Some months ago I somewhat reluctantly wrote on the subject of gay marriage. I argued at the time that the agenda of the gay lobby was not simply marriage equality but that the lobby (not individual gays) was preparing for an assault on religion. My concern has been borne out by an article by Dennis Altman, an internationally renowned academic and gay activist. In “Queer push for marriage”, which appeared recently in the Australian Financial Review, Altman makes it clear that the real target for the gay lobby is religion.
The battle lines are drawn early in Altman’s piece. He states unequivocally that the obstacle to marriage equality in Australia is the large number of Catholics in both of Australia’s major Liberal and Labor political parties, who might stop legislation in favour of it even on a free (or conscience) vote in the Federal and State parliaments. Altman says: “In Australia, the combination of National Party MPs and the Catholic strength in both major parties might prevent legislation passing, even if the Liberals have a free vote.”
Perhaps New South Wales’ Premier Barry O’Farrell is being Machiavellian in allowing a conscience vote for his Liberal Party on the issue, knowing that it has little chance of passing through both houses of the State Parliament; and then, even if it did, that it would become subject to a High Court battle given the Federal Marriage Act which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. You’ve got to watch those Irish Catholics!
Sadly, I have to say that even as a Catholic I do not share Altman’s faith in my co-religionist members of the Liberal and Labor parties. Like most modern day politicians they will lead from behind and do what the polls, and not necessarily the Pope, tell them to do.
But let’s get back to Altman’s piece. He interestingly starts out with an attack on the institution of marriage itself as a major reason to allow gay marriage. Altman says:
“But this debate is only possible because of huge shifts that have taken place in the larger meaning of marriage over the past few decades. It has moved from being regarded as a lifetime commitment, sanctified by God, with the purpose of producing children, to a more relaxed commitment based on mutual love and respect, with the recognition that something like 40 per cent of marriages will end in divorce.”
The argument means that if marriage is not what it used to be about, if traditional marriage is failing, let’s open it up for gays as well. If this argument holds any water it should, by logical extension, also open up a debate on polygamy and even group marriage as legitimate forms of marriage that should be recognised by law. Indeed, given the high numbers of Muslims in contemporary Australian society, why not legalise polygyny? The argument is of course patently absurd: “traditional marriage is fractured so lets smash it and remake it as something else”.
Wouldn’t it be more logical to ask why 40 percent of marriages fail and to then look for solutions to the problems that exist. Otherwise we are likely to end up with all kinds of arrangements being allowed to pass as marriage because the concept of marriage has become meaningless.
But I digress. Back to Altman.
Altman then moves to an attack on the argument that gays having children are against the natural order because improvements in IVF technology and surrogacy have made it possible for them to do so. He even says that given the scrutiny a gay couple has to go through to have children and the financial burden they take on in doing that means they are likely to be better parents than heterosexual couples who may have not planned a pregnancy.
No evidence of the claim is presented. This is sophistry at its best. The natural order has been defeated by science so the natural order should stand aside? Take this to its logical conclusion and science will always trump nature and all ethical and moral considerations could be set aside. “Science is right” becomes the modern day “might is right” maxim. A flood-gate for abortion, euthanasia, eugenics and who knows what else could be opened because science makes them possible; indeed the horse has already bolted on abortion. Euthanasia is not far behind.
But Altman’s real attack on religion comes when he says the case for gay marriage is “largely symbolic” because gay couples in Australia (and many other Western nations – the exception being the United States) already have full equal rights with heterosexual married couples. That is to say, gay couples in Australia have full access to all the social benefits that are provided to married and de facto heterosexual couples. That means there is no material need for marriage equality. There is no case on the grounds of material discrimination.
Strangely, Altman even argues against the need for gay marriage, saying “[t]here is sometimes an unpleasant self-indulgence to the glorification of marriage” and that he is “concerned by talk of monogamy from young men in love” when, he says, “available research” tells us they are unlikely to be monogamous.
Altman is actually not an advocate for gay marriage – or indeed any marriage. This old activist of the 1960s is actually against the institution of marriage itself. Indeed, Altman argues that “emotional fidelity is not the same as sexual fidelity” and claims that marriage discriminates against those who choose to live outside its bonds.
This has passed beyond mere sophistry; Altman has entered the realm of the truly absurd. If genius really is the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory points of view, Altman should undoubtedly be initiated to the ranks of the Mensa Society.
But I suspect he is just another high-IQ moron. Nonetheless, his (and the gay lobby’s) true agenda is exposed.
The real agenda for Altman is not marriage equality but rather what he sees as religious “bigotry”. The gay lobby’s marriage equality campaign is a campaign to force religions to fall silent on the issue of homosexuality. Altman says in no uncertain terms that “The exemptions from anti-discrimination laws given to churches to preach bigotry – and the existence of the school chaplaincy programs, which are sometimes run by fundamentalist churches – seem to me of greater concern [than marriage equality].”
No doubt individual gays hoping for a big wedding not part of the conspiracy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a conspiracy.
Let’s not mince words: this is an affront on the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – which see homosexuality as a sin. Ultimately the gay lobby would like them to be forced to stop promoting this view and to allow those actively engaging in homosexuality to be allowed into their places of worship. Next will be to force the three monotheistic religions to allow gays to marry in their churches, synagogues and mosques.
Altman’s argument is wrapped up in concerns about school bullying and the high rate of suicide amongst young homosexuals. But this doesn’t mean we need laws to force religions to fall silent on matters of critical importance to their faiths. Yes, bullying is wrong and no life should ever be lost because of it. Pass laws against bullying to protect individuals and their right to make moral choices, and enforce those laws more strictly to ensure bullying ceases. But we need also to protect the fundamental right of religions and the individuals who adhere to them to believe in the precepts of their faiths and to be able to preach those beliefs openly.
The real risk of course, the paradox of modern society, is that the argument for tolerance on a wide range of minority issues, such as homosexuality (yes, it is still only practiced by a minority), is leading to greater intolerance towards the majority. By shutting down the rights of religions and their followers we would actually become a less tolerant society. Religions and individuals who oppose certain beliefs and practices will become the persecuted – ironically, their right to freedom of speech would be sacrificed on the altar of tolerance.
(All this reminds me of an episode of the popular television comedy series 30 Rock in which the characters form a group called “National Association for Zero Intolerance” or “NAZI” to stop a range of perceived intolerances.)
When religious organisations and individuals are told to remain silent on certain aspects of their beliefs we will be living under a new form of totalitarianism. That ultimately is where the debate for gay marriage is headed.
If gay marriage is an inevitability, as I suspect it is, but only because it will be foisted upon us by the vociferous gay lobby and the acceptance of an apathetic majority, it is imperative that the rights of religions to promote their beliefs continue to be protected. Otherwise we are inching our way towards a world in which certain thoughts could be defined as crimes.
Alistair Nicholas is a public affairs professional who works with Australia’s federal and state governments. This article has been reproduced with permission from his personal blog, SpeechCrime.