Monday, July 2, 2012

Marriage is so gay

Marriage is so gay.

It's interesting that we struggle so much to bring the words 'gay' and 'marriage' together, given how much the word 'gay' and concept of marriage have both changed over time.

So many words have already been spent on this topic, but still the debate goes round in circles. It's damn frustrating because there doesn't seem to be a single argument against equal marriage that isn't misguided, prejudicial and/or fear-based.

Marriage has changed significantly over thousands of years as society evolved, and it ought to reflect our social values and human rights. Currently, it does not.

Why do I, as a heterosexual. care so much? Not just because many of the far-fetched arguments are an abuse of creativity, but also because of my interest in mental health.

By denying equal marriage we are essentially saying non-heterosexual relationships are inferior, less legitimate and/or less natural, which reinforces prejudice. Young people, in particular, are vulnerable to mental health consequences, including suicide. And it is completely unnecessary.

By embracing equal marriage we would embrace tolerance and maybe encourage greater acceptance and understanding across the community. Rather than being a threat to impressionable children, legalising same-sex marriage may just help some of them feel accepted and comfortable in who they are - possibly saving lives.
I like equal marriage and Jen Hawkins

Like many other issues of progress (such as Australia becoming a republic) that are bogged down in the irrational fear of change, equal marriage will happen eventually and already has popular support, so we're wasting time by getting bogged down in a nonsense debate.

Let's just do it and move on, as a more tolerant nation, to other issues. Even the angry bigots left behind can enjoy relief, no longer having to hear about it.

Taking just a quick look at the most common arguments highlights that it is fear, rather than values, that underpin them:

Marriage is about starting a family
That may partly explain why the ritual originated thousands of years ago, but it's clearly not a key criteria any longer, given the number - and our acceptance - of married heterosexual couples who cannot have, or do not want, children.

A child needs a mother and a father
To my mind this is the only argument that deserves to be taken seriously; and I think it does, because as shit as it is to tell a gay couple they are an inferior parenting option, I can see the flicker of logic through the dense fog of bigotry.

In fact, I agree that ideally a child has a mother and a father - in circumstances where all else was exactly equal - simply because men and women are different and I think it's a good thing to be exposed to life lessons from both sides of the human race. 

But all things are rarely, if ever, equal. Not all  fathers are 'manly men', not all mothers are 'traditionally effeminate'. We're all different, but that's a strength. The parents will not be the only influences in the child's life. And there are too many other variables that could indicate how good a parent someone will be - health, education, wealth, ability to care for the child and spend time with them, etc - to discriminate on sexuality. Many children have only one parent - surely a second is beneficial regardless of gender?

Anyone who saw Penny Wong speak about her family on QandA would be hard pressed to credibly argue that her child will have an inferior upbringing to the children of Joe Hockey, who had just insinuated as such in his defence of the 'traditional' family - whatever that is. 

It's a moot point anyway when discussing same-sex marriage because same-sex couples, such as Senator Wong and her partner, can already adopt and raise children. Although perhaps not for much longer in Queensland.

The definition of marriage is between a man and a woman, that's just what it is
Well, unless you believe Adam and Eve were the first married couple, you would probably accept the anthropological view that marriage has been around in some form for at least 4000 years.

It has changed dramatically over the centuries, as it should as we as a society change. Initially it was about protecting blood lines and had nothing to do with love. Ancient Hebrew law required a widow to marry her deceased husband's brother.

In fact, we wouldn't even be breaking new ground by allowing same-sex marriage - the Romans were doing it in the 4th century. So who's definition exactly are we going by?

This argument is nothing more than a cop-out from a fearful, closed mind, refusing to have their view of the world challenged.

They can have a Civil Union, why isn't that good enough?
Because it is condescending and says reinforces negative perceptions of homosexuality.

The Bible says...
Ok, no. 

The Bible says a lot of shit. It advocates stoning a woman to death if she falsely claims to be a virgin when she marries. Few Christians - hopefully none - would hold this view now because society has progressed.

Also, we live in a secular society where marriage is presided over primarily by government. 

Jesus never condemned homosexuality, but did preach tolerance and love. 

The Church are welcome to hold onto prejudice, but in secular society we have to champion non-discrimination.

If we legalise marriage between homosexuals, what's to stop people wanting to marry their daughters, brothers or pets? Or all of them!

Now the conservative is just yelling gibberish while blocking their ears to stop the infectious truth.

The slippery slope. Letting homosexuals marry will open the door to the all sorts of unions and the breakdown of society. Au contraire. By legalising same-sex marriage we continue to put misguided injustices behind us.

This argument is the true measure of fear. The fanciful, irrelevant 'what if's. It's not even an argument against same-sex marriage itself anymore. I'm familiar with the anxiety-inducing effect of baseless 'what if's; letting them go is liberating experience.

And, not that it really needs addressing, but the fear is baseless. Not only is there no actual push for the right to marry within family, including the pet, but there are sound reasons not to allow it. Simply, the illegality of incest and bestiality is firmly grounded in biological and ethical reasoning. So no, that won't be happening.

As for polygamy, that's more of a grey area but there's no reason to believe group marriages would be legalised in our lifetime. It's an entirely different situation. Maybe someday it will be legal, who knows what society will be like in a few hundred years (if we make it that long), but massive shifts would need to take place first, and it would need popular support, so who cares if that happens one day? Hell, we can't even get legal same-sex marriage with majority community support.

From the first marriages thousands of years ago, the purpose and meaning of the ritual has changed dramatically. We should define for what marriage means for us as Australians in 2012. I think most people would say it's primarily about the love and commitment between a couple. That's good progress from the original purpose, I think, so embrace it. Although, we can't really stop people who don't love each other from doing it too.

Same-sex couples are fighting to have their love recognised equally. Jesus taught love and tolerance, yet supposed followers of his, like the Australian Christian Lobby are fighting against both. I know which side I want to be on, and which side Jesus would probably support.

Heterosexuals haven't been doing a great job of respecting marriage in recent decades, so who are we to deny homosexuals a chance?

It's a chance to celebrate more love, and God knows we need as much in the world as we can get these days.

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