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The desperation of marriage equality opponents

A disturbing trend is emerging in the same-sex marriage debate. Reminiscent of a child throwing a tantrum, individuals and representatives of organisations opposed to equality are stamping their feet and resorting to more desperate threats. While it may be easy to write these people off as educationally challenged, for the most part they are not. So what on earth makes grown men and women resort to infantile tactics to fight the prospect of gay marriage being legalised in Australia?

Marriage is presently only legal between a consenting adult man and woman. If marriage equality were achieved, the only part to change would be the man and woman part. It would be replaced with something gender inclusive and non-specific, like ‘two people’ or ‘two persons’. This automatically removes any of the absurd arguments that a change would lead to legalising polygamy or the marriage between a man and his dog.

The Marriage Act also sensibly requires adult partners, who cannot be a direct blood relation or legal guardian, to voluntarily enter into marriage, quashing the ridiculous notion that if marriage is about ‘love’, parents will suddenly be able to marry their children.

After clearing up these points on definition, the remaining arguments against marriage equality are somewhat illogical and ever-increasingly desperate.

People who are not personally impacted by same-sex marriage (assuming they are not secretly gay and commitment-phobic), are resorting to bizarre threats to attempt to stop what they perceive as legitimising the ‘homosexual lifestyle’.

But what is this ‘homosexual lifestyle’ and why is it such a threat to the vocal minority?

Are they afraid that gay love and gay sex and gay household distribution of chores and gay financial support and gay parental responsibilities and gay picnics at the park or gay walks along the beach will become the norm?

Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, is one of the conservative white men standing in the way of same-sex marriage. He famously stated in 2010 that he felt ‘threatened’ by homosexuals and that homosexuality challenged the ‘right order of things’. Abbott preferred a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to gay relationships.

However traditionally stereotyped gender roles are the only things threatened by same-sex marriage. For someone like Tony Abbott, who believed the biggest achievement for women was the repeal of the carbon tax, it is conceivable he would be confused about which of two women in a same-sex marriage would do the ironing.

Same-sex marriage is about equality. It is about social acceptable and approval. It is about removing institutionalised discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is about removing different laws for people based on who they are. It’s about taking the ‘gay’ out of the debate and making it irrelevant to the right to marry the person of choice.

In the latest petulant threat, the Presbyterian Church of NSW has discussed withdrawing from performing legal marriage ceremonies if equality is achieved.

Seriously.

It’s not clear what the Church hopes to gain from this, other than to make a statement of its support of discrimination and outdated beliefs based on selected text from a religious book.

But in reality, boycotting legal marriage will only impact on heterosexual couples of that religious denomination who actually desire a legal marriage. It will have no impact at all on same-sex couples. Much like opposite sex couples threatening to divorce.

A random woman, angry that committed, adult couples might be given the right to celebrate their love with marriage, is calling for the boycotting of businesses who publicly support equality. No Australian has yet threatened to self-immolate.

The childish threats amount to pouty foot-stomping in reaction to the rest of the country moving forward and desiring to update the rulebook in line with a modern, progressive nation.

But these threats, while hardly effective, disclose a nastiness that cannot be ignored. Attempting to force personal (religious or not) ideology and bigoted beliefs on other people in the community reinforces discriminative and dangerous views. Those who identify as LGBTI already suffer more violence, bullying and harassment than other groups in society.

The concept of moving forward with equality seems lost on senior Government Ministers, in particular, Nationals Leader, Barnaby Joyce, who alleges that Asian countries will see Australia as ‘decadent’ if it achieves marriage equality. He is afraid legalising same-sex marriage will threaten the livestock trade with Asia, despite New Zealand having seen no adverse consequences. It’s surprising he hasn’t called for the reintroduction of the death penalty and imprisonment for gays to win favour with Australia’s trading partners.

Not content with seeking validation from Asia on domestic equality policy, Senator Eric Abetz unhelpfully suggested frontbenchers should resign for representing the majority view of Australians.

