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Over at 2 Blog or not 2 Blog, Mick’s written recently about the proposed legislation to allow homosexual ‘civil unions’. And he wrote this the same day I had an extensive debate on email with Sioneld about this proposal. THEN, I watched the latest episode of The West Wing that I’d downloaded (S02, Ep07 The Portland Trip) which covered the topic of gay marriage as well. So it’s been everywhere in my world in the last few days.
Despite being a card-carrying member of the party that has introduced this change, I remain unconvinced. Not because I’m anti the idea. But I’ve been asking those I’ve discussed it with whether the change should be supported. Up to now, I’m yet to get a decent explanation why.
In discussion with Sioneld, the topic became about whether gay couples are discriminated against. And since the legislative changes are giving them a status that is similar, but not the same as, the straight community then the law fails. After all, if you’re stopping discrimination by discriminating, that’s just hypocritical (not to mention silly).
Sioneld then justified this discrimination on the basis that the wider community wouldn’t accept the non-discriminating position (gay marriage). But if the community wouldn’t accept it, then the reformers should be setting about changing the public’s position, rather than replacing one grade of discrimination for another. Introducing a law that isn’t supported by the community is bad public policy. One should win the hearts and minds campaign first.
I also think that introducing a law in one small part of the country that will not be recognised in the other 99.5% of the country is not only silly, but it’s bad law.

I put the challenge out to those who say this change is a good thing – show me why it’s good. Show me a need. Show me how this legislation will fix the need. If your argument comes down to “the need is obvious” you’ve lost the debate. If “the need is obvious”, then I wouldn’t be asking the question. If “the need is obvious”, it’ll be a piece of piss for you to demonstrate it. So go on.

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6 Comments

  1. Ok Aurelius, here it is.

    Gay civil unions are the first step that is required to:

    a) get people used to the idea that homosexual couples have just as much right to marry as anyone.
    b) give same-sex couples equal legal rights (ie. Super, Pensions, Govt. Benefits)
    c) allow same-sex couples to have a ceremony, sign some paperwork and in effect, marry.

    The gay marriage debate has been around for a while, but it’s still going to take more time before a progressive government and an aging public get the balls to actually remove the line ‘between a man and a woman’ from the Marriage Act.

    So baby steps are needed. And I commend the ACT’s vision at starting the ball rolling. I totally agree that there will still remain discrimination if ACT gets these laws past, but it is a lot lot less than what exists now.

    We need to head in the right direction, and the Howard Government was perpetuating an anti-gay stigma that still exists in the country. (along with the many other stigmas he perpetuated)

    And who says the law isn’t supported by the community? Has anyone asked the community if they’d like to allow Australians to marry? No. I haven’t seen a referendum. Unfortunately though, I still think there are too many people living in yesterdays world in Australia that would be against gay marriages, so yes, it will still take more time.

    By 2020 I will bet that they are legal Australia wide.

    Or this world will have overheated to the extent that we all die.

    Either way.

  2. Mick, I’m yet to be convinced that replacing something that is discriminatory with something else discriminatory is a good thing. But the crux of my… I can’t call it ‘opposition’, let’s call it ‘indifference’ is that if the move is to succeed, if real equality is desirable, then the battle must be fought in the hearts and minds of the community, not in the corridors of power.
    There are few people I despise more in national politics than the recently departed Member for Bennelong, but when he had a proposition noone liked (for example the GST) he knew that numbers in parliament meant nothing if he didn’t first sell it to the community and reach a level of acceptance.
    By contrast, when he introduced industrial relations legislation by dint of having the numbers and the jurisdiction, rather than having community acceptance, he found that had a less-desirable outcome.

    As it turns out, the national government has rejected the change proposed by Mayor Nero and Simon (in the news in the last 48 hours) so it wont get up.
    Although, on principle, I think the idea of one government overruling another democratically elected government is to be frowned upon.

  3. Large goals are made up by achieving smaller goals. In this case, the “large goal” of an non-discriminatory marriage act will only be achieved by smaller goals – in this case an act which allows the community to realise that gay people being “officially united” does not in any way alter their conception of what marriage means.

    If you really don’t understand the concept that, even in law, small steps are often needed, then I despair of ever making you understand why this is so important, especially to the gay community.

  4. Being a West Wing junkie, I watched that episode myself on the weekend. “If you gun control people all joined the NRA and called a vote….BAM!…no more guns…” 🙂

    I agree with Mick’s argument. Any change takes small steps in order to allow the issue to permeate into the general public’s thought processes….much as a habitual gambler or drug addict in many cases doesn’t simply dive into their addiction, it’s usually a gradual process of gradated reasoning….”it’s only $5….it’s only $50….” and on and on….I believe the human mind works in a way by which things that may at first appear unacceptable or immoral are slowly accepted through the fading of the line in the sand and time to digest the associated moral stretch….like former enemies in a war coming to respect each-other as they come to understand the bigger picture and appreciate the narrow scope with which they previously viewed the situation. Another good example is the pathology of serial killers who often slowly progress from hurting little animals and misdemeanours to slaughtering humans.

    I can understand your argument about the sell-off involved in taking dolly-steps, but IMHO, people need time to gradually consider the issues associated and accept change in small increments. Segregation in the US wasn’t abolished overnight -and it can be argued that it still has not been- but it was gradual with school-yard integration, the right to vote, integration in the armed forces, mixed marriages etc. etc.

    In my grandparents’ day, a mixed marriage was between a black and a white person. In my parent’s day, a mixed marriage was between a catholic and a protestant. Today, a mixed marriage is two parents with kids who have differing genomic donors (ie: step-parents, half-brothers/sisters, adoptees etc.)….it seems ironic that throughout all this time, the concept of same-sex marriages has remained a no-go zone politically.

    If you think that small steps are useless, then I would ask you to consider the fact that homosexuality itself was against the law into the 80’s and it took many small steps by many small people to bring us to the point today whereby we are arguing about marriage and it’s associated rights rather than whether or not to put people in goal…is that not progress?

    I agree that politicians need to sell the idea and the Labor party in particular should be about selling a vision rather than selling out to the mediocre selfish isolationism that people have come to caccoon themselves in over the years.

    I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my father recently when he said “I don’t understand how all these politicians could have overlooked climate change and water shortages and left it until now to care.”

    I replied “Dad, I was ranting about that stuff ten years ago and YOU thought I was a tree-hugging wanker with my head in the clouds. It was you and your ilk who kept electing the politicians based on selfish short-term gratification, which they were more than willing to market to.”

    It’s taken decades for the environmental movement to gain traction, but like any idea (or any human being)…it needed time to gestate, grow and mature in the minds of people who already had too much other crap seeping into their brains to bother caring about.

    Apologies for the rant and deplorable speling/punctuation….have had a few Carlton’s 🙂

    Paul Kelly sums up my argument most poigniantly:

    “From little things, big things grow…”

  5. yEP – Replacing a discriminatory law with one that is less discriminatory is a good thing.

    One more reason it is needed is so that gay couples can visit each other in intensive care units and the like, when it is next-of-kin only, and currently they are locked out.

  6. How can you argue with a quote from Paul Kelly…..


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