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Marriage equality task easier with likes of Cory around

Same-sex marriage advocates are extremely lucky that their opponents are as utterly obsessive and neurotic as their American counterparts. Cory Bernardi helps the cause.

The UK is in uproar as Australian Senator Cory Bernardi arrives in the country. There’s been protests at the airports, and the streets have been blocked with barricades of burning tyres to greet the now-notorious senator who has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.

Actually, not, you’ll be surprised to hear. There’s been a small story in The Grauniad, one in The Torygraph, and the Conservative party has issued a statement repudiating Bernardi’s comments about man-love and horse-love, but that’s been about it.

From what I can see in the Australian press, it’s another case of bigging up absolutely any attention paid to anything Australian by the world. Bernardi himself is on the way to the “European Young Conservatives Freedom Summit” in Oxford, a one-day shindig by a hard-right pressure group within the Tory party, descendants of the notorious Young Conservatives of the 1980s, who thrilled the world with their “Hang Nelson Mandela” T-shirts.

That Bernardi got the axe for comparing same-sex marriage to the beautiful moments between a farm boy and his heifer appears to have surprised Bernardi, but not only him — the comparison has been floated by the Right for so long, as to be part of the political furniture.

In the US, Rick Santorum nailed his colours to the mast (why does that phrase sound dirty, when said about Santorum?) with it, and it didn’t seem to do him any harm. Bernardi, who runs a neat little import business in culture-war beat-ups — his first effort was a ban-the-burqa move — has clearly been hoping that he could extend these obsessive overseas themes into Australian politics, to his advantage. It’s the tactic John Howard adopted in 1994, becoming the hammer of that new-fangled notion “political correctness”, as a way to carve a path to the leadership. Bernardi’s strategy is failing only because the country has been taken so far to the Right that there’s very little room to go further.

Bernardi’s strategy is failing only because the country has been taken so far to the Right there’s little room to go further.”

That only goes so far as an explanation of course. Same-sex marriage advocates are extremely lucky their opponents are as utterly obsessive and neurotic as their American counterparts. Yet in facing up to such lunacies they have also allowed themselves to become complacent about the fight they face for full legalisation — hiding in that self-justifying and essentially circular expression “marriage equality”. “Marriage equality” only works as an argument if you already believe in it. If, as a conservative, you believe that marriage is an institution that is incommensurable by its very nature, then you’re unlikely to be convinced.

The fact is that both sides of the same-sex marriage debate are guilty of the most appalling bad faith, and dishonesty in conducting the debate. Conservatives employ the “slippery slope” argument — that their objection is not to same-sex marriage per se, but to what it might lead to — horse-love, polygamy, p-edophilia, incest, polygamous pony-love between cousins, etc. With one exception, all of these examples can be batted back — and without having to go into the displays of unargued outrage that seems to be the usual response.

Same-sex marriage is not going to lead to bestiality for the simple reason that marriage is a contract, and animals can’t be party to contracts. You can’t marry them, and you can’t make them directors of your public company, either. End of story.

Polyamory can be dealt with similarly. The whole point of marriage is to link one person to one other — for, inter alia, the purpose of having one other person who can make decisions in the case of the illness or death of their partner. Raising children, medical care during incapacity, inheritance, etc — marriage only solves the problems of such issues if it a two-person arrangement. Polyamory is usually polygamy, the having of multiple wives, in societies where men and women are not equal citizens.

It’s quite legitimate to accept same-sex marriage and reject polyamorous legal arrangements on those formal grounds. P-edophilia? Children aren’t adult citizens. They can’t sign themselves out of school, get credit cards, etc, so there’s no reason to think that legalising same-sex marriage would change their distinctive legal status. End of story.

The fact that opponents of same-sex marriage are so willing to rely on anything other than same-sex marriage as an argument against it, is a measure of their cowardice and lack of confidence in genuinely conservative arguments. But in the spirit of Churchill’s remark in the lead-up to the 1926 general strike (“I thought that I had never met anyone so stupid as the coal-mine union leaders, until I met the coal-mine owners”) the arguments of same-s-x marriage advocates give conservatives a run for their money.

For years, same-sex marriage has been presented as nothing more than a correction to an inherited inequality in an old institution. Advocates have compared the restriction on same-sex marriage to old restrictions on inter-racial marriage, and hence championed the idea of marriage equality. But this is a category error. Marriage, across the millennia, across cultures (it is not universally present in cultures, but it is overwhelmingly so) has had every form conceivable. Some cultures have forbidden marriage “out”, others have made it compulsory; some have insisted on engagements lasting years, others have allowed marriage by a mere exchange of vows before a shag. Sometimes you can’t marry your cousin, sometimes you can’t marry anyone else. And so on.

