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Let him eat cake: Abbott and marriage equality.

In the first paragraph of his opinion piece in The Age today, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott encapsulates the condescension and toleration typical of many on the No side of the marriage equality debate thus:

“Like most, I have tried to be there for friends and family who are gay. They are good people who deserve our love, respect and inclusion but that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to reserve the term “marriage” for the relationship of one man with one woman, ideally for life and usually dedicated to children.”

(Note: in almost every statement you can think of, whatever comes after a “but” negates wholly or in part what precedes it).

“They” are good people who deserve inclusion, however “they” do not deserve that ultimate straight privilege: marriage. And why don’t “they” deserve it? Because they are not heterosexual.

It ought to be obvious to even the dullest of minds that if your sole reason for denying another human the rights you unquestioningly hold yourself is their homosexuality, then you are practising homophobia.

Neither can you give the right to one group of citizens to determine the humanity of another and call for respectful debate at the same time. The premise of the debate is inherently disrespectful and harmful.

At this point, I could rest my case that the postal opinion poll is, in itself, homophobic, and as such anyone involved in it ought to be fined for vilification by participation, including me as I’m answering Yes. I remain enraged at Prime Minister Turnbull for his lazy and cowardly outsourcing of this matter to the public, thus forcing me, because I’m not prepared to chuck my survey in the bin, into engagement with a process I consider discriminatory and cruel. I couldn’t live with myself if I did anything to enable a No victory. The sucky little bastard has me wedged.

In Britain, Abbott bemoans, Catholic orphanages have been forced to close down as a direct consequence of marriage equality. This would seem to me to be a win-win, given the well-documented atrocities visited upon children in Catholic institutions but Abbott apparently considers it a reason to tick No. In the US, he continues, a baker (a baker, in the whole of the US, in the entire western world in fact, a baker) has been prosecuted for refusing to put a slogan on a wedding cake. This, my friends, is all the drunken little toe rag has to prosecute his argument that marriage equality will destroy the principles on which our society is, in his perception, based. Bring on that long-overdue destruction, is my feeling on the matter.

This debate is about power. It’s about who controls the damn narrative. It’s about changing a society in which some people are considered less human than others solely because of their sexuality. It’s about ending exclusion. It’s about challenging the absolutely unacceptable hold religion has on our secular country. It’s about allowing the expression of human love beyond the narrow confines of the heteronormative.

By all means, let us discuss the institution of marriage, its pros and cons, its dominance in our culture. Its inherently exclusionary nature, the many ways in which it disadvantages women, all of its many problematics. However, these are separate issues from denying the privileges of marriage to anyone, solely on the basis of their sexuality.

If marriage equality does, as Abbott insists it will, fundamentally change our society, this can only be a good thing. Change will mean an equalising and an opening up, rather than the fearful and repressive hunkering down advocated by the No side, simply because they cannot deal with any kind of difference.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. John Kelly

    I too, feel annoyed that I am being asked to adjudicate on a matter that does not concern me. It’s none of my business what gay couples do. It’s none of my business who marries who. So, I will respond yes, because I have no right to interfere.

  2. Kaye Lee

    As religious institutions are already exempt from discrimination laws, the argument is whether individuals should be allowed to discriminate. This is an argument that has already been fought and won – it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sexuality. Why are we going backwards?

    If we water down the laws to allow individual cake makers to discriminate (and speaking as a business owner, I very much doubt any will), I think those businesses who wish to refuse service to gay couples should be forced to advertise that they don’t serve gays, just to save any awkward situations.

  3. Michael Taylor

    John, you are being called upon to adjudicate because the government lacks the courage to.

  4. Rossleigh

    As I commented elsewhere, it does seem rather ironic that Barnaby Joyce was complaining about people being in his face with their opinion when the government is spending $120 million on a survey in order to do just that!

  5. helvityni

    Who worries about silly wedding cakes, if the gay-hating cake-makers don’t want to make and sell their wares to everybody, then they deserve to make less money and /or go broke…

    When my Lutheran pastor ( a lovely man) could not for some reason marry me to a lapsed Catholic, we went to a registry office promptly, and have been happily manacled together for yonks…no thanks to any priests, pastors or cake-makers…

    As most marriages end up in divorce these days, I don’t understand why people still want to enter one.

    And of course I vote YES; it’s about everyone having an equal right to happiness or misery.

  6. Jack

    John, You’re being asked for your opinion, nothing more. If you don’t want to interfere, throw it in the bin. I want people to vote in this survey because they actually care about the outcome. If that means only 1000 respond to it, so be it. It will show what a waste of money it was in the first place

  7. Terry2

    Memo To : Tony Abbott

    Don’t drag me into this : I don’t give F**k who marries whom in Australia !

    Signed : God

  8. Kaye Lee

    Jack, we shouldn’t be being asked our opinion on whether all Australians should be equal before the law. It shouldn’t be up to the majority to decide if minorities have equal rights. Why should homosexuals be treated differently to anyone else? Why should religious people demand to curtail the rights of others?

  9. Rhonda

    This ought to be such a no-brainer. I’m in a 29 year old partnered relationship – two kids, house, dogs, cars, cat, chooks, no marriage. That reflects our choice. The decision to marry or not should be down to the couple, not others. I absolutely detest this fkt process, and it shames me to have to participate in this vile undertaking. Nevertheless, needs must & we shall, of course, vote YES.

