Human nature – demand for the impossible

I think I’ve found what makes humans different from other occupants of this planet. It goes like this. Imagine something that you know is impossible. Pass the word around. Soon there will be some other human imagining how it might actually be possible. Once we know it might be possible then it becomes something that we want. As the impossible gets close to becoming possible then the ‘want’ becomes a ‘need’. When the impossible is now possible it becomes more than a need; it becomes a right, and if I can’t have it, right here, right now, I’m taking to the streets, forming a lobby, heading for the United Nations and appearing on morning television until I get justice, equality and my human rights. Anyone standing in my way will get trolled by my Twitter followers and demonised on Facebook. Look out!

That’s human nature and I that’s why they’re called human rights.


The myths of the ‘yes’ campaign.

The ‘no’ campaign has been found to be propagating myths and lies, what about the arguments of the ‘yes’ campaign?

1. Marriage is a basic human right, and not allowing same-sex marriage is a violation of that right.

Marriage is not a basic human right at all. Marriage is an institution which has evolved within society to provide for society’s need for order and certainty surrounding the birth of children. Society has developed marriage for this purpose, to bind two people together, man and woman, to have children and form a family, which is the basic unit of society. Marriage has developed only because of this purpose. Without the fact that when a man and a woman join together they bear children to raise, there would be no need for marriage, so there exists no context where marriage would exist if this was not true. Extending marriage to encompass other circumstances is therefore irrelevant, at best.

What is a basic human right is that a person be able to choose their partner in life. Fortunately, these days, that right already exists for all people in Australia.

2. Not allowing same-sex marriage is discrimination

Discrimination is unacceptable in society; not allowing people of the same sex to marry is discrimination and is therefore unacceptable; so the law must be changed. 

Superficially this makes sense until you realise that almost all laws are discriminatory in some way. Laws always prescribe who is to benefit and who is ineligible based on certain criteria. Aged pensions are paid to old people except the very rich. Free schooling is provided only for young people. Ex-soldiers qualify for certain benefits. Citizens get rights that others do not. Disabled get to use disabled car spaces. Aborigines get certain rights that others don’t. Property owners get to keep people from their properties. SCG members get the best seats for the cricket. Car users use the roads and pedestrians use the foot paths. Company directors have special laws. We have different laws that provide different rules for different parts of society according to circumstance and need. So it follows that marriage laws, which currently apply to men and women, may discriminate against same-sex couples but it is up to the same-sex campaigners to prove that that discrimination is actually a bad thing. It is not an automatic conclusion.

3. Same-sex relationships are being treated as second-rate and this has an adverse impact on the self-esteem of the LGBTI community leading to suicides

It’s hard to argue against such an emotive argument. Of course, you would support any measure that reduces the rate of suicide in young, vulnerable people.

My first response is to say that not including same-sex relationships in marriage does not necessarily imply they are second-rate at all. Marriage is not some Holy Grail that imparts on those who acquire it some mystical powers. Marriage is a social convention that for tens of thousands of years has helped to maintain stable societies. It is generally entered into by a man and a woman who love each other. Recently, heterosexual couples have often decided to forego marriage ceremonies and just live together, have children and maintain a stable relationship. They are not seen to be second-rate, just different.

The second point to make is that it is the ‘yes’ campaigners who have turned the interpretation of a ‘no’ vote into a general condemnation of LGBTI people, which it is not. Even though some ‘no’ voters will be deplorable individuals that doesn’t mean that most ‘no’ voters won’t actually have a great deal of goodwill towards the LGBTI community. Linking ‘no’ votes to community attitudes towards gay people has been a successful but dishonest tactic by the ‘yes’ campaign.

4. The current survey is purely about whether two people who love each other should be able to marry.

This argument has been repeated many time by Christine Forster but it just shows that she shares with her brother the ability to deceive by simplification. A change in society of this magnitude is not without consequences. What consequences? We don’t know, yet. You cannot change the scope of an institution that has existed for so long without many flow on effects. I give it twenty-five to thirty years before we know. My feeling is that there will be consequences especially related to that natural consequence of  most marriages, children.

This report from The Economist  in 2014 gives an insight into novel ways to get children. In this regard I can only provide my own person opinion, not a rational argument. My opinion is that using such methods of creative procreation to satisfy the personal needs of adults, however earnestly felt, is ethically dubious at best and potentially a gross abuse of power and a reckless experiment at the expense of the children, who may suffer anguish and loss throughout their lives never knowing who their real father or mother is.