But the one constant is that marriage involves a man and a woman. The very fact that marriage, beneath its myriad differences, has had this one constant, refutes the argument that same-sex marriage represents no great change to social life. Clearly, it is a substantial one.For millennia, the obvious and essential meaning of marriage has relied on gender difference — put simply, marriage has been a way by which nature, sex and reproduction, becomes passed through culture, and given meaning. Marriage tames the wild nature of human fertility; human fertility gives marriage its tremendously charged meaning. One can see this at a traditional wedding, with the couple’s family on each “side” of the ceremony; the essential meaning of the event is that soon these disparate people will be united by common flesh and blood. The ceremony thus works backwards and forwards through time, because it unites disparate people as if they had always been related to each other — but it only does this through the promise of a child that both sides can see as their “own” but also that of the other. That this or that couple might be most likely infertile by reason of the woman’s age is irrelevant — it’s the general case that matters.

Clearly, in our era, the meaning of marriage is changing — changing more fundamentally than at any time since it emerged in the post-Ice-Age development of human culture, about 20,000 years ago. Yet same-sex marriage advocates, if they are aware of that at all, are unwilling to use it as part of their argument. The strongest argument for same-sex marriage is one that is implicit in Rai Gaita’s article in The Age a few months ago — that marriage now recognises not fertility, but “multi-levelled” love, combining commitment over time and s-xual connection, among other things, as an expression of human depth.

But to run with such an argument, you have no choice but to acknowledge that same-sex marriage represents an absolutely epochal shift in human affairs, something that marks a break with all human history. And that is something that same-sex advocates are unwilling to do.

That is partly strategic, partly left-liberal cluelessness, and in part the fact that much of the “marriage equality” cause has been run by Trotskyist groups such as the DSP who were, in more optimistic times, running “marriage abolition” campaigns. But it is also, I suspect, a vague awareness that the meaning of marriage — the sense that it is more than just an arrangement — starts to fade, the more it becomes abstracted from its original purpose of taming and enculturing fertility.

That meaning is, to a degree, “lent” to same-s-x marriage by straight marriage, and if same-sex marriage advocates were to make visible and explicit the process by which all marriage becomes a commitment ceremony when “marriage equality” is instituted, then a number of people might start to have second thoughts about it.

That is the reason conservatives argue that same-sex marriage “destroys” marriage by generalising its application, from its unique role in joining human nature to human culture. Same-sex marriage advocates who ridicule this idea do so at their peril, for it is far more widespread than they care to admit — and capable of being mobilised. There is nothing inevitable about the rise of same-e-x marriage. It is quite possible that it will stall, and be rolled backwards in years or decades to come. Paradoxically, they may do better to acknowledge the radical nature of the change, and insist on its necessity, along the lines sketched out by Gaita, rather than trying to pretend that it is simply rendering an equality that was always there, somehow lurking in the innards of it, waiting to be drawn out.

Same-sex marriage has an enormous cultural meaning, well beyond the 2-3% of people whom it might directly involve. Effectively, it advances the idea that inherited and traditionally grounded institutions such as marriage, can be repurposed and redefined — but without losing any of the intense or particular meaning that gives them their cultural power (and also anchors cultural meaning, i.e. the meaning of everyday life, more generally). That seems unlikely, and may explain why, with the best will in the world, to hear a man speaking of his husband, or about a woman’s wife, doesn’t sound real — because those words describe, and contain a real complementarity and difference, based overwhelmingly around the irreducible differences of childbearing.

Perhaps in 20 years they will. Perhaps not. But marriage is older than religion, older than the state, and it may have more powers of resistance than the “marriage equality” movement supposes. No matter. As long as there are people such as Cory Bernardi around, who do not believe in the strength of their own argument, and respond with fear and absurdity, the “marriage equality” movement will find its task much the easier.

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  • 1
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I beg to differ as I am pretty sure Jack Patcholli’s dog Oscar was Director of the Toorak Times as Jack himself was an undischarged bankrupt.

  • 2
    Stevo the Working Twistie
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Best comeback heard this week to a “family values” campaigner: “listen mate, were just trying to make same-s3x marriage legal, not compulsory”.

  • 3
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Cory Bernardi say that gay marriage would lead to “consensual s-xual relations between human beings and animals”? And since animals can’t consent to anything, then clearly, he thinks gay marriage would weaken our resistance to overtures from animals.

