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People & Ideas

Nov 16, 2010

Rainbow of opinions over gay marriage

Crikey media wrap: Greens MP Adam Bandt brought gay marriage into parliament yesterday, introducing a motion of marriage equality in parliament to ask politicians to search out their constituents views on the issue.

It was a rainbow of opinions in Canberra yesterday, with Greens MP Adam Bandt introducing a motion of marriage equality in parliament to ask politicians to search out their constituents views on the issue.

And MPs spouted forth a variety of views on the topic.

NSW federal Labor backbencher Stephen Jones supported Bandt’s motion, arguing gay marriage as a human rights issue: “Having applied the core Labor values of equality, fairness and dignity, I believe that there is a case for change.” Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull said marriage should be between a man and a woman, while independent Andrew Wilkie declared: “The majority of the Australian community is ready for a conscience vote on marriage equality, so let’s at least agree to go so far as having a public discussion about the issue.” Labor MP Mark Arbib — better known as one of the faceless men — is supposedly under fire for publicly supporting gay marriage against PM Gillard’s wishes.

Currently most MPs are constrained to toe the party line on gay marriage, but would change their public views should a conscience vote be allowed, suggested Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Check out this map of those in Australia who apparently agreed with the phrase ‘I think homosexuality is immoral’.

As Crikey’s Bernard Keane wrote on yesterday’s Essential Report:

“On gay marriage, 53% of voters believe people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, compared to 36% who oppose it. Greens and Labor voters are the strongest supporters, but even conservative voters are divided — 45% of Liberal voters back gay marriage and 45% oppose it.

Different states — and cities — offer up different views on whether gays should marry, but the sunshine state is proving the most conservative in terms of acceptance of homosexuality, regardless of whether they are married or not. As Courtney Trenwith reports in the Brisbane Times:

“Queensland is the least gay-friendly state in the country with one person in three believing homosexuality is immoral, a national survey reveals. The Roy Morgan Research data also shows two-thirds of the state’s population is opposed to same-sex couples adopting children. The anti-gay sentiment is strongest on the state’s central coast and in the west, where up to 45 per cent of people regard gay and lesbian unions as immoral.”

But whether gay marriage should be allowed or whether the Gillard government should pursue it are two different topics, argues David Penberthy in the Daily Telegraph:

“A different question, however, is whether people wanted the Gillard Government to act as a matter of urgency to legalise gay marriage. I would suspect you would get a different answer from many respondents. In the current climate, I would suspect that you would get a hostile answer from many respondents.”

In one interesting way to convince the conversatives about gay marriage, Tory Shepherd thinks state governments should strive for the pink dollar. She writes in the Adelaide Advertiser: “South Australia should strive to become a gay Mecca. We will never be the biggest or the richest city in Australia. Our future lies in the niches; in doing certain things better than anyone else.”

Stuff defending gay marriage, let those who are against it try and articulate a strong argument, setting them up to fail, suggests Susie O’Brien in the Herald Sun: “…we should encourage the bigoted, homophobic opponents of gay marriage to come forward and justify their desire to discriminate.”

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10 thoughts on “Rainbow of opinions over gay marriage

  1. freecountry

    In this year’s final Q&A on 8 November, a member of the audience asked:
    [To me it seems that those two points completely contradict each other, because all of you seem to have agreed that religious ideologies should not be imposed on or should not dictate government policy but what you’ve just said there is that, oh, a lot of major religions, you know, dismiss or don’t recognise the idea of the union of two people from the same sex. So why should that be applied to a government policy? I just don’t understand. And the idea of not wanting to rubbish the Marriage Act that we have at the moment, I don’t understand the practical reasons behind that whatsoever. I just would like to hear a practical reason behind, rather than, “Oh, I just have an aversion to it.”]
    None of the panel was able to answer the question. I was waiting for someone to say:
    [There is no reason why a same-sex couple should not have recognition of their lifelong commitment to each other; or sharing of income for tax purposes; or recognition as next of kin; or any of the other official acknowledgements of being committed to a life together.
    A potential problem could arise with child adoption. It’s none of a government’s business if a gay person has a child, either from a previous marriage or by other arrangement. There is more than one way to have a family.
    But it is a government’s business to regulate the adoption of a children out to couples who are not biologically related to them. When choosing new parents for children, communities expect agencies to choose a man and a woman with a healthy marriage, and they expect this to be in the law. Couples requesting to adopt a child do not have any “rights”; all the rights are on the side of the child.
    Extending the definition of marriage could make this standard difficult to maintain in court. We would need to be sure those community standards on adoption are safe before considering any change to the marriage definition.]

