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The twisted priorities of the same-sex marriage vote



Same-sex marriage, the government tells us, is not a first-order issue. And yet it has grown to become a controversy so monumental it has overshadowed even the prospect of nuclear war with North Korea.

ABC officeThe Liberal Party has been in crisis over reforming the Marriage Act since long before the last election. At an emergency meeting, the Liberals made good on their threat to implement their own nuclear option: a voluntary postal survey on same-sex marriage. 

The prime minister rightly points out that once upon a time, Bill Shorten was also in favour of a public vote. Polls have shown consistent majority support for same-sex marriage for over ten years, but LGBTI Australians have opposed a plebiscite they know they can win in order to protect the most vulnerable in their community from a poisonous No campaign. To their credit, Labor and the Nick Xenophon Team listened to the people directly affected by a plebiscite, and now oppose it too.

But Malcolm Turnbull has not listened. Asked why the government is doggedly sticking with the plebiscite policy, he said it was a matter of carrying out an election promise. ‘Strong leaders carry out their promises,’ he said, ‘Weak leaders break them. I'm a strong leader.’

It was a cruel and bitter promise. He knew it then and he knows it now.

Right on cue, self-appointed Christian spokespeople have jumped out of the gate with everything LGBTI Australians knew they would: Conflating gay sex with bestiality, calling children raised by same-sex parents a ‘new stolen generation’ and comparing the Yes campaign to Nazis.

For queer Christians like me this campaign is an especially difficult cross to bear. Our extended LGBTI family is asking why Christians are championing such a pointed attack on queer people. I don’t have an acceptable answer. What kind of cruel god must these people follow to do this to us? And why would you, a gay man, follow that god?

Of course since at least 2011, average Christians have tended to support civil same-sex marriage too, but they have evacuated the public discourse, leaving room for cowboys who would hijack the gospel to prosecute their own political agenda.


"The postal survey isn’t binding—it was never meant to be. No matter who wins it will not satisfy either side."


As Penny Wong said just after the postal survey became a political reality, it wouldn’t hurt as much if the prime minister were prepared to stand up and defend vulnerable LGBTI people, but he is too busy. The same is true of the churches, whose deafening silence in response to what the No campaign has done in their name tells queer people everything they need to know about where they stand. What kind of reputational damage is this doing to our communities of faith?

For queer Christians, being caught in the crossfire of this culture war is a terrifying experience. You feel conspicuous and invisible all at the same time. You cause controversy simply by existing, yet people pretend you do not exist.

The postal survey isn’t binding - it was never meant to be. No matter who wins it will not satisfy either side.

To the Australian Christian Lobby and the conservatives within the Coalition, marriage is not about law or justice. For them it is elemental - an immutable Platonic form to which we strive to emulate as closely as possible via the shadow of our imperfect legislation. A relationship between two men or two women, or a couple where one or both members don’t fit neatly into the gender binary simply isn’t a marriage - just by virtue of what it is. They say marriage has existed before governments, and so the Australian government doesn’t have jurisdiction to alter it.

It means no matter how many religious exemptions are included in the legislation, and no matter how many surveys we take, or how resounding the Yes win could be, there is no form of this bill they will actually accept.

When the parliament was dominated by MPs who didn’t want reform, they insisted public opinion was irrelevant, and changing the Marriage Act was the parliament’s job. Then—miraculously—when the balance of opinion in that building shifted in favour of reform, it became a matter for the Australian people to decide.

The entire debate and process is a transparent farce.

Freedom of religion is an undergirding beam of a liberal, democratic society. That doesn’t just mean freedom to believe certain things, it means freedom to practise them, too. Changing the Marriage Act is no threat to this principle, and in fact expands religious freedom to those religious groups—including Christianswho would celebrate same-sex marriages not in spite of their faith, but because of it.

This postal survey is only a destructive force for all involved. A win for Yes will still take its toll on the psychological and emotional health of LGBTI people, and a win for the No campaign will be a pyrrhic victory which will seal their place as cruel and irrelevant in the minds of the public.

For God’s sake, scrap this vote.


Rohan SalmondRohan Salmond is a freelance journalist specialising in religion. He tweets at @RJSalmond. 

