No one wants to be on the wrong side of history. But without hindsight, it can be difficult to work out which side is right. When British PM Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938 he famously promised ‘peace in our time’. A year later Britain was at war with Nazi Germany.
In much the same way, we are being promised ‘peace in our time’ and ‘the right side of history’ if only same-sex marriage would become law. Nothing much will change, we are assured, except an end to fighting and division. As a Presbyterian minister and former Moderator of the denomination in NSW & ACT, I will be voting No in the plebiscite, unsurprisingly. But it’s actually the non-religious reasons that I find especially compelling, because marriage is something that affects us all.
The purpose of marriage: The argument from natural law is an ancient and profound one. The two genders (although many would now question this) are fundamentally different but also wonderfully complementary. Although, recently, those in marketing over at Royal Dutch Airlines seemed to have completely missed this with their ad featuring buckles and slots.
The rights of children: Marriage ensures that children are not turned into commodities. Historically, the family unit has been the context into which children are, ideally, raised by their own biological mother and father. As such, their identity is profoundly established and formed through an understanding as to where they have come from. Significantly, some of those who have been raised in same sex households, such as Millie Fontana, are often the most vocal opponents of SSM.
The ordering of society: As John Howard argued when he was prime minister, a society is only as strong as the nuclear family. Rather than the state, it is families which provide the basic building blocks of care and support. It is being increasingly acknowledged that the sociological harm of same-sex marriage to the health of the nuclear family is massive.
Freedom of speech: Some of the most vitriolic and even physically violent participants in this debate are the ones pushing for same-sex marriage. Essentially, anyone who doesn’t affirm the new orthodoxy is labelled a bigot and homophobe. Even before the law has been changed, Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous and Presbyterian Pastor Campbell Markham have both been brought before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner for respectfully expressing the orthodox and legal view.
Is ‘love’ really all we need? Just because we love someone doesn’t mean that we should marry them. Marriage, by its very definition is imposing a limit. At least for now, no one in the Australian parliament is arguing for polygamy. But as we have seen overseas, once gay marriage is affirmed then that will be one of the very next issues to be debated.
Discrimination and bigotry: Another highly emotive and even pejorative accusation that is levelled against those wanting to retain the current definition of marriage is that not granting it to them is in itself a homophobic act of discrimination, similar to racism. Legally though, there has been no inequality in Australia since 2009 with homosexual couples enjoying the same protection under the law as heterosexual couples do. In any case, rather than being forbidden, intermarriage with indigenous Australians was often enthusiastically encouraged as an intentional government strategy of both ‘cultural assimilation’ and ‘biological absorption’.
Social engineering: If someone had said just 12 months ago that gay marriage was part of a larger socialist master plan to re-engineer society they would have been derided and ridiculed, but not anymore. With the advent of Safe Schools, intellectual elites such as Roz Ward and her colleagues at La Trobe University, with their radical gender fluid theories, have shown that not even our children are safe.
The ‘slippery slope’: As a logical consequence, same-sex marriage immediately opens the door to all manner of different relationships such as polyamory and surrogacy. If the ethical framework for deciding who can and who cannot be married is only ‘love and consent’ then who’s to say where the end will be. For instance, if a parent and a child are sexually attracted to one another (i.e. ‘genetic sexual attraction’), why is that wrong?
Disagreement within the LGBTIQ community: One of the more surprising aspects has been the numerous homosexual people themselves who have come out and stated publicly their opposition to gay marriage. Take Messrs Dolce and Gabbana. Or Irish columnist Paddy Manning. This is by no means the ‘great universal injustice’ that many claim needs to be addressed. A sizable proportion of the LGBTIQ community see the institution of marriage as being inherently incompatible with their own particular lifestyle due to their contention that the act of marriage is inherently heteronormative.
Domestic violence: A much neglected, and incredibly tragic aspect to this whole debate is the alarming rates of physical, sexual, psychological, financial and emotional abuse that occur within LBGTIQ relationships. Even those within that particular community acknowledge that their incidences are at least double that of those who have ‘a history of only opposite-sex cohabitation’. According to the Australian government’s own website, ‘41 per cent of male-identifying respondents, and 28 per cent of female-identifying respondents had experienced physical violence within a same-sex intimate relationship.’ The report also further acknowledges in the conclusion that there is significant under-reporting due to four reasons: ‘The desire not to draw negative attention to LGBTIQ communities; the risk of survivors being alienated within LGBTIQ communities; the belief that their experience will not be taken seriously by police; and the belief that they will be discriminated against by police.’
None of these reasons are conclusive in and of themselves. However, taken together they form a compelling argument as to why Australians should not rush to change a revered and proven social institution that has stood the test of time. Marriage between people of the same gender has never enjoyed widespread acceptance for many non-religious reasons. Voting to retain the status quo should not be labelled as bigoted or homophobic, but viewed as a legitimate position to take based on biology, children, and just plain common sense, lest we end up on the wrong side of history.
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