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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

It's time for marriage equality

It beggars belief that Prime Minister Abbott claims moral outrage over same sex marriage while he continues committing human rights abuses against innocent victims fleeing persecution and has no qualms sponsoring human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, supporting Indonesia's human rights abuses in West Papua, defending Israeli war-crimes in Palestine and returning persecuted people to their persecutors to be jailed, tortured or murdered.

His statement that same sex marriage is a decision for the people shows how out of touch he is. The vast majority of people are not impacted by same sex marriage so why should they have a say? Yet the thriftless Abbott suggests conducting a referendum or a plebiscite which will cost more than $100 million.

A referendum would be required if the Constitution was to be changed. However, the Constitution already recognises 'marriage'. The High Court has recently ruled that this is sufficient to cover both opposite and same sex marriage, so there is no need for a referendum. Even some of Abbott's cabinet colleagues have conceded this.

A plebiscite could be used to determine whether the voting population supported marriage equality. However, this doesn't change the law because legislation is the domain of parliament. Abbott's claim that marriage equality is a matter for the people not the parliament shows that he is either deferring the issue for a future government or that he doesn't understand the responsibility of parliament in making legislation.

It could be argued that all laws or government activity is a matter for the people, but a plebiscite isn't sought every time the government debates legislation, policy or Australian commitments on foreign stages.

In 2004, then Prime Minister John Howard changed the Marriage Act to state that marriage is the 'union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others'. If Howard can effectively ban gay marriage using the parliamentary process, then Abbott can legalise it through the parliamentary process.

The cost to run an unnecessary referendum or a fruitless plebiscite could be saved if Abbott had the guts to allow his party a conscience vote on the issue, and for that matter, if the LNP could drag itself out of the medieval ages and allow same sex marriage by simply passing a bill legalising it. Instead the government continues wasting time and money as they masquerade under the guise of their misplaced morals.

Abbott and his government give oxygen to racists, Islamophobes and xenophobes, are profligate abusers of human rights and break international laws on refugees and torture, yet are offended by same sex marriage.  They peddle hatred and greed, but argue against declarations of love.

Opponents of same sex marriage argue that it will destroy the institution of marriage and harm children. How can allowing marriage destroy marriage? Divorce destroys marriage and often harms the children. Speaking of ... the irony when divorced people criticise same sex marriage as an affront to family values and traditional marriage  ... hmm ... the hypocrisy is strong.

Just back to the 'harming children' issue. There is a disturbing lack of concern for the horrendous treatment and incarceration of the children of asylum seekers in breach of international conventions on the rights of the child, not to mention international conventions on refugees and torture.

Marriage has enough challenges for even the most contented couple. However, as anyone who has ever been love will testify, no-one and nothing can stop two people who are deeply in love, who are committed to each other, from joining in matrimony till death do them part. How would any heterosexual couple feel if they were denied the ability to legitimise their love because of an archaic law and campaigning by others who 'don't like it' for whatever reason.

If people don't want to marry, as many don't because they see marriage as a patriarchal and anachronistic institution, then they don't have to. However, if people wish to get married then they should be able to marry, regardless of the gender of each partner.

The religious argument against same sex marriage is an interesting one because it is waged as though homosexuality is the most immoral and sinful thing in the world. Surely the abuse and persecution of the widow and orphan (in contravention of scripture and international law) by politicians claiming to be Christian is more of a concern than two loving people wanting to commit their lives and love to each other.

The only scripture in the bible that specifically targets homosexuality is in Leviticus, which is a book of ancient Jewish law. Very few, if any, of the scriptures in Leviticus are obeyed by Christians because it is archaic and contradicts many modern standards. Although  Israel, the world's only Jewish state, hasn't legalised same sex marriage, it does allow same sex marriage ceremonies and recognises foreign marriage certificates of same sex couples.

Believe in traditional marriage? Well, then the bible is probably not the place to use as a reference, considering that marriage was a tad more complicated than just being between one man and one woman. There were varying shades of polygamy, including the use of concubines (take King Solomon for instance - 700 wives and 350 concubines). Based on that formula, a husband should have a concubine for every two wives. There were laws around marrying the widow of one's brother, even if one were married, or marrying ones rapist. Traditional marriage was often arranged rather than by choice.

The following chart provides a great graphical representation of traditional marriage (1):

Homosexuality itself has featured in the marital rites of a number of cultures. Whether it was Roman Emperor Nero marrying two men or same sex marriages throughout North, Central and South America. (2)

Preventing marriage equality does not reduce the number of LGBTI people. Conversely, legalising it will not increase the numbers of LGBTI people if that is what opponents are concerned about. The world will be the same even with marriage equality. Most people will not be impacted and will not even notice it. The sky will not fall in and  God will not unleash pestilence and curses across the globe (considering that He seems to have overlooked the wars, racism and abuses committed in His name by Christians across the ages, including the neocons of modern times).

The government has stated that the parliament has more important things to consider. This is true, but there will always be something more important, therefore rather than wasting time arguing against changing the law, or running a referendum or plebiscite, just amend the legislation to allow marriage equality.

It is only a matter of time before marriage equality is legalised in Australia. It's time that conservatives accept this and let marriage equality takes its course.


1., Adam Mordecai, 'The Top 8 Ways To Be 'Traditionally Married,' According To The Bible', Accessed 16 August 2015.

2. ABC News, Fact Check, 'Tony Abbott incorrect on the history of marriage', Accessed 18 August 2015.

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