    So next time a dog tries to hump your leg, say “no!” for Cory; humanity’s very existence depends on it… apparently.

    Or Mr Ed gives you the nod,nod, wink,wink, just tell him to f@#[ off too.

    Thanks for saving us Cory. Onward christian soldiers, marching…

  • 4
    LolaGalah
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t marriage more about ownership of resources, which can include children, as well as property and access to services?

  • 5
    David Coady
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The requirement that marriage be between a man and a woman is not an historical constant. There are plenty of examples of same sex marriage going back to the ancient world. Not that this is relevant to the issue of whether allowing it now would correct an injustice. Of course it would.

  • 6
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Tories and “horse-love”?
    He’s not going to try to talk them out of that?

    Polyamory”? Isn’t that between a stallion and his harem?

  • 7
    Holden Back
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    When I hear the word ‘millenia’ put forward in any cultural argument, I reach for my gun.

  • 8
    paddy
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    If the polls are to be believed, it seems the majority of the Oz electorate aren’t particularly fussed by the whole business.
    However, while today’s piece is not up to your finest trolling Guy, all that existential thrashing around was still worth it for the magic line…..

    the beautiful moments between a farm boy and his heifer

  • 9
    v em
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This is the first article by Guy Rundle that I have ever liked. He is right that marriage is an intrinsically heterosexual institution. The gay liberation movement in the 1970s understood this, and opposed the institution of marriage. In fact, in the language of the time, they wanted to ‘smash’ it. But their position was at least one that could be respected. The position of gays who want to occupy a heterosexual institution is not one that can be respected. It is bizarre.

    Vern Hughes

  • 10
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Making the marriage oath and signing the legal documents of union can be undone by a court months, years, decades later - against one’s will.

    Hence, a risky business with no guarantees whether the parties are heterosxual or h0m0sxual. Why bother.

  • 11
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Why legislate at all or waste public money and time, not to mention the specific
    skills of specialised courts, on anything which is not of great public interest?

    Bringing up children is of great public interest. Sorting out the property disputes
    of couples, whether gay or straight, isn’t, now that “resititution of conjugal rights”
    has been long consigned to history.

    The logic of this is that one should only be able to get on to a federal Marriage
    register with all that provides in the way of Family Court proceedings after one has
    a child with the nominated partner. Perhaps having gone through a church or
    other marriage ceremony should be enough to allow one to put oneself on the
    register provisionally, pending the arrival of a child.

  • 12
    Stephen Luntz
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Guy your whole arguement rests on this “But the one constant is that marriage involves a man and a woman.”. Are you sure? I don’t take the stories of “two-spirit”
    marriages in North American indigenous cultures as gospel, but I think they need to be addressed (while acknowledging it is hard to prove a null).

  • 13
    Madonna
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your article Guy.
    Senator Penny Wong and partner are prominent examples of why this Australian government should change the current law.
    I do not understand why the Senator and other homosexual couples are not given the opportunity to marry the love of their lives. To obstruct this process is to discriminate, which I saw in parliament this week.
    Is our government overrun by closet homophobes who use this piece of legislation to maintain the status quo and appease traditional voters? It appears that way to me.
    I’d like to see more progressive leadership not regressive dating back to the Howard years when he amended the marriage Act.
    Why can’t these politicians transcend their own cultural norms and unified vilification against homosexuals getting married? Mr Abbott not allowing a conscious vote to his party members, Ms Gillard and cohorts crossing the floor showed me who they really are and portion of society they represent.
    I was a Labour voter in a previous life. That changed this week when I had the misfortune of seeing a disgusting display of bigotry by members I had previously looked up to.
    It’s clear to me neither party ALP nor LNP embrace ALL Australians equally.
    Therefore I will be voting for the Greens in the 2013 election.

  • 14
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Since we no longer burn witches, or stone adulterers why can’t we also admit gay people might like the same legal rights as heterosexuals, without pretending that nothing ever changes in human affairs.

    Really, it’s not a challenging notion to expand the accepted notions of marriage to include those of the same gender, whether they wish to raise a family or not.

    Look, going into the 21st century, with all kinds of assisted reproduction, genetic combinations like one male and two female components as reported the other day, and who knows, even males giving birth, is the legal state of marriage the most difficult thing we will have to face in the family department?

    I really doubt it, and in fact it wouldn’t be such a big issue if George Pell and Joe De Bruyn weren’t coupled together in the Australian parliament; figuratively speaking, I hasten to add.

