“We need more rope!”

Why does marriage exist in the first place? Marriage exists because men and women produce offspring. Without that simple fact, marriage would not exist. Marriage is unnecessary except for that fact. Society has depended on and nurtured the institution of marriage to provide certainty around the birth of children.

Story: A man visited a mountain kingdom where the people built rope bridges between the peaks so that they could trade with their neighbours. The man returned to his village on the plains and retold his stories. The people were puzzled and dismayed as they looked across the plains. “We need more rope!” they said.

Marriage between men and women has developed in every almost society on Earth for the entire history of man, and long before that, as a way to ensure the continuation of the tribe, the society, the culture. There are some minor exceptions, like the Naxi ethnic group in Yunnan province of China that refrains from marriage. In general though, marriage has been integral in the development of society and civilisation.

Story: The man who had visited the mountains had a better plan. The next morning the villagers were busy digging a deep trench around their village.

The concept of marriage has always been about a man and woman. Gay couples in the past have definitely established long-term relationships but until just recently, no one has expressed a need or desire to call this marriage.

Story: Having built bridges across the trench around their village, the people set off to trade with their neighbours. “Why didn’t we think of this before?” they asked.

Apart from man and woman, other combinations of the two sexes (man and man or woman and woman) do not produce offspring, so their pairing is irrelevant to to the original concept of marriage. Marriage is often celebrated as the act of two loving people coming together but we all know that it is the bit where a child is conceived that makes this pairing so essential to society. So essential that in the last two or three centuries, after thousands of years of custom, tradition and, indeed, thousands of years of religious observance, marriage between man and woman has now become part of the law of most nations.

Story: When the people of the village reached the neighbouring towns and villages they were astonished at what they saw. “Where are your bridges?” they asked. “How can you trade with your neighbours without bridges?”

Why were national laws required around marriage? After all, it is not the place of government to decide who can pair up with whom. When the marriage laws were first written (in British law specifically) there was a big difference between the relative status of the sexes. Marriage, at that time, ensured the legitimacy of a man’s children, protected the woman and her children from exploitation and placed obligations on both the man and the woman. There was already a stigma attached to pre-marital relationships and bearing children “out-of-wedlock”. A woman on her own with children was in the worst possible position.

Story: The people hurried back to their village puzzled to know why other villages did not have trenches and bridges but could still trade with their neighbours. The man who had come back from the mountains was ready. He replied, “Those people haven’t learnt the truth, yet. They are living in the past. Come with me and we can show them the right way.”

So the laws that we have today are based on two basic premises that had been true in most societies in most ages, that women are disadvantaged and require protection, and that their children must be provided for by their father, her husband. These may seem rather quaint concepts today.

Story: The people of the village went out across the land showing everyone how to dig trenches and build bridges so that they could trade with their neighbours. They attested to the stories of the mountain people and their special bridges between the peaks.

Are traditional marriage laws that exist in Australia today applicable to same-sex relationships?

Many of the conditions that existed when the laws were originally written are no longer relevant even for man-woman relationships. Nowadays, women often have children without marriage and the state helps looks after them. Men and women often forego the wedding ceremony and just live together with their children and there is no problem. Women are most often not dependent on a man as they can earn a similar income, although there is still room for improvement. There remains the automatic presumption of fatherhood for the husband.

Story: In the surrounding villages, the people encountered some resistance to their ideas, but they ridiculed and shamed whoever disagreed, and soon all the villages and towns had accepted the truth that they needed trenches and bridges in order to trade with their neighbours.

The preconditions of the marriage laws are not present for same-sex relationships. Obviously there are no issues concerning a mismatch of power between the sexes in the relationship, as both participants are the same sex. In same-sex relationships there are no natural offspring so the parentage of any children would need to be established by some other mechanism in any case. From a strictly logical point of view, same-sex relationships are irrelevant to the original tradition of marriage, and the laws that followed on from that tradition are irrelevant to any same-sex relationship. There is also no social pressure on gay people to marry before they cohabit, so it’s hard to see what is actually behind this push for change.

Story: Years later, a man who lived in the mountains went on a long journey. He came to the plains people’s villages. He asked them why they had trenches and bridges around their villages. They replied, “You should know better than us. After all, we learnt this from your people. It is so we can trade with our neighbours.”

