You know, with the exception of scientific laws, every time I hear someone say the above, I know that I have ever just heard or am about to hear, something that is complete bollocks.
So today the Australian Labour Party voted in favour of “gay” marriage (from here on in referred to as equal marriage). The ALP national platform now supports equal marriage, though sadly the conscience vote still holds. I don’t understand how elected representatives are allowed to vote with their conscience and not with the will of their electorate, clearly that’s just me (and several million other Australians).
But back to the quote in the title of this post. It’s from Mr de Bruyn, the national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and printed in The Age. The full quote was published as:
“This issue is the one we should decide with our heads, not on the basis of emotion,” he said.
“Let’s look at some principles, the definition of marriage as set out in the legislation is that it is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life.
“It has always been that way since the dawn of humanity.”
Mr de Bruyn said there was no real argument to change the meaning of the word marriage.
“There have been appeals to equality, but that does not address the real issue, the real issue that you need to argue convincingly for changing the meaning of marriage, that has not been done,” he said.
Now I consider it to be a rather funny thing, that Mr de Bruyn, head of the most right-wing quasi-union in Australia, even allies his quasi-union with the ALP, but that aside let’s sift through the commentary and critique it all the way through.
Yes, this is an issue which should be decided with heads and not on the basis of emotion. I would suggest to Mr de Bruyn (if I ever met him) that homo/biphobia is an emotional response, a reaction to fear or threat, and that to decide this issue without emotion (although completely impossible) is one where equal marriage will be granted – because if you remove fear and negative emotions from the decision, then why wouldn’t you grant equal rights to others? Why would you keep a section of society apart and less equal than everyone else. A “rational” (only in quotes because rationality is so rarely defined) decision would surely be in what is the best interests of the individuals concerned, and the State. As the State will not be impacted by equal marriage (except that it makes inheritance and custody issues clearer), and the individuals who want the rights do not reduce the rights of anyone else by having those rights, and will benefit from having these rights – surely this is a no-brainer.
The definition of what marriage is has changed markedly over the past 5000 years. In the West women are no longer property, women are now partners versus powerless participants, couples can typically choose to get married without their parent’s permission or arrangement of the marriage, children are no longer married, etc. To say that “…the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life…[is the way things have been] since the dawn of humanity” demonstrates that Mr de Bruyn doesn’t have a firm grasp on history. That he doesn’t understand what marriage is, what it has been, and what it can be.
Mr de Bruyn then says that there is no convincing argument for changing the meaning of marriage – though the fact that marriage has and will continue to change over the millennia is proof enough that marriage has changed meaning.
It is becoming increasingly evident that dinosaurs like Mr de Bruyn need to evolve and catch up with the rest of society. With the majority of Australians, and widespread support across Christian Australia, for equal marriage, it’s time that our democratic institutions got with the time, started representing the wishes of their electorate. It’s time to be brave, if required, and vote for the rights of others to be recognised. It’s time to discard the fear of “teh gay” and to start seeing that members of the GLBTIQ community as people who deserve the same rights as everyone else, even if they are a little bit different. It’s beyond time to give the same rights that the majority of the population enjoys to those who don’t currently enjoy them.