Saturday, 04 May 2013 22:31

Same-Sex Marriage

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THE ACT IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY—IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO APPLY

The cautionary adage; if it is not broken, don’t fix it, applies also to the amendment of legislative acts.  Where such acts have stood the test of time, amendments to or tinkering with can alter the intention of the act and leave the entire act open to new interpretation, thus weakening earlier resolve.  In other words, it can open a whole new can of worms so, leave it alone.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

THE ACT IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY—IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO APPLY

I was approached the other week in a shopping mall and asked to sign a petition in support of same-sex marriage. I declined. I am opposed to the signing of petitions that do absolutely nothing to influence the course of events when other legal and more effective means are available and so I choose not to add my meaningless name to a meaningless document. And I am opposed to same-sex marriage. When asked why I would not support amendment to an act that was discriminatory and therefore prejudicial, I asked the person to explain how anyone from the Gay community was materially disadvantaged by exclusion. The act was not written to preclude them from union—although subsequent amendments did seek to clarify what was meant by marriage—so it could hardly be considered as discriminatory. I said that any common law provisions under the act, such as transmission of estate, tenancy, and entitlement could be easily remedied by a trip to the nearest law office. Any lawyer could draft a partnership agreement that was far more binding and secure than the Marriage Act and its subsequent amendments. Moreover, it could even spell out the terms of dissolution, something the Marriage Act (1961) does not do. It could even, if they wished, determine rules regarding fidelity; something the Marriage Act simply says is a requirement but suggests no penalty for failure to comply. Such an agreement would be far more binding at law than relief under the Marriage Act. It is blatant discrimination, I was told by the petition organiser. Hardly, was my response. If I had employment requiring the services and skills of a licensed plumber it would not be discrimination to say that no others need apply. For that matter, if I wanted sales people to promote a new slimming product, it would not be discriminatory or even insensitive to state that obese persons need not apply. We are in peril of becoming dangerously oversensitive if common sense is not allowed to prevail and our every move is to be controlled by a litigious, placard waving populace. It is unconstitutional I was then told. Well, it is covered by the constitution I allowed, but only in giving power to the Commonwealth to enact legislation that was binding on all States. I again asked how the Marriage Act, that sets out to define conditions of union between a male and a female person, materially affects or in any way disenfranchises anyone from the Gay community from their individual pursuit of a happy outcome. I was then provided with the argument meant to resolve all such murky matters, I was labelled homophobic.

The fact is, in my opinion, the Gay community does not want same-sex marriage privileges. This is well proven by the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act in 2004 in the UK. This act provides the identical rights to same-sex partners as the Marriage Act. Identical in every way, granting the same permissions and the same rights of recognition as does the Marriage Act. It is not enough apparently, and so the fight goes on to have their unions recognised specifically under the Marriage Act. So, if it is not actually freedom to marry, then what, does one suppose, the real agenda is? I suggest that it is not the marriage they want, it is the wedding. What they want is the church festooned with ribbon and flowers, the elaborate costumes, triumphal music, a celebration with hundreds of people to witness it all. They want, in short, the theatre.

If you have any doubts as to this, you need only remember that a protest march that began by seeking anti-discrimination in the workplace (laudable) is now an annual ‘in your face’ event in several countries. The annual Gay Mardi Gras held in Sydney is a celebration of an aberrant lifestyle that would be considered to be in bad taste if it were held by any other community. It usurps a religious festival—actually, hijacks is a better term—to flaunt itself and its members. Perhaps in obeisance to the original purpose of the Shrove Tuesday parade is why so many of the celebrants dress in nuns’ habit. Why it is still called, Mardi gras (Fat Tuesday), yet is held on a weekend is open to conjecture but it escapes me. Why it is also necessary to bare portions of one’s body bordering on the obscene but certainly gross by any standard of behaviour is also obscure. However, it is definitely theatrical and that, in my estimation, is what it is all about.

The New Zealand parliament voted very recently to recognise same-sex marriage. There was immediate euphoria in the House with parliamentarians rushing over to hug one another as the vote went to the ayes. How often do we see such jubilant activity when bills are read and accepted? This feel-good legislation cannot be taken soberly or seriously as having been a considered response to the governance of the country. How seriously was it viewed by the public awaiting its resolution in the public arena? It depends on whether you consider several males cavorting in celebration outside of Parliament House while wearing white wedding gowns can be considered a serious reflection on a matter of some impact and import to the citizens of the country.

Doubtless, the move will be economically sound in the short term for a struggling economy as many hundreds of same-sex partners flock to New Zealand to wed. It is of little merit and advantage as it will not comply with the Australian Marriage Act in any event and will not be recognised. It can only be viewed as a token gesture; defiance perhaps; the making of a statement, maybe; a chance to participate in theatre, almost certainly in my view. Australian television interviewed a spokesperson for the Gay community soliciting his thoughts on what this might mean to any debate in Australia. He said something that I thought was rather chilling. He said that amendment to the Marriage Act in Australia was inevitable. That is pretty scary. Doubtless, with the continual pressure, it will follow New Zealand and some other countries that have responded to a minority, however vocal, and amend the Marriage Act. But then we are all left to ponder what is next on the agenda of this very much ‘in your face’ Gay Rights movement. And will that also be considered inevitable?

David Edwards

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