Sunday, August 15, 2010

further remarks on gay marriage

protesters in Tasmania this weekend

Further to what I've written, there were other responses that our government, or rather the Labor opposition of that time - for I have no great faith in the illiberal coalition - could have made to the challenge of 'the gay revolution' I've written about. They chose to support a discriminatory piece of legislation in 2004. What has been the response elsewhere?
The Marriage Amendment Act came hard on the heels of, and was 'inspired' by, the United Kingdom's Civil Partnerships Act. This Act presented gays with a kind of 'half-way house' arrangement, it provided gays with a solemnized, contractual arrangement that was identical to marriage in terms of rights and responsibilities - yet it was not allowed to be called 'marriage'. Presumably, it was only allowed to be called 'marriage in inverted commas'. This system of gay 'marriage in inverted commas' was presumably intended to please, or fool, one constituency, while soothing the ruffled feathers of another [ie conservative, religious, homophobic heterosexuals]. It's unlikely to succeed either way.
The Australian Liberal government's response was not to follow suit, but to make explicit that marriage [with or without inverted commas] was not to be granted to homosexuals. The Marriage Amendment Act is entirely exclusionary.
Two things about the Civil Partnerships Act. First, note the word 'civil', that's to say, secular. It's as if the government is pointing out that gays aren't allowed to be religiously married, they can only be 'civilly' married [in inverted commas]. Considering that there's supposed to be a separation between Church and State, you'd have to wonder at the State panderng to religious institutions in this way. It certainly seems to imply that 'real' marriage is religious. This is all very murky.
Second, the Brits weren't the first to try to resolve this issue with the idea of 'civil partnerships'. Many states have brought in legislation, using titles such as 'civil union', 'registered partnership', 'domestic partnership' and the like, beginning with Denmark back in 1989. Other states have bitten the bullet and gone all the way with same sex marriage. Considering that, in those states that have taken the 'civil partnership' route, apparently ungrateful homosexuals have insisted on mounting legal challenges and demanding their right to marry without inverted commas, this half-way house approach looks unlikely to be viable in the long term.

So the gay marriage issue is a long way from being finished with, in Australia and elsewhere. Look forward to further pressure in this area, especially if Labor wins the election. Bob Brown has already urged a conscience vote on the issue - as a response to nationwide protests over the mean-spirited amendment to the Marriage Act six years ago.

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