  2. John

    I was very disappointedwith the contribution of my MP, Malcolm Turnbull, to last night’s debate on Adam Bandt’s motion relating to same-sex marriage. Seeking reflected glory from his father-in-law’s fine qualities doesn’t cut the mustard with me. Bragging about the Howard Government’s tiny contributions towards equality is silly. Philip Ruddock was an impediment in the process of reform rather than being a facilitator. Malcolm’s fig-leaf which he held to cover the Liberal Party’s past record of homophobia was its support for the HREOC reforms when the Liberal Party was in Opposition in 2008. However, coming late to the reform agenda is not the same as showing courage when you are in Government.
    Murray Hill and John Gorton are the Liberal Party’s only heroes from the past for homosexuals. Warren Entsch, Mal Washer and Simon Birmingham are today’s heroes, but sadly, not Malcolm on marriage.
    In last night’s debate, Philip Ruddock relied on the sentence that “marriage is a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life.”
    The phrase “to the exclusion of all others” has been both misunderstood and misrepresented. The “for life” part no longer operates!
    The part of the wedding vow which states “to the exclusion of all others” is meant to exclude adultery from one’s marriage, not to exclude same-sex unions from the institution of marriage.
    While I respect Turnbull’s personal right to hold on to a traditional definition of marriage, he doesn’t represent his constituents’ rights to have change and progress.
    We returned him in 2010 because we thought he might again become the leader of his party and because we thought he would be a progressive leader. Unfortunately, neither came to pass. There is still the possibility of his re-claiming the leadership but I think Wentworth may elect a Green MP next time unless Malcolm Turnbull stands for liberal progress instead of traditional conservatism.

    On a very personal note, I have been married to my husband for 35 years.
    For the first 25 years, until hormone treatment for prostate cancer rendered him impotent, we fucked like rabbits. That covers “to have and to hold”.
    He has had two heart attacks followed by two coronary artery by-pass operations, Type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer and dementia, and a number of other medical misfortunes. I would call that “in sickness and in health”.
    We have been finacially sound, then vulnerable, then sound again. I would call that “for richer, for poorer”.
    My husband is an alcoholic and he lost his job because of that and rampant homophobia. Nevertheless, there have been many good things about him and many good times shared. I think that covers “for better, for worse”.
    We are still married but he turned 80 this year. I suspect we will remain married “until death us do part”. I say that because, unlike those whose marriages are legally recognised, we can’t serve divorce papers on each other, even if we wished. We can only end our marriage by separation and desertion. He lacks legal capacity to do either and I wouldn’t abandon a man with dementia, who is dependent on me financially, physically and emotionally. That would be immoral!
    I am no longer my husband’s lover but I am still his carer. That seems to cover “to love and to cherish”.
    Some people may think our marriage is immoral. I think we have behaved with the utmost morality.
    Come to think of it, I don’t know many straight couples who have demonstrated our level of commitment!

  3. Elizabeth Thornton

    I think that homophobia and pedophilia have been closely linked .Whenever we see a pedophilia ring operating somewhere there are always pictures of Middle aged men dripping with Gold jewlery and potbellies.

    We need to see more about women who have lived together and adopted children .The media is all too quick to show a quick snatch to illustrate an issue.Even if the picture was taken ten years ago !

  4. Venise Alstergren

    Of course I’m in favour of gay marriage and have absolutely no quibble with same sex parents having children. The one question that absolutely floors me is why. Why would anyone wish to surrender their freedom?

  5. Stiofan

    This so-called debate typifies the confusion, intellectual dishonesty and sheer ignorance that passes for public debate in modern Australia.

    For example, how come the alleged vox populi is the vox dei when it comes to gay marriage, but not, say, refugee policy?

    On a more fundamental level, the term “human rights” is bandied about with little concern for what it actually means. (And don’t quote me some UN declaration – that’s nothing more than an appeal to authority, which is philosophically bankrupt.) I suspect that few of the participants in the debate could give you a coherent answer to the question of where these alleged rights come from!

    Finally, in this, as in most other things, a useful question is “cui bonis?” It is a hoot to see the Greens/Fairfax/ABC cabal, after years of whinging about Howard’s alleged “wedge politics”, now using the same tactic on the parliamentary ALP!

  6. John

    Having lived in a de facto same-sex marriage for 35 years, the passage of time has proven my de facto marriage is a true commitment and has outlasted the marriages of most of my friends and relatives, but in our early years we were forced to endure and overcome prejudice among our relatives and work colleagues.
    We made a stand and wore matching wedding rings from the beginning despite the law’s refusal to recognise us. Some people were offended by our display of wedding rings but we stood our ground.
    The country has caught up with our brand of love and commitment but the major political parties have not. Young gays and lesbians should not have to prove their love and commitment by 35 years of hindsight. If two people love each other and want to commit to a social union encompassing a shared life, mutual love, care and support, and shared goals, the major parties should enable it through legalising same-sex marriage.

  7. Amber Jamieson

    What an incredible story John, thank you.

  8. Nobs of Mullion

    So, lets get this right… The most important issue facing Australia right now, is whether homosexuals can get married? It’s got me Buggered!

  9. Daniel

    Agreed Nobs. Let’s talk more about interest rates because that’s so intereszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  10. Stiofan

    This is on a par with the Life of Brian sketch about the right of men to have babies.