I feel that it is time that we stopped experimenting with children!

5. Marriage is not about having children because old people marry and not all people who marry have children.

This argument says that just because a same-sex couple cannot produce offspring is not a reason to stop them marrying. After all, there are old and childless couples who marry. However when older men and women marry they are just conforming with a social norm that compels them to follow certain conventions. This social norm does not now apply to same-sex couples and I doubt if it ever will. In fact, even most young people only marry because of this social norm. Given the choice they would gladly leave out the signing of the register and just get about their business of being happy together. Why do same-sex couples want to be regulated by the Marriage Act instead of just living together and enjoying their lives? This needs an answer. I repeat, why do same-sex couples want to be regulated by the Marriage Act instead of just living together and enjoying their lives? This still needs an answer. Why would you want the government to take control of your relationship? That is what the Marriage Act is about. The government wants to register and record who is with whom. Where is the love in that?

As for saying that childless couples are an argument for same-sex marriage I am particularly affronted by such an argument. Talk about marriage equality!

Besides, for almost a decade same-sex couples have enjoyed most of the rights of married couples, the same as de facto different-sex couples.

6. Same-sex couples do not enjoy all of the rights and privileges of married couples.

This argument is by way of exploding the supposed myth that the current laws bestow equal rights on de facto same-sex couples as de facto hetero couples. It argues that the de facto rights in Australia are not at all the same as having a piece of paper saying that you are married. Unfortunately, when that argument is dissected the only instances presented are around the definition of next-of-kin and the automatic change of a person’s pre-existing will. These two technicalities are hardly show-stoppers and laws can be changed in respect of these two matters if required. So this myth-buster just proved to create another myth.

7. Most of the problems children experience in life are inflicted by their heterosexual parents.

This is a particularly fallacious argument because it is patently correct. Since all children are born of heterosexual relationships all problems a child has in life must be spring from this origin. An implication of this argument is that hetero couples have been mucking up children’s lives and it is now time to hand the responsibility over to more competent hands. How is having two fathers but not the loving touch of a mother, or two mothers, without the strong influence of a father, going to be superior? This is delusional. Of course two loving men can raise a child well, just as two loving women can also do a great job of raising a child. But the human failings that beset different-sex couples when they try raising children that they conceived and gave birth to are also going to be present in just proportion in single-sex couples. But the consequences of failure are likely to be much worse.

8. Children of same-sex couples do just as well on indicators as those from hetero marriages.

This is based on actual studies and I believe it. I certainly hope that this is maintained if the marriage laws are changed. Most of the case studies related to cases where a mother with custody of her own children partnered a woman after a marriage breakdown. In these cases the children know their own father and understand the circumstances of their birth. We have yet to see the full implications of a second wave of children who know only one biological parent and have no understanding of how they actually came to be in this world.

9. Vote ‘yes’ for love. All love is equal. Vote ‘yes’ for marriage equality.

I think that these statements are the statements that capture people’s hearts and minds. They are very compelling. Why should one group be stopped from loving? Why should we treat one person’s love as being better than another’s? Why should we have antiquated laws that discriminate against one group in society? Let’s go with our hearts and make people happy. Let’s treat all relationships as equal.

These arguments are simple, easy to understand and attractive to people who want an inclusive, diverse and open society. They are also very sentimental and so attract people on the basis of their feelings. So what’s wrong with these statements?

Firstly, marriage laws are not about love. They are about regulating society to conform with some norms that have existed for a long time. To counter, you could say let’s change those norms, but that would be a completely different argument and that is what the ‘yes’ campaign has been careful to hide. Suppose the question on the survey had been “Do you agree that the government should change the basic unit of society with completely unknown consequences?” I think that would have limited success.

Secondly, marriage laws are not about love. People are already free to love whoever they like (no pun intended!) There is nothing in the Marriage Act that enhances one’s love for another. There is also nothing in the Marriage Act that prohibits unmarried people from loving their partner.

Thirdly, same-sex relationships cannot have ‘equality’ with hetero relationships in a mathematical sense, i.e. being exactly the same. Hetero relationships produce children whose biological parents are also the parents who raise them. Equality will remain a myth.