However the most harmful of arguments comes from those who believe same-sex marriage will damage children. This is a favoured argument from the Australian Christian Lobby, who is demonising every parent who has raised non-biological children. The Catholics are also weighing in, ensuring children are further stigmatised by distributing an anti-same-sex marriage booklet to its private schools.

Outspoken opponents, relying on religious arguments while ignoring that the majority of Christians support same-sex marriage, argue for the ‘rights of the child’. They discard studies which show children of gay parents turn out just fine. They point out that children of gay couples might be subject to bullying, without acknowledging that it is their own bigoted views and institutionalised discrimination that supports this. They fail to accept that if they demonstrated Christian values, like empathy, compassion and unconditional love, perhaps children of gay couples would cease to be targeted.

Australia is one of the last western democracies to legalise marriage equality after the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favour of same-sex marriage. But Abbott is unperturbed. He states there is little chance of a marriage equality bill being debated or put to the vote on his watch.

Same-sex marriage isn’t the threat.

The threat is turning to outdated religious codes to justify inequality, intolerance and discrimination. The threat is people who live by those same religious codes, persecuting and vilifying people because of sexual orientation. The threat is allowing fundamentalists and extremists to push their own views on the rest of the Australian public, fuelling more hate and discrimination.

And then there is Abbott, ensuring his personal beliefs remain entrenched in legislation to lessen the discomfort he feels about same-sex relationships. Abbott proclaims that he stands for ‘all of us’, that his party has always been the one to ‘turn on the lights’ and he ‘seeks hope, reward and opportunity for everyone’.

Unless that hope and opportunity threatens his personal ideology. Then he will stand in the way of equality and attempt to turn out that light.

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23 comments

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  1. Lee

    Fr Rod Bower, of the Anglican Parish of Gosford, posted this on Facebook yesterday.

    The bible does not condemn homosexuality. There I said it! In fact the biblical writers have no concept of sexual orientation whatsoever. So before biblical literalists start firing texts at me like bullets, lets take a chill pill and appreciate Leviticus and Romans for what they really say. We do well to understand biblical texts within their own terms of reference, not within ours, as difficult as that can be.

    It is true that the bible condemns what we understand as homosexual activity. The trouble is that the bible does not comprehend this as homosexual activity. These writers only recognize this as “heterosexuals” behaving in deviant ways. Fundamentalist Christians continue to engage this issue within the same terms of reference and the same lack of understanding.

    In fact there is no understanding of the spectrum of sexual orientation at all. St Paul in his letter to the Romans clearly sees opposite sex attraction as “natural” for all humanity. This we now know not to be the case.

    So all the bible actually says about this particular subject is: Straight people shouldn’t have gay sex. As a real bible believing Christian I fully accept this teaching. But for far too long homophobic cultures and societies have forced gay and lesbian people to have straight sex. Hopefully, as marriage equality dawns the age of homophobia will end.

    Fr Rod.

    an interesting link:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-michael-rothbaum/the-problem-of-homophobia-in-leviticus_b_3563972.html

  2. Richard Knowles

    It is said Australia is a multicultural society. Is this is necessarily so? I suspect ours is a society where a group of people with a particular idealogical bent – say the current lot in power – can acquire power and then seek to impose on the rest us a particular world-view that is in disconnect with our plurality. This may explain the current hysteria surrounding same sex marriage. Those in government and with a particular world-view that is reflected in a heterosexual definition of marriage see a threat and are determined to quash the call for a pluralistic definition of marriage. Maybe and sadly our system of government does not actually reflect its representatives? How else can we explain the failure of the current Federal government to make Parliamentary time for a same sex marriage bill?

  3. miriamenglish

    The same sex marriage issue certainly lays bare for all to see just how undemocratic Australia is. Tony Abbott will impose his homophobia on the rest of Australia “at all costs”. I truly hope it loses him the election.

    What I don’t understand is when homophobes talk about the threat to marriage. What threat? Straight marriages continue exactly the way they did before in places that have legalised same sex marriage. In fact it could be said that welcoming gay marriage actually strengthens traditional marriage because it stops people using marriage as a tool of hate and spite and exclusion, and lets it be just about love, as surely it should be.

