For all the advancement we have made in a 2011 Australian society it seems strange that marriage equality remains a debate we need to have at a national level. The ruling ALP will go to their national convention with the issue a major talking point and I can only help but feel it is not the message that is the problem, but the way it’s been delivered.
For decades the LGBT community have rightly pointed out that their rights have been infringed. Across many areas of law they have been treated as lesser citizens and as couples denied rights available to everyone else. Now comes one of the final hurdles, the right to marry just the same way as a heterosexual couple. But we all know the issue, the arguments and that it’s absurd in this day and age a citizen of a “first world country” is still discriminated against based on their sexuality.
So perhaps the message is just not being tailored in a way that makes sense to those who oppose. While we should never have to convince persecutors of basic human rights, the reality of the real world is that we do. Given that most of those who oppose marriage equality do so on the basis of religion it is time some of the argument was tailored to meet their needs. And what exactly is religions problem with same-sex marriage? Is it that some weddings might no longer be conducted in the Church, Temple or Mosque? No, that ship has long since sailed with people choosing all manner of wedding locations and celebrants. The real problem you ask? They are worried it just might encourage more people to have sex in the naughty place. And no I don’t mean parked in some dark lane on the rear seat of mum’s car.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the way we have used sodomy laws to effectively outlaw much of sexual activity between gay men. Currently the age of consent is 2 years higher for anal sex in Queensland and it was outlawed entirely in Tasmania until 1997. Many countries that actively persecute the LGBT community do so not by outlawing anything but the acts of sodomy or “adultery” for women, which in many cases by the way includes making being raped a crime. If you really “have” to be gay they’d rather you just abstain and live a miserable life. Is that the sort of thing we wish to sign up to, aligning ourselves morally with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Al-Shabab controlled parts of Somalia? Of course this all goes back to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which God apparently destroyed because the folk there were doing it, sodomy that is. You see in 2011 Australia the only kind of discrimination we really advocate and embrace is the religious based kind or against the first Australians. Forget that Jesus himself never uttered a word about homosexuality, but a religious organisation with its tax exempt status can call you every name under the sun and lobby politicians, often with great success against common sense.
If the ALP Government fail to pass Marriage Equality legislation then the LGBT community need to become a religion. Cloaked behind that religious veil you can practice and preach almost anything you like. Evangelical pastor Danny Nalliah preached that the Victorian bushfires were caused by the states abortion laws and the Queensland floods were a result of questioning Israel on Human Rights. Say that as any ordinary citizen and you better run for the hills, say it with religious tax exemption and you can print flyers with it on to raise money and increase your following. What about Scientology with accusations of abuse, slavery and cult like behaviour you’d think the Government would pull their support via tax exemption, but no “75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling DC-8” and while you can’t marry the person you love they can raise money to preach that without paying a cent in tax on the profits.
But it is unlikely that Pastor Danny or Tom Cruise will make an appearance at the ALP convention, the push back (excuse the pun) will come from the right-wing of the ALP. Perhaps before entering the conference they need to be reminded that the ALP is supposed to be a left of centre party of the working class. But for many in that faction their direction will come from their belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Given the scandals involving the church in the last few decades you’d think they’d avoid issues of “sexual deviancy” as they see it. The same might be said of politicians who themselves have been caught up in rape trials, spousal abuse and corruption. But no, along with the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) they are the chief opponents of Marriage Equality. Visit the ACL website and you will find they are running three campaigns. Tackling poverty perhaps, supporting Asylum Seekers, feeding the homeless? No, the far more pressing issues to them are Gay marriage, Gay Adoption and Prostitution. What did I say about the naughty place! Much of the Christian model on such things is broken anyway. A study of US teenagers who took part in a Christian run Abstinence program found that while some did abstain, compared to their class mates who didn’t take the pledge, “abstainers” were 6 times more likely to perform oral sex and 4 times more likely…, anal!
To get the issue passed Gay men need to form a Nunnery of Two! It is the only way to send a message the ACL and others will understand. Anal Sex is no longer sodomy, it is a religious duty performed by two followers of the new religion. They may not agree with it, but they will support your right to perform it. Take Holy Communion, you eat the wafer to represent the Body of Christ and drink the wine to symbolise his blood. Now outside of an organised religion this may appear to be some kind of build up to Canabalism, but inside the Church it’s an important part of remembering Christ. And good luck to them, they aren’t hurting anyone, it brings them closer to their God and is important to them. But just as I would defend their right to perform such an act I cannot look the other way while they involve themselves with the denying rights to another.