10. The ‘no’ vote proponents have lied and made up false claims that appeal to people’s fears.

Actually, this myth is mostly true. On the other hand they have been facing a very tricky opponent. For all the words of love and equality the ‘yes’ vote has been particularly ruthless with their opponents. I placed a small comment on twitter and was abused without mercy. The claims of having a small budget for the campaign do not stack up when they have pressured huge corporations to make statements in their favour and even being neutral has been a source of outrage.

Overall, both sides have presented some fairly specious arguments. What disappointed me was the ‘no’ side stressing religious arguments, which have little appeal to those who are likely to be wavering. They are just preaching to the converted, literally.

My decision

I voted ‘no’ mainly because of a sense of making a decision based on what I thought were rational rather than emotional grounds. I feel that I have tried to avoid using any of the tricky arguments of the ‘no’ campaign and presented responses that show that same-sex marriage in Australia is unnecessary, but also potentially a problem in the future. Of the latter, I have no evidence, of course!

Not only that, but the strength and the urgency of the calls for same-sex marriage as soon as possible, their resistance to the plebiscite and the postal survey and their intolerance towards any opposition all raise my suspicions. Why the urgency? Why so much pressure? I don’t like being pressured. What is behind this move? Why are we changing a law that really advantages no one and yet potentially raises the likelihood of adverse results?

Diary of Tim, age 7

My teacher asked me to keep a diary and write down things I do or think about.


Today I saw a lady outside the school. I think she might be my mother. She was very pretty and she smiled at me. I smiled too and gave her a little wave. Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow. I keep thinking about her.


Two weeks ago, I asked Daddy Paul about my mother. He said he would tell me all about her one day. That was two weeks ago and he still hasn’t told me about her.

I have two dads and it’s a lot of fun, especially when we play frisbees or cricket in the park. I like daddy Paul the best. Daddy Henry is very funny. He picks me up and laughs and rubs his face on mine. He’s pretty scratchy.


Daddy Paul said he is my real father because a little bit of him is in every part of me.


Daddy Henry picked me up from school and bought me an ice-cream and we walked around the shops looking at stuff. He told me he didn’t have a father because his father ran away when he just little. That’s why being my father is so special.


I saw that pretty lady again outside the school. She smiled at me and waved. I ran over to her. She leant over with her face close to mine. Her face was very soft. I asked her if she was my mother. She said no, she was a relief teacher. She didn’t have any children, but she said one day she wanted a boy just like me. She gave me a hug. I smiled at her and then I cried a little bit too.


[NB: fictional account. no connection with any real persons]

Mass Hysteria

Occasionally through history there have been eruptions of mass thought that spread through a population, especially younger people, that although illogical or counter to existing morality, catch fire like Australian bushland on a hot, windy day. They then burn themselves out and later leave the protagonists bewildered about what they were thinking. Why did we do that? How did we allow ourselves to be sucked up into that strange society. Some never recover.

To give some examples: There was the hippy, drug-taking, free sex culture of the 1970s. They were going to change the world but within a few years ended up drifting back into the mainstream or wasting their lives in drug and welfare dependence. Then there were the idealistic youth of China who became the Red Guards and betrayed their family, their teachers and their fellows in a mass hysteria rarely seen since Hitler Youth. I once spoke with some of those people and they couldn’t explain their actions, even to themselves. There was the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant witch hunts of the 16th Century. At a more banal level, there was an outbreak of RSI that occurred in the 1980s causing phantom symptoms in tens of thousands of workers. In each case, people develop a collective mentality that defies logical thinking. These cases can be trivial, banal or tragic and deadly. Think of the situation of the Cambodian people under Pol Pot. Think of the hysteria afflicting people joining ISIS.

As I write this I can see that the people who run this blogging platform have plastered a rainbow stripe at the masthead of this page. This marks their solidarity with gay-rights and marriage equality. After years of official discrimination nobody should be opposed to giving gay people a fair go or even a helping hand to overcome shocking mistreatment in the past and many well-meaning people have extended that logic to the absolute necessity of same-sex marriage. But I fear that at this point it has gone beyond being a simple matter of justice to becoming another outbreak of mass hysteria with people unable to use balanced thinking and unable to consider the arguments of those who say ‘no’.

