The Australian newspaper today declared its pragmatic opposition to same-sex marriage. With Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (who wrote its editorials once upon a time), it regards the current campaign as a fad. “Marriage is not a right,” the paper contends. “It is among other things a contractual set of obligations attached to the raising of a family”.

Furthermore, it is a policy demanded by a very small minority which is fiercely opposed by other minorities. “We must be cautious too of elevating the sensitivities of one minority group above those of others. Same-sex marriage is not easily embraced by Islamic and other non-Western cultures where loyalty to family and tradition trump Western notions of liberties and rights.”

This is not exactly a repudiation of same-sex marriage; in fact, it is merely a “I’m busy; ring back on Monday” sort of argument. But at least it puts the paper on record as opposing one of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s central policies as the September 7 election approaches.

However, the editorial does a great service in drawing attention to how rapidly politicians’ views on gay marriage have shifted. Did you remember, for instance, that former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, a genius at invective, sneered that two blokes and a cocker spaniel do not make a family? Those were the bad old days, before the current PM introduced a kinder, gentler style of politics

But the prize exhibit is a 1999 speech in Federal Parliament by Senator Brian Greig, the first openly homosexual member of the Australian Parliament. Senator Brian Harradine had posed the question, “is the phrase ‘equal treatment of same sex couples’ based on the proposition that homosexual relationships should receive the approval of the government and the parliament of Australia as being of the same status as marriage?”

In other words, will the demand for civil partnerships lead to the demand for same-sex marriage?

Absolutely not, said Senator Greig. The very idea! How ill-informed! Hmmm. Here are his words:

“In my 10 years as an advocate and an activist with Australia’s gay and lesbian community, I have never met one lesbian or gay person who wants gay marriage. In fact, my experience is that the vast majority of gay and lesbian citizens do not support the notion of marriage as it currently stands because they see it as a very heterosexual and outdated institution that should be modified and not copied…

“Senator Harradine suggests that, if we support the notion of same sex couples in a regulatory way, that is putting same sex couples on the same platform as those who are married. I do not believe it is and I do not believe that gay and lesbian people are asking for that.”

This trip down memory lane ought to make Australians very sceptical of the avowals of the same-sex marriage lobby. Nothing will change, there will be no pressure put on churches, no indoctrination in schools, no discrimination against opponents…

Remember: a mere 14 years ago, the country’s most prominent homosexual declared that the notion of same-sex marriage was absurd because marriage was an antediluvian institution. So, if we get same-sex marriage, is the abolition of marriage itself the next step? It’s a question worth asking. 

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.