This is not an attack on religion, this is an attempt to explain just how absurd it is that in 2011 two adults who love each other cannot stand in front of their friends and family and promise to spend the rest of their lives together. Shot gun weddings, Child brides and Kim Kardashian devalue marriage. Two folks in dresses holding hands at the altar is just another day at a Scottish Wedding. Whether that be two men, two women or a man and woman should only depend on them both being consenting adults. The rest is no business of the Government, the Church or Xenu from out of space.
So why as a heterosexual male do I care when might rights are firmly intact? Because as a human rights advocate it is my job to ensure you get that right and I don’t want to live in a country that allows me to do things my friends can’t just because of who they are. Marriage equality is about the right to love, it really is that simple! The ALP and all parties must vote not just with their conscience, but with rights and respect for all in their minds. The naughty place is not sodomy, the naughty place is a parliament that continues to discriminate!
“Well known radical feminist” was the description delivered at a rally against Same Sex Marriage in Canberra this week.
But who was this radical feminist they were speaking of, Germaine Greer? Maybe Eva Cox, although personally I don’t find her that radical. No the target of the comment was Finance Minister Penny Wong; Che Guevera in a Pant-Suit she is not! A more bland centrist you could not find, she is common sense with a clever hair cut. But Senator Wong is exactly the kind of “evil” this crowd was rallying against. The hatred is also directed at people like Dr Kerryn Phelps, former head of the AMA and recipient of the Centenary Medal for services to Health and Medicine. Also a Member of the Order of Australia, a mum of two children and her partner is woman. Would the world really end if they were allowed to tie the knot under Australian law? I think not!
Keynote speaker, Rebecca Hagelin from the conservative US Heritage Foundation told the audience, if you allowed gay marriage, “anything” such as polygamy and marriage between paedophiles and children ”could be called marriage”. I have many problems with this statement, it is simply false to begin with, it equates the union between two adults with that of sex crimes and in doing so undermines the suffering of all those, including LGBT people, who have been the victims of paedophiles and it comes from an American, whose organisation lobbied for the war in Iraq, calls Maggie Thatcher a hero and has links to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The think tank was also responsible for the “Contract with America” taken on board by US republicans in the 1990’s that resulted in much of the deregulation that caused the Global Financial Crisis.
Of course it wasn’t just an “intellectual” rally, others like Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce, were eager to point out it isn’t just Gay marriage he has a problem with. “If someone wanted to introduce legislation calling ‘camels’ ‘horses’” that would be equally as ridiculous.” Never to be out done when it comes to statements of brilliance MP Bob Katter offered up. “Gay is one of the most beautiful words…no-one should have the right to take that word off us.” Bob, nobody is trying to take gay away from you, in fact they want you to be able to express “gay” in a way you feel comfortable and that is recognised by the law. In the past you have also expressed alarm at having laws taking away your right to “go horse riding”, “catch a fish for dinner”, “light a campfire” and “boil a billy”. Change boil to another word Bob and your lifestyle starts to sound a little Brokeback Mountain. Which is fine Bob, as I said, nobody is trying to take “gay” away from you, whatever boils your billy!
Meanwhile outside on the lawns of our Parliament House, the temperature was rising faster than Bob’s campfire. Well in actual fact the people at this particular rally contest that any temperature rise is caused by them or any humans, but something was making them awful hot under the collar. Angry Anderson took to the stage telling the Anti Carbon Tax rally to “maintain the rage” and muttered something about a higher power, while fresh from their gay ole time inside the building Katter and Joyce raged against “socialism” and got all Advance Australia Fair to the great joy of the audience. Much like inside it was left to others to offer up the intellectual side to the debate. “I can see a lot of people that I agree a very great deal with. I can see some people that I probably don’t agree with on everything,” opened Tony Abbott. Not quite JFK or FDR, but I think there is a real gem in there somewhere Tony. And of course the banners and placards were back, “JU-Liar” “Bob Brown’s Bitch” and what’s a patriotic rally without fitting out a picture of your Prime Minister in a Nazi uniform.