  • 15
    Richard Vinciullo
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    i love guy, but i agree with stephen, david and lolagalah. this entire argument falls apart if guy is wrong to assert that (1) marriage has always in every culture been between a man and a woman and (2) marriage is predominately, almost exclusively, about reproduction between the pair (adoption doesn’t count, and it’s not about property).

    two highly disputable claims.

  • 16
    Lady White Peace
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that there is a simple way of resolving this- if gays want to have all the legal rights that a married couple have -they have a right to that- HOWEVER do not call it a marriage ceremony. Call it a legalisation of friendship ceremony or any name other than “marriage”.
    Make the ceremony completely different to a marriage ceremony, provided that it afforded the same legal rights to property etc. as a marriage does. If this were to occur I doubt there would be any controversy.

    The controversy is not about gay couples having the same rights as married couples the controversy is in their insistence on calling it a marriage.

    Why not loosen up and get the Mardi Gras organisers to come up with an amazing ceremony which is nothing like the marriage ceremony. Call it something like “Loving Companions Ceremony” ensure that it is as legally binding as the marriage ceremony, so that when the couple split up they too go through the horrors of a divorce, only it would be called some other name e.g. an “endit-exit “. No one would then complain and it would go through parliament in a few days.

  • 17
    mikeb
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Great article Guy. Sensible arguments without the righteous rhetoric loved by both sides. I personally am not fussed about opening up marriage to non heterosexual partners because ultimately it will remain a minute portion of the population as a whole, and really doesn’t hurt anyone else.

  • 18
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi y’all

    The evidence that various forms of friendship or connection ceremony had the same status as marriage is pretty thin, and a certain amount of it seems to have been gussied up by the marriage equality campaign. Whatever the status of these ceremonies - in Rome, China and elsewhere - they were never seen as marriage per se, either in law or custom, and were in any case fairly marginal elite practices.Nor have they really been a living tradition reaching into our present.

  • 19
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I think your case is pretty solid Guy, but does it really matter when Catholic Spain can overturn the iron grip of the church over gay marriage.

    The question for us is why can’t we?

  • 20
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    If marriage is such a “sacred, unique, Christian institution” - upon which our elected reps based and justified their voting (and thus our civilisation) - how many of our politicians have (been), or are, playing away/fooling around?
    Then there’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” for Tammy Wynette to sing about.

  • 21
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to two second marriages of friends where the woman in each case was post-menopause, ie there was NO WAY the marriages could be about procreation. I don’t recall any objections to either of them. While one was after a divorce, ie it would not be seen as legitimate by some religious denomination, the other was after the death of a husband, ie would be legitimate and would have been legitimate in the West at any time over the last few centuries.

    So there have been circumstances where traditional marriage does not cover procreation but is for companionship.

    As others have mentioned, there is also the traditional role of marriage (especially in the upper classes) in the distribution and ownership of property.

  • 22
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    As I noted in the article, the mere fact that people who aren’t fertile can be married, doesn’t alter the point about the general category - that marriage in every historical circumstance has been about connecting two types of people who could bear children, ie men and women, not two people who by definition, couldn’t.

    It should be obvious that marriage’s role in distributing property is related to the fact of childbearing, ie inheritance, and the transmission of property, not a category separate to it.

  • 23
    drsmithy
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    The strongest argument for same-sex marriage is one that is implicit in Rai Gaita’s article in The Age a few months ago that marriage now recognises not fertility, but “multi-levelled” love, combining commitment over time and s-xual connection, among other things, as an expression of human depth.

    No, it’s not. Such romanticising is a distraction from the real, fundamental issue: equality before the law.

    The strongest argument for same-sex marriage is that marriage is a legal contract that is being denied some people because of the gender of their sexual partner.

  • 24
    tinman_au
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Awesome article Guy, you put into words how I feel about it.

    However, being a left leaning right winger (I’m not really sure I’m actually right wing, but as I don’t agree with gay “marriage” I guess I must have some right winger in me…maybe thats a slippery slop to climate changed denial :/ ), I do believe there should be some equality in law so a guy that loves another guy (or chick that loves her chick partner) can have equality legally with a guy/chick relationship.

    It wouldn’t be marriage (as your excellent article outlines), but they do deserve the recognition of their relationship/love i feel.

  • 25
    Draco Houston
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    As I noted in the article, the mere fact that people who aren’t fertile can be married, doesn’t alter the point about the general category - that marriage in every historical circumstance has been about connecting two types of people who could bear children, ie men and women, not two people who by definition, couldn’t.

