The federal Marriage Act Sect 46(1) always required celebrants to provide a definition of marriage as part of the ceremony. The wording required is “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life“, or “words to that effect” (Source)
The percentage of the Australian population who self-identify as gay or lesbian is uncertain, but is probably in the range of 4-6%.
This month Australians were given the opportunity to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage (‘SSM’) in Australia via a postal survey. The postal survey asked a single question that question could only be answered with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. The question was “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”.
I voted ‘no’, and no, it’s not because I am hateful or homophobic. Does that make me a hypocrite or a liar? No it doesn’t, and I think it’s simplistic to the point of childishness for anyone to suggest otherwise.
My primary concern is in relation to the process, including the troubling precedent it sets for future political and legal ‘reform’. As the campaign has unfolded I have also become deeply concerned about the behaviour of the media and elements of the ‘Yes’ bloc. On this latter note, see for example this article by Miranda Devine about assaults at Sydney University, the assault on Tony Abbott MP, and the young employee sacked for holding views that differed from those of her employer.
The linked video clips show separate incidents where ‘yes’ voters aggressively harangue people holding ‘It’s OK to vote no’ signs (example 1/example 2/ example 3). Just as with Trump/Clinton supporters in USA, it’s not the conservatives (typically labelled ‘far right’) who are behaving aggressively.
And now we’re told that ‘no’ voters can’t help it because they’re too stupid.
Some readers will be asking “How is this a men’s issue?“. No doubt there are gay men who would appreciate having the option to marry in preference to the alternatives already available to them. I mean them no disrespect. I was motivated to write this post mainly due to the parallels with how the broader gender debate is playing out, recognising this to be a major obstacle to achieving recognition of men’s issues and true gender equality.
The SSM postal vote is far from being a worthy model of the way to create legislation or govern the country. Our politicians must be told this in very clear and unambiguous terms.
At an estimated cost of $122 million it is also an incredibly wasteful exercise. The propensity of our state and federal government to convene Royal Commissions or Inquiries in order to delay or avoid making difficult decisions is a long-standing embarrassment, but compared to the SSM vote they are a bargain.
Further, the SSM vote is almost certain to be ineffective, not least because either the government and/or the ‘yes’ lobby or ‘no’ lobby will not accept the result. In particular, you can bet your bottom dollar that if the ‘no’ vote gets up on the day, then we are set to witness a replay of the Hillary Clinton loss all over again.
As others have already suggested, the process might have had some shred of validity if the government had circulated draft legislation, together with a summary of arguments for and against specific proposed changes. According to Peter Dutton MP and Treasurer Scott Morrison this was a decision of Cabinet.
A draft bill was prepared some time ago, but I understand that no commitment has been made that this version will be put up for parliamentary vote should the ‘yes’ vote prevail.
The voting paper asks “Should the law be changed …?” What will an answer to a question this vague tell our politicians that they could not judge for themselves in the context of a parliamentary vote?
So exactly how will the primary enabling legislation (the Marriage Act) be changed? What other legislation and regulations will subsequently need to be amended, and in what manner? What will be the likely tangible flow-on effect of these changes for ordinary Australians, for example in terms of financial costs/benefits?
If this were about a major infrastructure project then all relevant facts (or at least, estimates) would be set out for objective consideration. Instead the scope of discussion in relation to same-sex marriage has been, for the most part, remarkably narrow. Alternately tugging on heart strings/shaming those with alternative views, or dishing out some bible quotes, does not constitute an intelligent political debate.
Why so little discussion, for example, of what has happened in those countries that have approved SSM? (see here for discussion of the UK example, with related comments by Rowan Dean here)
Along with an abundance of predictable and sometimes shrill PC frou-frou, a few thoughtful pieces have appeared in the media. One example is ‘Liberals find scant refuge in a surrender to identity politics‘ by Greg Sheridan.
“The destructiveness of identity politics is that it poisons relations between human beings by claiming that historic injustices require civic inequalities to remedy them today. This requires that some groups be classified as victims and others as villains”
Parliament of Australia briefing paper on Same Sex Marriage (undated)
Howard rejects PM’s vow on religious freedom (29 September 2017) A copy of John Howard’s full page newspaper advert is provided below
The failure of ‘Yes’ to control its militant wing (27 September 2017)
Same sex marriage in Australia – why I have to vote ‘No’ (26 September 2017) Video
The definitive guide to the gay marriage debate (21 September 2017)
“Because part of this strategy is to provoke an equally irrational response from the Yes campaign”. Joe, wake up to yourself mate! No-one is manipulating the ‘Yes’ bloc into performing their special brand of craziness. No-one needs to – it’s what people in this sociopolitical milieu do now. And not just with this issue, but many others. For a recent Australian example just look at my post regarding the ‘Red Pill’ movie.
Same-sex marriage: Yes, but spare the virtue-signalling (19 September 2017)
‘It’s not okay to be homophobic’: Canberra contractor sacked for ‘vote no’ Facebook post (19 September 2017) What is happening to our country when people feel justified in jettisoning our open and democratic way of life in their quest to virtue-signal and shame.
Gay audience member shuts down MP’s argument against same-sex marriage (19 September 2017)
On the issue of conflating the right to marry with other issues, which Mr Lau had also raised, Ms Wong said conflating issues was a tactic of the “No” campaign. “The ‘No’ campaign is finding every other issue to talk about,” she said. “It’s a deliberate scare campaign, and I think it’s a tactic Australians are seeing through. And it’s a disappointing tactic.”
Leftists/feminists have no problem with conflating issues when it suits – the most common being the feminists=women furphy. In this case what Penny is really railing against is that other related issues might be considered, issues outside of the narrow parameters for debate approved by people such as herself.
Sure some of these factors will be over-reach or downright wrong. Most however will be legitimate and deserving of serious consideration in reaching an informed decision on this particular matter. And the many others that will follow.