I have yet to hear or read a satisfactory reason as to why a same-sex couple does not have all the rights enjoyed by a straight couple. On the one hand the legal system demands that all Australians should be spared discrimination due to race, gender, sexual orientation, political views or religion but on the other hand, the law itself discriminates against gays in Australia.
Let me cover the arguments that I have heard against gay marriage:
(1) It’s not natural:
I have two major issues with such a statement. Firstly, what is considered natural? If one is viewing sex as a means of procreation, then same-sex intercourse would not produce a surplus of children. However, sex is far more than simple procreation and few people today view sex as solely for this purpose. Sex is also for physical pleasure. What gives physical pleasure to some may not arouse others. The act of oral sex is also unlikely to provide one with a large family but many heterosexual couples seem to enjoy it, with over half of all teens in America having tried it according to the Washington Post, (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/15/AR2005091500915.html ).
Also kissing with the involvement of tongues has yet to produce a single pregnancy despite millions having tried with their partners.
Secondly, the judgment is irrelevant to the issue of gay marriage and is more a reflection of the objector’s view on homosexuality.
Therefore the argument “it’s not natural” is not only irrelevant to the debate on gay marriage, it is a poor argument for the debate on homosexuality, (an argument that is already lost due to anti-discrimination laws that already exist in Australia).
(2) Marriage is a sacred institution of love between a man and a woman under god:
There are two versions of this one, with and without god. As I will deal with the religious arguments later on, I will not cover this in great detail here. Suffice it to say that my wife and I were married in a garden ceremony without the influence of religion or the church and we hold a valid Australian marriage certificate.
For the second version, (the one without the god bit), I will focus on the word sacred. The same argument often interchanges this word with “tradition”. But in the interest of avoiding repetition, I will stick to “sacred”. Ignoring all the religious connotations of the word, I will focus on the definitions that describe “sacred” as “dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person” and “worthy of respect; venerable”, ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sacred ). While I agree with the second statement, history disagrees with the first.
Variations of the one man, one woman marriage litter history. Up until 1967, a black person could not marry a white person. This was an accepted and sacred marriage institution. The Supreme Court declared that this was a fundamental breach of human rights and unconstitutional and was correct in this judgement.
At one time in history, divorce was not allowed, at other points it has been. In some cultures polygamy is the norm, in others underage marriage is the everyday. The point is that marriage is not sacred as it is interchangeable to suit the needs of a culture. And in our tolerant, free and fair culture that respects the privacy of others, marriage between two consenting adults should be easy to accept. Marriage traditions are constantly changing, often for frivolous reasons, (the colour of the dress, the location, the order of speeches etc). There is no better reason to change a tradition than to grant a person a fundamental human right presently denied them.
(3) Gay parents will produce gay children:
While not an argument for or against gay marriage, this statement is often used as ammunition in such debates. Put simply, straight parents cannot produce gay or straight children, gays cannot produce gay or straight children. Sexual preference is not taught, it is felt internally. Show me hundreds of gay magazines over twenty years and I will still manage to be aroused at the first glimpse of Playboy. The people who bluster that “I’ll never be gay”, can’t seem to realise that the same applies to gays: “I’ll never be straight.” Both statements are true, (although what one says and what one feels can often be quite different).
(4) We have to draw a line somewhere…if gays marry what’s to stop polygamy or bestiality?
We already do. The laws involving sexual activity are clear: that they may only involve consenting adults. This also applies to marriage with the proviso that the consenting adults be a man and a woman. Drop the proviso and the laws remain the same without having a negative effect on anyone.
(5) Marriage would lose all its meaning and importance:
It has never been established that anyone would devalue their own marriage if gays were allowed the right or that gays do not value marriage. I personally cannot remember uttering the vow “till death do us part or till gays are giving the right to marry in which case the deal’s off”. How ridiculous. The fact that gays are willing to go through a cauldron of bigotry to achieve their goal should give a clear indication to the importance that most in the gay community place in marriage.
(6) Real marriages produce children:
I challenge anyone who espouses this rubbish to tell an infertile couple, an elderly couple or couples simply exercising their right not to have children, that their marriage certificates are invalid.
(7) All the child-related arguments:
Arguments such as “children need a male and female role model” are not only irrelevant because they do not directly refer to gay marriage for the above reason, but also because they ignore reality. Children of gay parents do not grow up in a single sex social vacuum. They have uncles, aunts, grandparents, teachers, friends, work mates and sports team mates among others. Each of these provides opportunities for role models of both genders, even in the unlikely event that the parents do not provide both themselves.
So maybe I should stop pussy footing around here and get to the root of the opposition to gay marriage.
(8) The bible says it’s wrong, it’s against the word of god etc:
Granted, there is one and only one circumstance where I would back the religious and that is if the gay couple intended to marry in a church against the rules of the particular religion. My advice to gays who are Christian and find barriers to their union…drop Christianity and use reason and logic as your guide.
Otherwise my answer would be…who cares? To this statement, government must reply: “we respect your opinion but frankly this issue has nothing to do with religion”.
If a couple, gay or straight, who have never been religious and have never cared for the opinion of the church, want to marry without religious involvement, why on earth does the church think that they suddenly care about the word of God?
This unwanted religious meddling is so obvious to most people that reasons 1-7 have been invented to disguise the religious agenda produced in reason 8.
Ultimately, what two consensual adults do with, to or for each other is nobody’s business but their own.
Why should non gays care?
As a straight man, some have questioned my interest in this issue. Well, put simply: I worry about my own freedoms when religion is allowed to influence government to deny basic freedoms to others. I wonder whether my right to be an atheist will be stripped away next or whether censorship laws will increase to include books by Darwin or Dawkins.
Whenever consenting, voting citizens are deprived of the rights that we take for granted, everyone should care.