First, I have to explain that I am not homophobic, but I would say that, wouldn’t I. Through my life I have never had a long-term friendship with a gay person but I have found that gay guys tended to like me. I can recall my shock when I first started work when a gay guy in the office was murdered, presumably by a gay-bashing gang. That was really shocking. In those days there was so much fear and loathing. Thank god that in the last thirty years that homosexuality has become accepted as just a personal feature that adds to the unique individuality of each person.

A lot of this change in perception has been achieved by the gay rights movement. That movement is not just a grass-roots movement but has been bank-rolled by wealthy donors, such as Tim Gill a software billionaire. He is reported to have spent half a billion dollars, fighting court cases to remove discriminatory laws or regulations that involved disadvantage to gay people. For having achieved so much he could be considered a saint. He has also used his influence to involve other corporations, some of America’s largest, to back his projects to the extent that the gay rights movement has a large war chest and a lot of powerful backers.

This powerful movement, however, has little tolerance of those who oppose it. Even my employer, with thirty-three thousand employees, is a backer to the extent that the CEO sent emails to every employee encouraging them to vote ‘yes’ in the current survey. That I found really weird. It seems so inappropriate for an employer to be interfering in a social issue of this nature and attempting to influence its employees in this way. When has that ever happened before? That is when I started thinking about mass hysteria. That is when I started to think about ‘correct-speak’ and ‘correct-think’ and how it filters through society like some sort of unquestionable moral imperative. Logic is put aside as irrelevant, reason is is treated as heretical and conserving the status quo becomes evil.



Why do we get married, anyway?

Introducing the third man or woman into the same-sex marriage debate.

Community expectations

Why did you get married? If not yet married, why would you get married? Why would a same-sex couple get married?

You may answer, “to be with the one I love.” Nice answer, but you could just live with the other person. Why not? “But her mother wouldn’t like it.” “My parents wouldn’t approve.” “I’d feel weird around her churchy relatives, wondering what they may be thinking.” “She might feel vulnerable if there isn’t a certificate and the obligations that go with it.” “The local priest or minister wouldn’t approve.” “Besides, we want to have children.” “What would we tell our workmates?” Some of these things go through people’s minds. So the basic reason people get married is actually to meet community expectations. This is all very old-fashioned. If you took away community expectations entirely, how many men and women would actually get married?

Young people have increasingly been rejecting such ideas. But while ‘community expectations’ still have a significant influence on the thoughts of young men and women, young gay couples have no such community expectations imposed on them – gay couples actually have complete freedom to do what they like. Leaves a question. Why do they want to get married?

What is the most boring part of any wedding? It’s the signing of the register. That’s the only part that actually comes under the Marriage Act. Most people would happily skip that.

Marriage places rules on couples

Until quite recently, the rule of society has been that if you wanted to live together and share a bed together, you had to get married first.

Marriage has always been a restriction on the freedom of the two people coming together. In societies all over the world the obligations that go with marriage are there for a purpose. The reasons are differences in power between the sexes, legitimacy of heirs, inheritance and so on. All the laws about who gets what depended on the certainty provided by a state-recognized marriage. It mainly served the rich. Poor people often just made their own arrangements.

The relative powerlessness of a woman in times past meant that rules were needed to ensure that marriage provided her protection, but at the cost of subjugation to her new husband. Laws and amendments to laws in the last two centuries have gradually given women equal status within marriage. Today, the moral strictures are also more lenient than in the past. If an unmarried girl has a baby today she is no longer forced into marriage or onto the streets. Even in the last half-century the morality has changed dramatically. Today, we pay young girls who have children outside marriage and we’ve abandoned the idea of providing the children better opportunities through adoption. The moral burden has switched and is now on the young woman to keep her child and on society to support it.

Marriage Acts

When the first British laws of marriage were passed about two-hundred and fifty years ago, they replaced church law and common law. The original reason these laws were passed was actually to make it harder or more time-consuming to get legally married. If an unfortunate marriage was found to be illegal it could be annulled. I would guess that the possibility of having his daughter elope with the footman or having the young Earl seduced by a chamber-maid was mainly on the mind of each of the gentlemen passing these laws.

The laws we have today basically reflect the thinking of a century ago. The Australian Marriage Act is very dry, mainly about who is qualified to perform ceremonies and such-like. It was amended about a decade ago to be restricted to man-woman marriage, only because it had never been necessary to spell it out before.