  4. stephentardrew

    Mummy I don’t want the big bad gay people to have a life God told me to go stick it to em but they are all ganging up on me.

    Time to become all powerful ruler of the world and f*ck those queer morons.

    Now sonny I told you to be subtle and lie otherwise they will realise you are Satin.

  5. Kaye Lee

    My husband and I argued about this last night. His view was why are we wasting time on this which is the view being put forward by the government – we have higher priorities – which has understandably created an avalanche of “walk and chew gum” comments.

    I agreed with him – why the hell are we wasting time on this. Just get it done! Everyone knows it is inevitable so not doing it is indeed imposing a minority view on the citizens of Australia, just because they can.

    Yet another reason for our young people to mobilise.

  6. Eva

    There’s a big part of me that thinks the more this issue is raised, the more Tone will refuse to change the Marriage Act, as he clearly doesn’t like being told what to do. But then if the issue isn’t constantly raised, he will think no one cares about it and take it as support for retaining the existing definition. I guess in this scenario, it’s a lose/lose while Abbott is in charge, unless he sees it as an election winner.

  7. roaminruin

    “Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values. But it must never, never dictate my politics.” Tony Abbott. PM, hypocrite and humbug.

    Take heart – gay marriage, Q&Agate and the flag-bedecked “death cult” narrative is revealing this lot to the swinging voters for what they are. And the gormless dullards of the LNP are too stupid and too ideological to see it.

  8. Lee

    Eva, Tony’s stance on gay marriage won’t be an election winner. The majority of Australians are in agreement with it. But the more he digs his heels in, the less likely he is to win the next election.

  9. Eva

    Sorry, Lee. I should have clarified. The election winner would be Tony suddenly allowing debate and vote on marriage equality, as in switching sides to try and get the win. And yes, if he keeps going the way he is, he will lose more voters.

  10. Matters Not

    Eva @ July 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm said:

    as he clearly doesn’t like being told what to do

    While that’s true, his objection(s) to ‘gay marriage’ is/are much deeper than that.

    First, Tony is an adherent to a religion that, in theory, regard homosexual ‘practices’ as being ‘unnatural’ and therefore sinful. He is not alone in that view. Indeed it’s a fundamental principle that motivates his ‘base’. (‘Natural Law’ being fundamental.)

    Second, when Tony was ‘growing up’ (LOL) attacking ‘poofters’ either verbally and/or physically was the ‘thing to do’. It was the ‘common sense’ for a serious Catholic student in those times. Further, it was also ‘common sense’ to regard ‘feminism’ as an ‘aberration’.

    Tony Abbott has a serious and deep seated objection to same sex marriage based on philosophical assumptions in areas such as ‘metaphysics’, ‘epistemology’ and ‘axiology’.

    In short he’s ‘not for the turning’ in his ideal world but he’s is also a serious political pragmatist.

    In many ways he is a very, very bad Catholic at the lived level, in contrast to what he espouses.

  11. Eva

    Re: Matters Not. I agree Abbott is a very bad Catholic and his views against same-sex marriage are deeply entrenched. However when it comes to what he will do to form government, apparently the only thing off the table is ‘selling his arse’. He has flipped and flopped on so many policy positions, I would not put it past him to suddenly allow a free vote on a bipartisan bill, if he thought it would help him win the next election. Unlikely, but a possibility. And I fully expect he would vote against it.

    http://www.news.com.au/national/windsor-calls-out-abbott-youd-do-anything-but-sell-your-arse/story-fndo4eg9-1226452005882

  12. miriamenglish

    I know this sounds perverse, but I hope he digs his heels in and holds firm to prevent same-sex marriage. I would love to see the nasty little prick bite the dust because of it. We can wait another year for same sex marriage. 🙂

  13. Matters Not

    Eva, I agree that he, when desperate, will abandon his ‘principles’ in favour of political survival.

