Flat White

I support same-sex marriage, so I’m not voting in the plebiscite

21 September 2017

7:23 AM

21 September 2017

7:23 AM

I am a supporter of same-sex marriage. When viewed from a libertarian perspective there’s little question in it. In fact, if it weren’t for the religious aspect, the case for same-sex marriage might have been largely adopted by the right, and the far-left would still be calling the idea of marriage an “outdated institution … deeply rooted in patriarchy and gender inequality“. I’m not particularly big on the idea of marriage, but I am a proponent of commitment, and for some, marriage is a sign of such commitment. If you have trust, honesty and commitment then marriage is but a formality.

“Why not?” is my usual response to the question, and I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory opposing argument. That is not to say that opposing arguments are invalid or wrong simply because I disagree with them. On the contrary, I consider them carefully because I disagree with them. The most important topic surrounding same-sex marriage, and the only one that makes me hesitate in my view, is that of children.

Advocates of the “traditional” definition of marriage maintain, “The ideal circumstances for a child growing up … is to have a mum and a dad who play a complementary role in the raising of that child.” And I don’t disagree that it would be ideal for a child to grow up with two loving parents at home, with both a male and female role model. But I don’t like dealing with ideals.

Though “happily married biological parents” is the case for most children (depending on how you choose to define ‘happily married’). I do think having one loving, single parent is often better than having, for example, one loving parent ‘happily married’ to their unloving, bordering on evil, other parent.

Two loving people raising a child are undoubtedly better than one, two, or three unloving people. As for role models, research has shown that children benefit from having both male and female role models; which if not at home (again, the ideal), they can find at school or with family members.

I do believe this is an important debate to have, but I am not satisfied that it is entirely relevant to the same-sex marriage debate – I return to my earlier point; if there is trust, honesty and commitment in any family structure, then marriage is a secondary issue.

Though I am not swayed by any of the arguments against same-sex marriage I do not agree with all the arguments for it.

Same-sex marriage is not about human rights, nor is it simply “between two people.”

Human rights are “fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being”. Marriage is a social construct, a contract entered into with society for reasons that differ across cultures. If it were just between two people then there’s no debate here, go and get “married”, why get the government involved at all?

There has been foulness on both sides, provoked in many cases by the politicians themselves; but the homophobic slurs and hate of the “No” side have been greatly outweighed by the mainstreamed bigotry of those supporting it.

From the overwhelming advocacy of the taxpayer-funded national broadcasters and their stifling of debate, to the silencing of dissenters through no-platforming, emotional blackmail, and violence.

This is not acceptable in a free and democratic society. The debate should be had publicly in a civil manner with both sides heard and considered, without the shouting down, labelling and shaming of those we disagree with.

Such hate and vitriol has put many people off voting for same-sex marriage, having given the impression that this sort of social discourse is part of what we’ll be voting for. But I caution that a question or topic such as this should be considered based on its own meaning, value and consequences, and not by the behaviour of its proponents or detractors.

If the upcoming plebiscite was a vote to remove the provision ‘a man and a woman’ from the marriage act, I would undoubtedly vote ‘YES’. But, alas, it is not that simple.

It is a shame, but this debate has been laced with identity politics and conflated with social Marxism. Hence “marriage equality”, as if such a thing exists.

Terms such as “fairness” and “equality” sound good, but in their modern context are idealistic, unrealistic, and counter-productive. The vast differences between “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcome” are important and, along with encroachments on free speech and the gradual introduction of a new social morality, form the main fracture between the two sides of the so-called “culture wars”.

Then there’s the often cited, and blatant examples of the “Safe Schools” and “Respectful Relationships” programs which contain content that should remain the prerogative of parents, or at least given with their full knowledge and consent. I believe the people who have introduced such programs know it – which is why they’ve been brought in under the guise of “anti-bullying” and “tackling family violence”. These programs are heavily politicised, open to abuse, and have no place in the public education system, whether you agree with them or not.

The politicians leading the push for same-sex marriage have done nothing to separate these conflicting issues – on the contrary, they themselves conflate it with the broader agenda of “equality”, spewing vile rhetoric as they do so. Until it is provided that a vote for same-sex marriage is just that, I cannot support it.

So, I will not be voting in the upcoming plebiscite.

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