Margaret Court’s comments provoke predictable responses

I don’t think much of what Margaret Court has been saying lately, but my earlier blog predicted the reaction to it (21/9/2016.) You can’t express an opinion on some subjects without invoking a fury of indignation and reprisals. Her opinions are out of the mainstream now but they were well inside the mainstream when she was a champion tennis player. I applaud her for sticking her neck out.

In this world, people have beliefs based on what they have been taught or grown up with. Other people have newer, more fashionable ideas. Who’s right? Are we making progress or going around in circles? Once we took half-caste children from their mothers and took children from their unmarried mothers. We thought it right then, but we think it wrong now no matter how unsuitable the parents prove to be.

It’s a very strange world today in many ways. In recent times you have seen the anguish of victims of molestation at the hands of Catholic clergy and other institutional abuse – young people put into harms way by the institutions that were supposed to protect them. But if someone would now question the right of gay couples to adopt children they would be hounded down as homophobic! They would be the worst kind of bigoted, narrow minded, reactionary troglodytes.

Recently my employer’s homepage was actively promoting a gay male couple who were raising a pair of boys. Of course, a pair of loving gay men can raise two boys without harming them, but then we once thought that priests were beyond reproach, too.

Today, people have the right to live their lives fairly freely without the law interfering. Consenting adults can do anything, which is the way it should be. But children, who gives consent for them? Why is it always children that we choose to experiment with?

 

Unwarranted pressure

I feel pressured by those promoting marriage equality. I find their arguments are fallacious and their attitudes condescending, intolerant and judgmental. One argument is the government should change the law to allow people to live with the person they love. That is not the issue. In Australia today people are free to be with and live with whoever they want. There is no law against it.

I am getting the feeling that those proposing “marriage equality” are merely trying to divide the country. They seem intent on labelling those who would not immediately jump on the bandwagon, changing thousands of years of tradition, as being homophobic and bigoted. Even starting a discussion is enough to get one attacked by the head-shakers.

So I have come to the conclusion that the only reason there are so many people pushing this issue is not actual concern for gay people in relationships but rather a way to get in the face of religious leaders and conservative politicians. This issue-of-the-day will one day be replaced by some other issue that serves the same purpose when it suits them. Their aim is to undermine the establishment by whatever means they can find.

Let’s just revisit the matter of marriage laws. Marriage laws were enacted only within the past 500 years or so, to regularise practices that had existed in tradition and religious observance for thousands of years. Those traditions and ceremonies were exclusively related to man-woman relationships. Any exceptions are so rare and short-term as to be irrelevant.

Civil marriage laws became necessary because of several things, mainly the inequality of wealth and power of men and women, legitimacy of offspring, succession and inheritance of titles and wealth and the division of wealth at the time of divorce. Little of this, aside from divorce, is relevant to same-sex relationships.

Those arguing for same-sex marriage are therefore saying that we should overturn thousands of years of traditions, to change what was exclusively man-woman to include man-man and woman-woman relationships under the label of “marriage equality.” I’m all for equality, but we must always acknowledge that while we may wish for equality some things can never be “the same.” A homosexual relationship is not the same as a heterosexual relationship. There is no pretending that they are the same. Heterosexual relationships result in babies in most cases. Babies come from heterosexual relationships in all cases. Without wanting to sound elitist that is a big difference.

So, if not the same, where does “equality” come in? One argument I heard concerned the wish to use the term “next of kin” after a long-term relationship. If so, we can change whatever law concerns “next of kin.” In recent years, many laws have been changed to ensure that partners in same-sex de-facto relationships have equal rights to hetero relationships, whether or not de-facto or official.

Some heterosexual relationships never proceed to marriage. The partners choose not to go through the bother of a ceremony. They live together, have children and continue their lives. What is different to a traditional marriage? Not much.

So my unfortunate opinion is that we are all being taken for a ride by those who seek to undermine society as we know it and that those gay couples who impose on their relationships the rules of marriage are wasting their time.

Same-sex marriage

No one wants to be seen to be against same-sex marriage. That’s the main reason why I say I’m in favour of it. But, in fact, I can see only two good reasons why we should introduce same-sex marriage – because it will make people happy and it will stop all this nonsense about it. To give those people whose preferred partner in life is of the same sex a feeling of acceptance and legitimacy is surely worthwhile.  This is the sentimental argument.

But does it really warrant a change in the law? The only argument about gay marriage that stands up to scrutiny is basically the sentimental one, because if you get away from the emotional argument there is no real justification for the government to pass laws that extend marriage laws to encompass same-sex unions.

The first thing a lawmaker would want to be sure of when passing a law is whether it is necessary, and you can easily argue that there is no need for a government to have laws about how people live their lives in their own homes and with people they love. This is one area in which we have very few laws for good reason.

Laws restrict what we can do.

Try to think of any law that permits behaviour or gives freedom. Any spring to mind? Come on. there must be one! Actually, no. Normally we start with freedom and then we pass laws to restrict it. Today, people have the right to live their lives freely with whoever they like precisely because we removed discriminatory laws. There were laws about gay relationships fifty years ago, and they were not very nice. Thankfully they have been removed. The justification for removing those laws was that the law should not interfere in people’s private lives. The same applies today. People can live their lives freely without any laws, what purpose do the laws play?

But we do have laws for heterosexual marriage. If there is no need for laws about gay marriage why do we have marriage laws at all? Good question, and in fact, many young couples eschew actual marriage and just live and have children with their sexual partner. That choice has become possible  because the original factors that led governments to make marriage laws are often no longer relevant.

I was reading about marriage laws and they have been around for a few hundred years. Before that, people did not have legally enforcing state laws about marriage but they did have traditional ceremonies to celebrate unions and people were expected to abide by their choice and generally stay with their chosen partner. In those days, women had little power, and went from being dependent on their families to being dependent on their husband. With no power of their own, women were given by their family to another family and their original family wanted some assurance that their daughter was to be looked after. It was the inequality of power that made traditional marriage such an important ceremony. Marriages were a key part of maintaining social coherence by the continuation of family lines through legitimate children and subsequent inheritance of wealth and titles.

Every ancient society had marriage ceremonies but there were never any gay marriage ceremonies. They would have been pointless. The fairly recent laws about marriage merely codified what society had been doing for years. But the laws don’t mention anything about love – far from it.

The main reasons for laws around marriage were because of the inequality of power  between the sexes,  the legitimacy of offspring and the inheritance of wealth and titles and divorce.

So the basis for supporting gay marriage laws is very tenuous. The first two reasons are completely irrelevant. If the sexes are the same then the sexes are equal; if the sexes are the same then there are no offspring; if there are no offspring then legitimacy is not a question and the inheritance of wealth and titles is likewise redundant. Of course, there is divorce. You can see that serves a purpose for the division of community property. So the only non-sentimental reason for gay marriage laws is divorce. Is that what people are fighting for? Ask Stephen Fry whether his recent marriage had a prenuptial agreement and you will see how the last surviving valid reason also falls.

One argument is that marriage laws that exclude gay marriage are unfair and discriminatory. This argument is also fallacious. I may have a licence for my dog but I can’t have a licence for my cat . Is this discriminating against cats? Since no one is stopping gay people living together, is a law that binds them together legally relevant?

So my unfortunate opinion is that gay marriage legislation is pointless and an unnecessary restriction on the lives of gay people who choose to undertake it. In ten or twenty years from now there will be no gay marriages because those undertaking them will realise that they are really taking on the burden of regulating their lives according to a set of rules designed for other people in other circumstances with no relevance for their own lives.