    But his ‘political survival’, in the short and medium terms at least, depends on maintaining support in his own party. His party leadership continues to be on the line. (Stuff the electorate/voters for the moment).

    He survived the last ‘challenge’ because we now know that the ‘religious lobby’, broadly defined, rallied behind him and did so because in their view he was their best hope in rejecting gay marriage.

    In part, at least, that’s a significant part of his base. I doubt very much that his political stocks could be improved by abandoning same. Rather I suspect it would be political suicide.

    But who knows, maybe he has latent ambitions to be a ‘suicide bomber;?

  14. Matters Not

    Maybe our Tone wants to be like Alexander the Great? Doesn’t he, like Alexander the Great, reside in ‘barracks’

    In which case, ‘arse on the line’ takes on any number of new possibilities re the attribution of meaning(s).

  15. Itsazoosue

    Kaye Lee,

    “we have higher priorities”

    Spoken like a person with no impediment to their own nuptuals. Friends of mine, who have been a same-sex couple for thirty years, may disagree. As you said, let’s get it done!

  16. miriamenglish

    Wasn’t Alexander the Great gay?
    Oh… I think that may have been what you were referring to…

  17. juliefarthing

    There will come day, hopefully sooner rather than later, when Tony Abbott’s name will be forgotten and there will be people who never knew a time when this topic was debated, because marriage between two people of any gender will be the norm. This thought is what keeps me going.

  18. Morpheus Being

    Wasn’t it John Howard’s government which changed the marriage from “between two people” to “between a man and a woman”?

    I can’t see what the big deal is about changing it back or changing it to reflect the wishes of the majority of the votes in Australia. I suggest everyone write a letter of will expressing the way they want their representatives to vote.

  19. Peter F

    I find it interesting that Abbott should feel ‘threatened’ by homosexuals. It reminds me of a certain QLD politician who spent much of his time in Parliament attacking child molesters – only to end up imprisoned when found guilty of that which he decried.

  20. miriamenglish

    Yes, whenever there is one of those crazy USA Republicans or fundamentalist preachers foaming at the mouth about gays that person is invariably found at some point paying young attractive men to have sex. I always get a good laugh at that. Maybe that’s the reason Tony Abbott picked an almost entirely male cabinet. He probably thinks males are inherently more talented, more knowledgeable, have more authority, have all those muscles, especially when they’re all oiled up, and feel nice to the touch… (oh god I can’t stop laughing 😀 sorry)

    I love that line pro-gay, pro-women’s rights, and pro-social justice campaigner Joss Whedon wrote in an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” when one of the characters arches his eyebrow at another and says, “You know what homophobia really says about you, don’t you?”

  21. Lee

    “I find it interesting that Abbott should feel ‘threatened’ by homosexuals. It reminds me of a certain QLD politician who spent much of his time in Parliament attacking child molesters – only to end up imprisoned when found guilty of that which he decried.”

    There was a study published earlier this year showing that people who are homophobic are homosexuals or have gay fantasies – confirming what has long been suspected.

  22. Zathras

    What seems to worry most on the Religious Right is that the Church no longer sets or maintains the social order and is becoming irrelevant.

    It’s starting to look like a Book Club or a branch of Rotary full of old white men and out-of-step with modern society’s needs.

    Slavery and witch-burning were once considered acceptable for centuries but they were ended – not because of – but in spite of – traditional religious doctrine and there was probably religious argument against their abolition at the time.

    The concept of Marriage will inevitably go the same way.

  23. Itsazoosue

    I got a laugh from this comments exchange from an article in the Age about Penny Wong:

    “The abuse sure is offensive. I’m sick and tired of being called hypocrite, hater, bigot, homophobic, anti-social, religious extremist, etc. simply because I don’t believe the meaning and definition of the age old institution of marriage should be changed.”
    Commenterzac48 Location Melb. Date and time July 04, 2015, 4:14PM

    “John Howard changed the law in 2004 to the meaning it is today… Please start your next argument.”
    Commentereh Location Date and time July 06, 2015, 8:03AM

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