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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Much ado about equality

Marriage Equality is about providing same-sex couples with the same rights, the equal rights, that heterosexual couples have in entering into a committed, legal marriage. It will not lead to bestiality, it will not destroy the family unit or the church or even plushy love. Yet the fear-mongering continues unabated.

Opposing same-sex marriage is an attack on freedom and equal rights!

Today the Lower House in Australia's federal parliament voted against the Marriage Equality bill by 98 votes to 42. Also today, Senator Cory Bernardi, the Parliamentary Speaker for the Leader of the Opposition, resigned because of a statement he made in the Upper House which concluded that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to legalising bestiality. His exact statement was 'these creepy people say it is okay to have consensual sex between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?' (1) So how does an animal give consent?

The debate around same-sex marriage has become quite heated at times from numerous groups who are either for or against it.

The argument is over equality. Yet, there are a lot of people who are vehemently opposed to affording other citizens the same rights that they enjoy.

Same-sex marriage is not an attack on society, the church or marriage. Opposing same-sex marriage is an attack on liberty.

Religious groups seem to be the most vocal opponents of marriage equality and the ones with the most exaggerated conclusions, such as:
  • legalising same-sex marriage will lead to legalising polygamy, bestiality, incest and a host of other activities that most people would be appalled by;
  • same-sex marriage is an attack on the institution of marriage;
  • same-sex marriage undermines the family unit; and
  • same-sex marriage is a threat to freedom of religion.
The drawing of illogical conclusions, such as polygamy and bestiality, is blatant scare-mongering. Homosexuality is a naturally, occurring sexual urge whereas polygamy and so on, are purely giving into sexual gratification and can be undertaken by either homosexuals or heterosexuals. In fact, the majority of people indulging in polygamy and incest for example, are heterosexuals. Should we ban heterosexual marriage?

The sexual urge that forms the basis of heterosexuality and homosexuality is different to the sexual gratification that drives people to indulge in activities such as polygamy, bestiality or incest. Linking these for the purposes of making an argument against same-sex marriage is illogical and playing on fear and disgust rather than making a logical, coherent argument. 

And then there is the argument that same-sex marriage is an attack on the institution of marriage, which seems to ignore the fact that no-one is opposing, or trying to end, heterosexual marriage. The only people arguing against marriage are those who are opposing same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage will not undermine heterosexual marriage.

Same-sex marriage is not an attack on the family unit. If anything, the harm that we have seen inflicted on many homosexuals has often been because of rejection within their family unit when they have either come out or been outed. If the family unit is valued so strongly, then no parent should disown their offspring for being gay. Supporting same-sex marriage is one way to strengthen the family unit, rather than weaken it. Additionally, there are many people in same-sex relationships who have had children to previous partners. Denying them the ability to formalise their commitment to a partner of the same gender is an attack on the family structure and is denying the provision of a stable, family unit for them and their children.

There is an argument that prohibiting same-sex marriage is protecting children from being bullied over having gay parents. Children bully each other regardless of same-sex parents. It is the role of parents to ensure that their children do not bully, that they learn to appreciate diversity and to deal with disagreements in an appropriate manner.

Religious groups in particular, feel that whenever someone disagrees with them, that it is an attack on religion.

Yet they often are the ones with the vitriolic attacks. People cannot be forced into believing in your religion or views. The beauty of living in a democracy is that we can speak our minds and stand up for what we believe in. We can criticise others. This is not an attack on religion. Certainly, vitriol should be kept out of any argument, whether arguing for or against marriage equality.

Those in favour of same-sex marriage are not advocating the systematic destruction of the church. If same-sex marriage is more powerful than God, then the church really needs to reevaluate itself.

The fear regarding marriage equality often reverts to allegations of sinister motives such as the 'gay agenda', as if there is a concerted effort to convert the entire world to homosexuality. The issue is marriage equality. That is, enabling gay couples to have the same rights, the equal rights, that heterosexuals do, in being able to marry if they chose.

Legalisation of same-sex marriage will not lead to bestiality or polygamy and it will not destroy families, the church or freedom of religion.

The opposition to same-sex marriage is an attack on:
  • equal rights;
  • the family unit; and
  • marriage.
While the Marriage Equality Bill was defeated in the federal Lower House today, there are a number of bills in various states such as Tasmania and South Australia. For instance, marriage equality passed the lower house of the Tasmanian parliament and is soon to be presented to the senate.

It is just a matter of time before marriage equality is legalised and people can move on with their lives, after which we will be wondering what all the brouhaha was about.


1. Hansard, Australian Senate, 18 September 2012, Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012, Senator Cory Bernardi (South Australia)

Related articles on

1. Adam & Eve meet Adam & Steve

2. The War Against Christianity's Fundamentals

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