  10. David1

    YES!!!!!! and let this be an end to the gutless Turnbulls hypocrisy and lack of courage.

  11. Jack

    Kaye, Most religious people are brainwashed anyway. They are easily led by the leaders of their chosen religion. In the current social climate of not offending anyone of religion, we have to accept that the Christians have the right to bleat all they want about marriage. If Australia truly has moved on in the last 20 odd years, most of the country will vote Yes. If not, then the ALP can pass it in the next government. Waiting another couple of years will not be the end of the world

  12. Glenn Barry

    Unfortunately this is a repetition and refocusing of behaviour that has existed for Millennia – Endemic feelings of inferiority driving an undercurrent of hatred which manifests in false expressions of superiority by the sufferers.

    These toxic emotions are then inflicted upon others of difference to horrific effect.

    We’ve seen it used to justify and rationalise all manner of atrocities throughout history.
    Take for example the, bigoted, illogical justifications given for slavery or apartheid regimes like South Africa.

    For the religion based opponents which purportedly worship a god of love, the hateful emotions which actually underpin their consciousness are truly awful…

    I have no reason to doubt their sincerity in heir beliefs, however what’s most frightening is that you need not review history too far into the past to witness what occurs when that hatred is cultivated to achieve truly horrific outcomes.

    Saddening that such potential and portent still thrives in our society.

    The entire concept of superiority has been debunked ironically by the offspring of eugenics, genetics, now if everyone could get with the program we might actually progress as both a species and a society.

  13. Nearly Normal Frederick

    Havent we had enough of the the onion muncher who is little more than an adolescent hoon, and obviously also a legend in his own mind.
    Why did Age deem it necessary to give him even more oxygen – he has more media space than any other person in Australia. And of course he is only a government back-bencher.

  14. Miriam English

    Kaye, how did you embed that photo?
    I’ve tried and tried various ways to display photos in my comments, without success no matter what I try.

    Ordinary HTML doesn’t work:

    WordPress markdown doesn’t work:

    I entered correct HTML and correct markdown above, but in each case wordpress just eats them and replaces them with a blank line.

  15. win jeavons

    Of course the marriage question is about power. For most of history , for most people marriage was the way of giving power over women and their ovaries to men ; Their fathers, who “gave them away” and their husbands , whom the bride promised to obey ; and many men expected just that! If 2 men wed, who would be the “head ” of the house? As long as he was the breadwinner the man held the power of the purse , which is why many women, until recently, could not leave an abusive marriage.

  16. Miriam English

    testing just the address:

    Nope. Just shows the link to the image… though that’s better than it simply blanking the code.

    There must be some way to insert an image…

  17. Michael Taylor

    Miriam, I just installed a plugin that converts the code into the photo. Take a look at your comment now. 🙂

    All you have to do now is copy and paste the link.

  18. Miriam English

    Excellent! Thanks Michael. Please excuse the test image.

    And to any of the homophobes on the list, how could anybody consider that less than beautiful?

  19. Kaye Lee

    Lyle Shelton spoke at the National Press Club yesterday complaining about how the NO campaign are being silenced. Does he not see how ludicrous that is? He has been on every tv program going. He has been quoted in every newspaper. He has been consulted by the government. Yet he is casting himself as a silenced victim of bullying????

    The NPC was stacked with people who applauded Lyle’s every word – it was frightening. It is blindingly obvious that the real target here is the Safe Schools program as Lyle and the woman on with him (deputy director of the Liberal Party I think) kept saying that children should not be taught radical LGBTQI sex education. He uses the word “radical” continually.

    “Australian mums are telling the truth about radical LGBTIQ sex ed and its links to same-sex marriage”

    “Legalising same-sex marriage will lead to ‘radical gender ideology’ in schools ”

    etc etc

    They said schools will lose the right to teach the traditional meaning of marriage. I was a teacher for decades. We don’t actually teach marriage at school. These people have no idea. The truth of the matter is that they do not see homosexuality as “normal” but they really arc up if you point out that is homophobic. Lyle says “homophobia” means an irrational fear and there is nothing irrational about his stance. Homophobia means “having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people”. I would say denying homosexuals the right to marry and showing enormous fear about the word even being mentioned to their children very clearly fits the definition.

  20. Miriam English

    Yeah. What is it with haters and the need to feel that they are the victims? The haters in the government and their shock-jock pals feel they are victims of laws that curtail their freedom of speech. The Christians who use their religion for hate feel they are being attacked and oppressed. (My favourite quote there is from Intelligent Design advocate, pastor Ray Mummert: “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.” lol )

    The moderate conservatives, who are often quite benevolent people, don’t feel threatened.

    The Christians who speak out about the value of tolerance and inclusiveness in society don’t feel in danger.

    On the other hand, gays have very good reason to feel oppressed and attacked, but I don’t know of any who feel particularly under threat from society. We’re under no illusions that certain people are filled with hate, but we understand that most people are merely hapless carriers of milder, socially instilled homophobia. We wish they’d use their brains more and realise how horrible and hurtful they’re being, but we realise they can’t help it, in the same way stupid people can’t help being stupid.

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