This article was originally published at Australian website Online Opinion
“New Zealand has done it!”
“The sun will still rise!”
These are not arguments.
This should be obvious, but the aftermath of the New Zealand vote to redefine marriage has once again shown how the same-sex marriage lobby tends to ignore reason and arguments in favour of meaningless platitudes.
We have heard countless times the last few days that since New Zealand has legalised same-sex marriage, Australia must follow suit. I wonder how far people are willing to take this logic. For example, New Zealand has a very creative pronunciation of the letter ‘i’. Does this (or thus?) mean Australia should adopt their pronunciation?
New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson said that “the sun will still rise tomorrow” if we allow same-sex marriage. Well, yes, most people would concede that. But you see, if the best you can say about a policy is that the sun will still rise, it doesn’t reflect particularly well on the policy.
On our side of the ditch/dutch we heard New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell say that he now supports same-sex marriage, claiming that the idea that it would denigrate the institution of marriage was “utterly ridiculous.” Evidently, it wasn’t “utterly ridiculous” enough for him to risk speaking out about it during his previous 14 years in parliament. When a politician jumps on the bandwagon it does not make the case for same-sex marriage stronger.
It may encourage the usual chorus cry “it’s inevitable!” but again this is devoid of any intellectual substance. Firstly, it is very hard to know that something of this nature is inevitable, as opinions polls and social attitudes can change quickly. Secondly, and more importantly, it has no bearing on whether or not it is a good idea. We say that every impending disaster is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that we should support it.
In spite of all the rhetoric about inevitability and opinion polls on same-sex marriage, the reality remains that millions and millions of Australians do not support redefining marriage. The decision last year by Tony Abbott to ensure the Coalition voted together in favour of the current definition of marriage is representative of the views of a significant proportion of Australians, and almost certainly a majority of Coalition voters.
So why do so many Australians oppose same-sex marriage? It is important to note that most Australians had no problem at all with removing all practical discrimination against same-sex couples back in 2008. This shows that disagreement over same-sex marriage isn’t due so much to different views on same-sex couples as much as it is due to different views on marriage.
The current public purpose of marriage lies mainly in encouraging a man and a woman to look after their child when they have one. The social importance of mothering and fathering, as recognised by marriage, comes from thousands of years of human experience across most cultures. Obviously, there are other important aspects of marriage, but the link to children is the only logical reason for government to remain involved in the institution. The point is no logical alternative view has been offered, other than to deregulate marriage altogether.
That is, the new proposed definition of marriage, a union between any two consenting adults, raises lots of new questions about the purpose of marriage. Why does a marriage have to be a sexual relationship, as opposed to a platonic relationship such as between siblings? Or between life-long friends? What is the justification for government regulation of adult personal relationships? If tradition and a link to children are not the basis of marriage, then what is? Why are polyamorous relationships excluded from the institution if it is just about love? To date, these questions have not been addressed. Meaningless platitudes about “equality” have become a substitute for in-depth discussion about what marriage is.
The current definition of marriage has a very deep cultural, social, and religious significance for many people, who understandably object to replacing it for no practical reason with a new definition which no one wants to explain.