Friday, 13 August 2004

Slavishly Following America

(Amplifying a previous post of a year ago) Australian PM John Howard has often been accused by his opponents of being nothing more than a sock-puppet for the USA. As the US goes, Australia follows, slavishly aping its 'Great and Powerful Ally'. Or at least, that's the party line.

I see no reason why two countries, with similar societies and similar interests, should have wildly diverging policies 'just to be different'. Especially in 'Big Picture' matters like Trade, Defence, and Foreign policy. In the matters of great International Worth and Moment, our interests naturally coincide. The usual things, Peace, stability, the World environment, the World economy, Human Rights, things like that. In the minor matters, such as Gun control, Vegemite vs Peanut Butter, exact voting mechanisms and so on, we differ, and differ markedly, and it is good that we do so. Let Evolution and Time decide the winner, if it's important. I've seen no convincing evidence of any slavish imitation, at least until now.

But this new ban on gay marriage just bulldozed through Parliament simply reeks of it.
Federal Parliament has approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with the legislation passing the Senate with Labor's support.

The Government and the Opposition used their numbers to cut short debate on the bill, the first time the "guillotine" power has been used since December 2002.

The legislation defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Why is the subject being brought up now? I've tried to come up with an alternative explanation, but the only possible reason for it I can see is that the issue is currently being debated in the US. Eighteen months ago, there was no issue here. None. Twelve months ago, there was a big media hoo-ha, simply because there was a similar kerfuffle in the USA. And yet today we're presented with the spectacle of both major parties in complete agreement on the issue, and using the Guillotine to silence the 'usual suspects' in the Loony Left section, the one time that the Loony Left might actually have something useful to say. Like pointing out the degree of imitation, which in this case is Not the sincerest form of flattery.

As for the ban itself? Look, I'm an abashed (mild) homophobe. I believe that Homosexuality should be tolerated, not encouraged. I'm about as against it as I am against, say, Disco. And vastly less against it than I'm against Post-Modernism.

But even this homophobe thinks that a Ban against Gay marriage is inhuman. Wrong. Not exactly Evil perhaps, but Spiteful, Petty, Cruel, Mean and even Perverse.

No Church or other religious institution should be compelled to perform a Marriage ceremony for same-sex couples, if that is against the credo of that particular Faith. But Marriage as an institution has been (pardon the expression) divorced from the Religion-du-etat for a century now. Church weddings, if not a minority, are by no means universal. Marriage is certainly about providing a really good, proven-to-work method of rearing children, but there are plenty of childless couples (through choice or otherwise) who prove that it's not solely about that. I'll re-quote Robert Louis Stevenson, it is :
a sort of friendship recognised by the police.
To state the bleedin' obvious, it's about two (or more) people who want to live together as a unit, with a legal contract binding them, and more besides. Because you can't talk about Marriage meaningfully without also talking about Love. Gay people can fall in love too. They can want, even yearn for a symbolic form of recognition that they want to stay together 'till Death do them part', and take a ceremonial vow to this effect, a vow recognised by Society at large. It is altogether right and proper that they be allowed so to do. For if not, it calls into question all other marriages not solemnised according to some particular narrow moral viewpoint, the rights of de facto couples in particular, as well as various polygamous and polyandrous relationships solemnised overseas, yet heretofor recognised in good faith within Australia. There are a whole host of other, legal issues to do with property and such that I wrote about in my previous post, and I won't repeat them. There are married people now, some in parliament, who are wondering whether the legislation will be restrospective or not, and how it affects their status.

For these reasons, this legislation is Bad Law, ill-conceived, perry, narrow and crude. It must not be allowed to stand, and should never have been passed in the first place.


hound said...

Sounds like your mildly gay.

Zoe Brain said...

My mildly gay what?

Texas Gal said...

Personally, I think that the institutions will catch up with the law. For example, once civil unions become recognized as the gay alternative of marriage of heteros, the insurance companies will begin to recognize civil union “spouses” for the purposes of health coverage, pensions systems, etc. all will follow suit. It’s a social change in progress but time will catch up to it. Other things like property, inheritance, can be handled by legal contract means.

I support the conservation of the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, even though I doubt I would ever agree to it… that’s an entirely different discussion however. However, I do feel it is a matter for the US States but at the same time I am concerned that a Supreme Court might take if upon itself to overrule the Marriage Protection Act in the future.