Religious and common law marriages

Long before there were any acts of parliament (in England, say), the recording of marriages and performing wedding ceremonies was within local parishes and the ceremonies were often similar to the older ceremonies that preceded Christianity. Not everyone was Christian so in that case they could just follow their old pagan ceremonies. Outside Christianity and around the world there have been a multitude of ways for men and women to get married based on tradition, but very rarely any tradition for same-sex marriage. Why would all these wedding traditions have arisen in every society on earth? Consider the Australian aboriginal tribes. They had far more complex arrangements than we do today. They tried to match husband and wife base on ‘skin group’ which they inherited from the combination of the skin groups of their respective parents. The rules were probably there to eliminate in-breeding and maintain the health of the tribe. There was also a ceremonial aspect. Because every aboriginal language group had their own variation on these laws, it’s logically possible to say that their traditional different-sex marriage customs must be at least 60,000 years old and those traditions had come with them when they arrived in Australia.

Today’s demands for same-sex marriage.

It seems to me there is no long-standing tradition of same-sex marriage in any culture, past and present. Homosexuality is just part of the nature of certain individuals and a civilised society must treat each member as unique yet equal, while according everyone the same dignity, respect and compassion. If gay couples are being treated with disrespect, being victimised or mistreated then we should have, and I believe we now do have, laws to redress that.

Amazingly, it was our laws as recently as 30-60 years ago, that used to take away gay people’s dignity or even put them in prison. It was these laws that forced young gay men and women into the closet. Now a change in the law is being demanded to again apply rules and regulations on the behaviour of young gay people in relationships, this time coming from the gay people themselves. That seems pretty ironic, but that is what gay people say that they want.

The lack of an historical precedent in tradition raises a big question. If, even before there were laws, even before there were powerful religions, there never developed a sustained tradition of same-sex marriage, where has the extremely strong movement for change that we see today come from? And it is quite a phenomenon considering it will eventually affect a small proportion of a small percentage of the population. Why so strong a call for this change? Why are those who question the idea treated so disdainfully and classified as hate-speakers and homophobes? I could only speculate.

Could it be that people who have a deep concern for the welfare of gay people have decided to put their resources behind such a change in the law in order that gay people regain their status in society? That doesn’t really seem necessary as there are openly gay ministers in government, CEOs, TV hosts, journalists and respected judges who don’t seem to suffer from being gay in the first place. If they are in a long-term relationships there is no public outrage. Stats show that gay couples have higher incomes than their straight counterparts. Would redefining marriage to include them in ‘marriages’ make their lives better? I can’t see it.

But surely everyone would be for ‘marriage-equality’? If you aren’t for marriage equality then you are stealing hope from every young gay person who wants to find acceptance in a world full of prejudice. If you aren’t for marriage equality then you are denigrating the value of each gay person’s relationship, implying they are second-rate. These are highly charged words, very emotive.

And then there are the children

What about the children? At first, I never saw this as an issue because there wouldn’t be any. Traditional marriage has principally been about having children although unfortunately, not all are given the gift of a new life and not all parents do a good job.

When I first heard about same-sex marriage I imagined two people living together and sharing their childless lives. But why on earth would a gay couple go through an unnecessary process that restricts their freedom? Why not just continue to live together? But I keep hearing references to children. Adoption is already happening without marriage. But this is where it starts to get weird. There are many childless couples in different-sex marriages who already have trouble adopting babies. Where will the children come from for this new group? If means are found for each same-sex couple to have children to raise then that seems to open the door for some creative procreation. Such experimenting with human life and young children would definitely be a travesty of the highest order. The children would be the ones to suffer from such arrangements, many of which would be illegal anyway.


After thinking this issue through, I feel I haven’t really nailed why same-sex marriage is something that the nation should support. I really want gay couples to be happy. If a ‘yes’ vote and eventually changes to the marriage laws, make them happier then that would be great. So that’s why I’m voting ‘yes’? No. Laws are rarely made to make various groups in society happy. On the other hand, our laws should not make people unhappy. Am I aligning myself with the nasty, conservative, gay-haters? No. Such a group doesn’t exist in the world I mix with, I don’t know any of those people or listen to them on radio. Of course, just a handful of those can do a lot of damage. But I have also seen a man being pilloried on social media after putting forward a polite and well-reasoned case for ‘no’.