    It should be obvious that marriage’s role in distributing property is related to the fact of childbearing, ie inheritance, and the transmission of property, not a category separate to it.”

    You make a good point, Guy, but I think you are missing the full picture.

    Until very recently homosexuals couldn’t even legally have sex in our own culture, and ours is not the first culture to discriminate against homosexuals. Without Alan Turing I wouldn’t be typing a comment on your article, I probably wouldn’t have been born without his work to crack the enigma code. You remember what they did to him? made him take drugs that shrunk his balls and gave him man boobs until he killed himself.

    Could you really imagine a time in history before our own, when so much progress has been made in multi-culturalism and equality, allowing same sex marriage? I doubt there would be any less opposition.

    There was no precedent for women voting in a democracy either when universal suffrage was debated. Didn’t stop that.

  • 26
    Raimond Gaita
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Guy,
    You can catch my fuller argument on . You have to go forward to about 25 minutes. All the best, Rai

  • 27
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Raimond Gaita, someone, please, since gays can make a contract to live together and share their worldly goods and be entitled to inherit as if they were heterosexual spouses under intestacy legislation what reason is there to legislate to make the resolution of their property disputes subject to the jurisdiction of courts which have a specialised function including the uniquely important one of determining matters relating to children? As they can call themselves married if they like what possible case is there for treating “joined in matrimony under the Marriage Act (Cmth)” as something specially valuable that we should all agree to confer (with all the cachet of an OAM conferred by committee of bureaucrats’ recommendation to the DPMC as passed to the GG). None of the faithful of religions which gave us Marriage are likely to acknowledge, at least in reality as opposed to ironical or cynical lip service, that the couple are married. Indeed one might be inclined to reply to those who reported the marriage of gays “and I’ve just become a Ruritanian Count”.

  • 28
    Karen
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    @Warren Joffe - the intestacy laws don’t apply to gay people as they are not deemed ‘spouses’. A change to the Marriage Act (Cth) can change that. So, if a gay person dies and does not leave a will, the rellies in the following descending hierarchy - parent, sibling, cousin etc can inherit. It is absolutely necessary, at the moment, for a gay person to leave a will, otherwise, the family will ‘clean up’, so to speak. This has been the fundamental driver of the gay marriage push, quite apart from gay people wanting to have their relationships given the same status and recognition as others in society.

  • 29
    Hoojakafoopy
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Marriage tames the wild nature of human fertility; human fertility gives marriage its tremendously charged meaning.”

    The push for marriage equality is the push for legal, political and cultural acceptance of the fact that homosxual attraction can form the basis for meaningful, long-term relationships. Homosxual sx may now be legal in Australia, but its expression is still widely regarded as aberrant, perverse and profligate. Is this because no matter how much, nor how committed you are to the relationship in which you practice it, you will never produce a love-child?
    If the cornerstone of marriage is the cultural regulation of human reproduction, then the horse has already bolted, and the gay marriage lobby is seeking acceptance in a de-legitimatized institution. There is no stigma today in coming from a ‘broken home’. ‘Bastard’ is a term far more frequently applied as a general curse than for its archaic meaning. Reproductive technologies today enable almost anyone to have a baby. The ‘absolutely epochal shift in human affairs’ has already occurred and doesn’t need gay marriage to represent it.
    I’m one of the majority of fags and fagettes who aren’t interested in getting married (despite being in a long-term relationship) but I do resent the homophobia implicit in the denial of our access to it. But I also wonder if perhaps it should not only be legalized, but indeed made compulsory. As the human population on our fragile planet approaches 9 billion, the ‘homosxual lifestyle’ needs more than promotion- it needs enforcement!

  • 30
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    @Karen

    If you are correct in saying that the need to make a will in order for the homosexual partner to inherit is “the fundamental driver” of the push to change the Cmth Marriage Act you have in one fell swoop undermined the case.

    1. A contract settling property inter vivos would be one adequate answer which could also build in arrangements for the relattionship breaking up. (I presume you are not going to suggest that the old rule of unenforceability of “immoral” contracts might still be argued by the blood relatives).
    2. A contract to make a will in a particular way is normally enforceable despite some of the loopier things to be found in the procession of a case called Bridgewater v. Leahy through to the High Court.
    3. In at least some jurisdictions in Australia, possibly all, there is jurisdiction under what, in Victoria, is Part IV of the Administration Act to do what the testator or intestate ought to have done in disposing of his/her estate and there is no longer any restriction requiring claimants to be spouses or children

  • 31
    heavylambs
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Bernadi is attending a ‘Young Conservatives’ junket in the UK? Why? What possible justification is there for a man with parliamentary and representative commitments here to attend an insignificant event like that? And Bernadi isn’t a ‘young’ conservative, he’s forty-bloody-two! Time he acted his age.

