Marriage Equality – again

So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No.  The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).

Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion.  Over 5 hours.

I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS.  That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still).  An issue that is capturing the world’s attention.  An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world.  A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.

Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal.  The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon

I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me.  I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.

Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently.  This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense.  Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.

She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.

The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.

A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.

Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y.  I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths.  Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality.  She claims that:

She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.

Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.

She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.

Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.

The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.

The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks.  I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality.  Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.

I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you.  From a report in The Age in July 2015:

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

And if you want something a little more recent than July this year, from Australian Marriage Equality (August 2015):

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.

The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.

59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.

So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.

Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots).  I’m positive that this is not the case.

Kevin Donnelly

I’ve blogged about Donnelly before, he has a track record of being racist, and now he’s adding homophobic to the list.  I haven’t even read the article, I didn’t need to after seeing this headline, “Abbott made the right call on same-sex marriage“.

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.

Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.

Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people.  It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us.  The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.

Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them.  Let’s work on the first one.  Women only gyms.  Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around.  Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women.  When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.

Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.

Children and pornography.  I don’t even with this one Donnelly.  We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes.  It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography.  I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.

Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.

Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:

First image – three people are standing on boxes looking over a fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest and second tallest can see over the fence. The shortest cannot. Second image – Three people are watching a baseball game over a fence. The tallest can see over the fence. The second tallest is standing on one box to see over the fence. The shortest is standing on two boxes to see over the fence.

This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others.  Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.

Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.

Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful.  Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage.  If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.

I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time.  “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.”  I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.

As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.”  Donnelly continues:

When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.

From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.

Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument.  If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children.  Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents.  Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people.  He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.

Michael Jensen

This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.

It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one.  It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt.  On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally.  It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.

Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things?  Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served?  Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality?  The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other.  That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality.  There we go, I solved that one for you.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end.  Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time.  Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage.  Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t.  It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.

If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.

Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality.  If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that?  Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex?  Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going?  Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?

There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality.  Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better.  It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction.  It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war.  It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.

Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want.  Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents.  Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by.  It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can.  Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.

 

 

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