So here is how it lines up.

  • I really have a feeling that the same-sex marriage debate has been hijacked by others (basically extreme left wing socialists) to achieve other aims, partly by breaking down a traditional pillar of our society, the traditional family.
  • I feel that it’s illogical to restrict the freedom of same-sex relationships by applying to them an old tradition that is inappropriate to their needs. Is there a better solution?
  • It also seems premature to introduce two new groups to the very old tradition of marriage at this time. Different-sex couples waited over 60,000 years before their relationships were controlled by Australian law. (That’s around 2500 generations!) Let’s move slowly and without so much angst towards a solution that meets everybody’s needs.
  • If same-sex couples are really desperate that the government becomes the third man (or woman) in their relationship then what we need is new tradition that recognises their legitimate and loving relationship. But it can be a strictly civil arrangement that doesn’t complicate things by upsetting a large minority to satisfy a very small minority.




It’s what Malcolm had always dreamed of

Let’s imagine this scenario.

Young Bruce meets Malcolm’s parents for the first time at dinner. After dinner, Bruce pulls Malcolm’s dad aside for a minute. “Sir, I know you don’t know me very well but I love Malcolm very much and I was hoping that you would give your blessing to us getting married. I promise I will look after him and I hope to make him the happiest bloke in the world.”

But Malcolm’s father says he thinks Malcolm is too young to get married and refuses. Malcolm hears what is happening. “You never think about my happiness!” he says. Bruce shepherds Malcolm away under the scornful stare of the father and the tearful gaze of Malcolm’s mum.

In defiance, Malcolm moves in with Bruce, without the benefit of marriage. At the church service the next Sunday, the priest has to refuse communion to Malcolm and Bruce, and gives them a blessing instead. This doesn’t go unnoticed by some of the parishioners and soon a muted muttering goes around the congregation. “Living in sin.”  “Living in sin.” Malcolm’s mother is mortified when the words reach her ears.

It’s all too much for Malcolm’s father. He relents. “I’ll agree to the wedding,” he says later in the church car park, “but not until you two have got a proper home of your own. A time like this is not a time for living in a sleazy flat in the inner city listening to jazz music on the phonograph.” Malcolm’s dad announces that, “I’ve got a few quid saved up and I’ve put a deposit on the place next door to us in Chester Hill. It’s yours.”

“Oh dad,” says Malcolm, almost overcome by tears, “It’s what I always dreamed of,” giving his father a big hug.

Cardinal Pell’s day in court

Cardinal Pell says he looks forward to his day in court. He believes he’s innocent and considers truth will prevail. He expects a speedy resolution and acquittal. Naive.

This naivety and the belief that truth will set him free is typical of some of his dealings with the Royal Commission. In those cases, his adherence to truth actually did him no favours. While lesser men would have embellished their evidence with feigned regret; embroidered their feelings or motivations in the past, Pell was brutally honest about himself, e.g. “It (stories of priests molesting children) was not something that attracted my attention.” Commentators never gave him credit for his utter devotion to the truth despite it making him appear aloof, callous, cold and lacking empathy.

But again, Pell thinks that his devotion to the truth will spare him. It’s not that simple!

The forces that have been chasing the Church (with good justification, one might add) for many years, are not interested in truth anymore, though they may feign sympathy for victims. In fact, the causes of the victims are part of a much bigger agenda.

Pell seems to be assuming that the reason that these charges have been raised are because the victims are mistaken or they are lying. In either case he seems to think that it is just a matter for him to refute the accusations, speak the truth and all will be settled; case closed!

Are those behind these accusations – not the victims but those who are promoting them – going to settle for Pell’s truth? Establishing truth after twenty, forty, fifty years is far from simple and they know that. They don’t need to find the truth, just undermine trust in Pell’s testimony. They don’t even need to challenge the content of Pell’s testimony, just the way he presents it. They really only need to show Pell’s indifference to the victims and they will have won. Besides that, they will be happy for the truth to be obscured, to be tainted with ambiguity, insinuation, to be muddied by subtle half-truths and inferences. They haven’t come thus far to fail. They will have plenty of cards to play and a few aces up their sleeves. They don’t intend to lose now.