  • 32
    Zarb Michael
    Posted Monday, 24 September 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The argument that marriage has always been between a man and a woman is highly questionable. There is even evidence of bishops marrying priests in the early days of the Christian Church.

    This is about equality. It is about equal treatment under the law. It is about being the next of kin if your spouse is in ICU and their parents don’t accept your relationship. It is about giving your children a better foundation and stability. It is about making a long term commitment.

    Also, why are we always so parochial about this? It is irrelevant that same-sx de facto spouses have nearly the same rights in Australia. This is not always the case in other countries (even the ones that do acknowledge same-sx marriage).

    The arguments need to change though. The arguments need to speak in language the opponents of change can understand. We need to talk like David Cameron, about commitment and the benefits to family and society.

  • 33
    McAllister Warren
    Posted Monday, 24 September 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Rundle

    If I may make an observation about this statement:

    …that marriage in every historical circumstance has been about connecting two types of people who could bear children, ie men and women, not two people who by definition, couldn’t.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, you are saying that never once in the entire history of humanity has an infertile woman ever married a fertile man. Because (as it is woman who do the hard yards when it come to child bearing) that would be two people geting married who, by definition, couldn’t bear children. Whereas the blessed union of two fertile lesbians would be a traditional marriage.

    Plus I’d love to see the extensive and thorough research on which you base your comment “blah blah blah…marriage in every historical circumstance…blah blah blah…”. Must have taken you months to find out that (cough cough) fact.

  • 34
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Monday, 24 September 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    McAllister Warren

    Instead of nitpicking about what Rundle is saying (according to your analysis) and getting it brainlessly wrong you might care to attend to what is of serious public importance, namely the birth into and bringing up of children in stable and competent families. What unenforceable contracts about living together people choose to make in the absence of any children and what property and inheritance arrangements they choose to make and may need to have enforced in civil courts should not waste the time of legislators or the money of taxpayers supporting separate courts of unnecessarily wide jurisdiction. (There is nothing that gay couples can’t achiever legally in the way of inheritance or property division or maintenance which cannot be the subject of a civil contract. If they care enough to go through something they wish to call marriage surely they can attend to making a contract on the usual incidents of marriage).

    I say “brainlessly wrong” because you have completely ignored the import of Rundle’s words “two *types* of people who….” and “not two people who *by definition*, couldn’t”. How utterly absurd for you to pretend that the obvious fact of some fertile person marrying an infertile person is in contradiction of that. You may be a half-educated idiot but Rundle isn’t.

  • 35
    drsmithy
    Posted Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Instead of nitpicking about what Rundle is saying (according to your analysis) and getting it brainlessly wrong you might care to attend to what is of serious public importance, namely the birth into and bringing up of children in stable and competent families.

    Important, yes. But utterly irrelevant to the question of marriage equality.

    (There is nothing that gay couples can’t achiever legally in the way of inheritance or property division or maintenance which cannot be the subject of a civil contract. If they care enough to go through something they wish to call marriage surely they can attend to making a contract on the usual incidents of marriage).

    This is what’s called discrimination. Which is what people arguing in favour of marriage equality want to eliminate.

    The “historical” argument against gay marriage is one of the weakest of all (though, they’re all so weak it’s difficult to grade them). Historically, women in marriage were property. Historically, women couldn’t initiate a divorce. Historically, women were due nothing in the case of divorce or death of their husbands.

    No normal Australian would point at these things today and say “that’s a good idea”, nor - had those traditions survived, as they do in some other less civilised countries - would they advocate retaining such laws. Why, then, anyone with intellectual integrity considers an argument against gay marriage practically summarised as “because that’s not what marriage was in the past”, to carry even the slightest amount of validity, is something of a mystery.

    Marriage, today, to secular Government of Australia, is nothing more than a legal contract between two people. What traditions, ceremonies or beliefs people want to supplement marriage with are (or shoudl be) of zero concern to it. Preventing two people from entering into a legal contract based on something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation, is immoral, unethical, and indefensible.

  • 36
    McAllister Warren
    Posted Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Just love it when people use insults to refute logic!

    Yours in brainless solidarity

    ;-)

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