The push for same-sex marriage has been pursued as if a society that doesn’t accept their demands is a society rejecting them altogether. That’s not an appropriate or logical extension. Same-sex couples are already free to have their relationships which are personal and can be just as valid as any relationship without the need for the marriage laws.

Story: The mountain man looked exasperated. “Don’t you realise how we much we resent having to cross those bridges to make the simplest journey and how we envied you people on the plains. You could go anywhere without any hindrance! Couldn’t you be satisfied with living in your own way in your own place?” 

Perhaps, some time in the future, same-sex couples will realise that the campaign for same-sex marriage was really about something else. Then they won’t really care about marriage anymore.

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It’s official: Sun will rise in the West!

After countless years of being the last people to see the sunrise, and following a huge grass-roots movement to end the discrimination, a big change is coming for the people of the West (sometimes derogatorily referred to as Westies.)  The government is preparing legislation that will soon see the sun rise in the West.

“This is a small step toward redressing years of discrimination,” said a spokesman for the Westies.

“The consequences of this significant global shift have not yet been adequately considered,” said a spokesman for the Traditional Sunrise Lobby, to widespread jeers and derision.

The Dilemma of the Constitution Writers

Since we didn’t have Australian citizens when the constitution was written the authors framing s44 needed to use the next best method, i.e. definition by exclusion. They couldn’t say ‘Australian-born’, as most prominent people, including themselves, were foreign-born. They could have said ‘British subjects’, but this was a declaration of a new nation and couldn’t be defined in terms of another nation. So they really had no choice but to define those eligible to be elected by excluding ‘foreigners.’ Since the Australian Citizenship Act, 1948, this section of the Constitution has become irrelevant, and the High Court should have ruled that way, since that time.

But the High Court, being vastly intelligent, and therefore capable of reading but apparently incapable of thinking, have decided that because a grandparent brought a person’s parent to Australia as a child and that country has subsequently decided that the grandchild is now eligible to be a citizen of that country, that person is now ineligible to stand for parliament. The High Court seems to think the founding fathers were idiots or nitpickers, determined to confound the democratic process.

The founding fathers would be tearing their hair out with rage. ‘No!’ they would be saying, ‘we didn’t mean that at all!. You’re being silly. Stop it!’

How do I PC my issues?

How does an issue become the subject of Political Correctness?

How can I have people tut-tutting and rolling their eyes, looking aside and shaking their heads about those who commit my pet hates?

Is there a committee? When do they meet? How do they make their decisions?

I’m pretty confused. Take religion, for example. I know that it is perfectly all right to criticise the Catholic Church, even if your argument is based on dodgy information or just plain bias. I understand that bit. Religions that want us to live in the past are fair game. But hold on, I also know that I must stand up for Islam, as people who criticise Islam are racists. I know that sexual harassment is bad. There, at least, there are no arguments. But I also know that I can’t criticise a woman who wears sexy clothes. That’s her prerogative. Actually, I should make no comments at all, that’s much safer. I know that there is no gender anymore, even though scientifically, except for some very rare congenital syndromes, you really can only be one sex or the other, forever. I also know that if someone wants to beat science and become the other sex then I must respect that. It’s only fair. These things I understand. What I don’t understand is why my issues aren’t in the mix.

I want to go to the committee and talk about my matters and see if I can get them on the agenda. Even a hidden agenda would suit me fine.

E.g. I want it to be seen as offensive and bad form for an ageing rock star to boast about his boozy, drug addled youth as if it was a badge of courage. He survived, but how many foolish youths are taken down the same path and didn’t survive following his example. He’s not a hero. (Apologies to B McF.)

I want it to be seen as offensive and politically incorrect to continually run down our country and abuse whoever’s running it while offering no useful alternatives, just slagging off and undermining even the most sincere attempts to resolve issues. By doing so, the naggers and naysayers on both sides have been holding this country back for years.

I want those who continually seek to divide the country by seemingly regretting our very existence, portraying us as illegitimate, racist and intolerant rather than celebrating our great successes, I want them to be held up to ridicule. Roll your eyes at that, why not!

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 and 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 personal 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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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

Thursday

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.

Friday

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]