What was clear from both rallies was that older people will get out and have their say. And what are 60 somethings worried about in Australia, pension rates, hospital beds, golf course accessability? No, what gets these folks off the lazy boy recliner, throwing the Women’s Weekly at the floor in disgust and raising a “Ditch and Witch” banner, are a few Gay folks wanting to walk down the aisle and a policy designed to protect the environment.
Conservatives find the whole idea of conservation nearly as disgusting as they do two adults just asking for a “fair go”. Of course by the time we have actually crawelled our way into the 21st century and legalised Gay marriage for their Lesbian grand daughter and face the real impact of climate change these folk will be sleeping the eternal sleep and their only legacy will be a shift in the Australian political debate.
A shift that takes us closer to the US style “tea party” movement and the grubby politics it leaves behind. Where calling your Prime Minister Hitler, a bitch and a witch is how you get your view across and vilifying people you do not know nor understand is accepted, even inside the walls of the peoples Parliament. The attendees of both rallies will neither pay the carbon tax (I didn’t see Twiggy Forrest in attendance) nor be compelled to marry anyone Gay. But they attack both as if their very life depended on it and one can only think the media has very badly informed these people, some politicians have lied and our ability to communicate intelligently lost to an angry mob.
If you are a wedding crasher or a carbon kook it’s time to put country first, do a little reading and leave the Nazi accusations for the only people who deserve them…, Nazi’s!
Yesterday thousands of people rallied around Australia in support of equality. Not asking for anything others don’t have, not asking for special privileges, just the right to be treated like everyone else. Our politician’s still say no!
For some reason the debate in Australia over Gay marriage still rages. I say for some reason because there seems to be no logical political or social reason as to why two adult Australian’s cannot get married if that is their wish. Who is adversely impacted by Gay and Lesbian couples being allowed to marry? An answer is rarely offered up and usually advocates for the status quo simply state they don’t see the need for change. Which if we followed to its logical conclusion means they also didn’t see the need to change civil rights that discriminated against people based on race, gender or disability. Should slavery have remained the status quo because no politicians were Black? Should Aboriginal people still not be given the vote or counted in the census because at the time no politicians were Aboriginal and therefore they personally were not impacted? Of course not, but then following her logic Prime Minister Gillard would support women not having the vote or be eligible for elected office, because that too was once the status quo.
When an answer to the original question does come there are usually two lines.
1. “Think of the children”. Well yes, let us think of the children! Shouldn’t children know from an early age that they live in a nation that treats all its citizens equally? And let us be honest, a very large number of Australian children are raised in less that ideal circumstances. But what is wrong with two people in a committed relationship who want to care for a child and raise them the best they can? Isn’t that what we need as a society, more people so committed to parenting that they will jump through hoops to get the chance to do it?! Children respond to love, care, affection, education and a safe environment. We help protect their rights when we protect the rights of their parents no matter who they are.
2. Many politicians and public figures will claim Gay and Lesbian marriage is against their religion. Well maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. But their religion is not what they were elected to parliament to represent. They were elected to represent their electorate and their isn’t one in Australia that doesn’t have a large LGBT community. Polls also show that the majority of Australian’s support same sex marriage, international law makes the equal treatment of all a requirement and common sense tells us it just makes sense. Your religion is your own personal right, just as it is the right of all Australian’s to express their love for their partner in a union of marriage.
Sarah Palin is against Gay Marriage, so to is Fred Nile, Bin Laden was against Gay Marriage and George W. Bush too. Is that really the sort of ideological company you want to keep? Your marriage or your relationship with god is not altered in any way by two adults of the same sex getting married. Given how we view past generations that refused to grant rights to women, people of colour, the disabled and the lower classes. How will our children view us in the future if we maintain the status quo of denying a fundamental right?
Marriage has evolved for centuries, the idea that it’s an unchanged institution is simply the view of rose coloured glasses of a few that are entirely blacked out. In ancient times marriage was a union simply of two people with no formal ceremony or approval of the state required. There were great periods of time when marriage was between one man and many women, a time where marriage was between a man and a female child and a time when a white man could not marry anyone but a white women. All these things have changed, with the exception of some countries whose human rights record with rightly slam. Now is the time to remove the final obstacle that simply allows two adults to be given the same legal rights as the rest of us.
The short version – Don’t like Gay Marriage? Then don’t marry a Gay man!