews thought was displeasing to God.
Jesus and Paul both said the holiness code in Leviticus does not pertain to Christian believers. Nevertheless, there are still people who pull the two verses about men sleeping together from this ancient holiness code to say that the Bible seems to condemn homosexuality.
It’s important to remember that in every age, people of faith are responsible for setting moral and ethical standards. Nevertheless, people of faith must be very careful not to allow prejudices to determine what those standards should be.
There are other Bible verses readily quoted from the Book of Romans and of course the story of Sodom both of which can be shown to be misinterpreted and not necessarily in a homosexual context. I think an often-overlooked scripture that supports the existence of homosexuality is Mathew 19 Verse 11 Jesus is talking about marriage and say’s ‘For there are different reasons why men cannot marry. Some because they were born that way.’
That to me is very compelling.
Historically, people’s misinterpretation of the Bible has left a trail of suffering, bloodshed, and death.
Misinterpreted the Bible has done terrible things. The Bible has been misused to defend bloody crusades and tragic inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support Hitler’s Third Reich and the Holocaust; to oppose medical science; to condemn interracial marriage; to execute women as witches; and to support the Ku Klux Klan. Shakespeare said it this way: “Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
It’s time we re-defined the concept of family and allowed same sex marriage.
It is difficult in 2013 to believe that any sensible government would not be swimming with the tide of public opinion. Over 60% of Australians support same sex marriage. If the ALP is looking to resurrect its popular base then surely they must return to their ideological roots and support a change to the marriage act at its next national conference.
Gay people like heterosexual people fall in love with each other but in this country are denied legal recognition within the institution of marriage. Society say’s that it’s all right for gays to pay taxes, vote or even die for their country but legal marriage is out of the question.
Yes, gay folk are real people with real hearts and their love for their partners is just as precious as the love between a man and a woman. Moreover, they want to get married for exactly the same reasons as everyone else does. They’re in love. They want to make a commitment to each other.
This is a matter of gender, equality, natural justice and human rights. I do not see how allowing same-sex couples to get married hurts anyone else. Marriage brings so much joy, not to mention for families and friends. Every mum wants to see her son or daughter get married. It should not make any difference if her kid is gay.
Research has shown that gay people make loving parents. Sexual orientation makes no difference to one’s ability to parent. Hence gay and lesbian couples can be just as good as parents as heterosexual couples. Kids deserve the stability that comes with marriage. The whole of society benefits with more love in the world. It is nonsense for people to say that marriage will be devalued if consent is given to homosexuals. Heterosexuals have already considerably damaged the institution. It seems to me that if more people get married the more relevant marriage will become.
Straight people don’t have to believe in God or go to church to get married, so why is religion suddenly a big issue when we’re talking about gays getting married? And most importantly, we’re talking about civil marriage here, so it’s a civil rights issue. If the church does not want to marry, gay people then so be it. They need not be compelled to do so. Gay’s I am sure would be happy at the registry office. I do concede though that Christian gays would prefer a religious church ceremony.
Even if Christians believe the homosexual union of marriage is wrong does it follow that they have the right to impose that view on an Australian secular society.
The bottom line is that marriage is about love and commitment, a big commitment. If someone is willing to make that kind of commitment, we should not be stopping him or her. We should be saying “go for it”, and “we’ll be there to support you every step of the way”.
“It’s really simple. If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex.”
In other words, why not allow gay marriage?
Ending Sexual Apartheid Michael Kirby
The Gay Christian Network
Australian Labor Party
A History of Marriage – Magnus Hirschfeld
The Bible and Gays – The Rev Mel White