Topic tags: Rohan Salmond, postal vote



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Existing comments

The marriage act is a pillar on which society is built.Changing it is not a whimsjcal notion,the issue is democracy ..and surprise,suprise the great unwashed are sick to death of what they should think ..on thus or any other majir issue. Let the cards fall where they may. Steve

Steve | 21 August 2017  

In a previous thread on this topic, I made my objections to the postal vote on same-sex marriage clear. Now, Rohan, you've stated the most convincing reasons why it's such a flawed idea. Treating other human beings as less than, as an issue and as not worthy of the highest consideration. Those are the big reasons why this postal vote is so dangerous.

Pam | 21 August 2017  

Thank you Rohan. I look to Christian churches for compassion, but instead in many cases find only bigotry and condemnation.i hope your article is read widely, but I fear it will make little difference to those whose minds are already locked in the 'No' position.

Frank Golding | 21 August 2017  

If enough voters can be persuaded to boycott the postal 'survey', by refusing to return their forms, the 'government' will be forced to do its job and legislate on same-sex marriage.

Robert Liddy | 21 August 2017  

Thanks, Rohan. From memory PM Howard and the parliament changed the wording of the Marriage Act a few years ago, inserting "a man and a woman" for "partner". So, we would expect Parliament to do the same this time. But no, this is now more a political issue rather than one of justice and rights. Your article points this out clearly. Community opinion and expectation have been sidelined at the expense of political demands.

john murphy | 21 August 2017  

How long are the Catholic laity going to sit and wait for another announcement from their bishops before they stand up and dare to disagree. The leadership of the Catholic Church by the bishops in the past is a litany of failure at many levels. How can they be trusted anymore? Surely when they speak against the same sex marriage legislation they should be challenged by the majority of Catholics who disagree with them.

Tom Kingston | 21 August 2017  

We haven't seen the question/'s yet. I don't want to see the definition of marriage to change but understand the need for a stable long term relationship to be publicly acknowledged and for the partners to have the same legal status under the law as the partners in a marriage. The two relationships need to be respected but named differently.

Margaret McDonald | 21 August 2017  

Should 3-4% of the population be able to change the definition of marriage? Hate and vilification speech is on both sides of the debate. Also the use of this word "queer" what is being said? I am same sex attracted but wont be voting "yes" as I don't see this as an equality issue, that's a political furphy.

iggy | 21 August 2017  

The ascendency of this whole debate to the level it has attained in the face of so many other important, yet ignored urgencies is insane. I think I'll settle in with Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in the search for a little realism or sanity in our world.

john frawley | 21 August 2017  

Another 'twisted priority', associated with Rohan's, that Catholics may wish to know about and debate is discussed here by Michael Koziol in The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/married-sunday-fired-monday-churches-threaten-to-dismiss-staff-who-wed-samesex-partners-20170817-gxy4ds.html Terry Laidler, a former priest, cites flaws in the development of the sacramentology of marriage in his further comment in the same paper: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/archibishops-out-of-step-with-catholic-community-and-the-pope-20170820-gy03xk.html Laidler states: "The great scholastic theologian Thomas Aquinas argued explicitly that "[as to marriage's] other [non-theological] advantages…such as the friendship and mutual services which husband and wife render one another, its institution belongs to the civil law". In my concurring view, and as a celibate layperson myself, celibate clergypersons as well as laypersons should be extremely wary of commenting critically about matters concerning the civil law, as the consistent advice I received during my own study of scholasticism was that Catholics should explicitly reject the evangeliser's blue-print for interfering in other persons' civil marital arrangements unless these were to the detriment of human life. I have yet to see a coherent argument, other than those advanced by busy-bodies, against this, whether articulated by archbishops or not, and especially as such opinions bring the reputation of the Church and its teachings into disgrace. After all, Catholics are taught not to be puritans.

Dr Michael Furtado | 21 August 2017  

Of course Catholics can accept no form of a SSM Bill. Can a majority validly vote away the right of an innocent human being to life? No. Why? Because the right to life for innocents is prior to the state. Likewise, the rights of children, which traditional ("Platonic") marriage protects. According to the Natural Law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, and (this being a Catholic site) the Catholic Church, children have an inalienable in principle right to be brought up by their biological parents in their natural family. To take away that right via donor insemination, etc, is to suppress a child's right. Hence the analogy of DI children to the Stolen Generations. This applies to all DI children - which is why DI should be outlawed. But ssm (among other things) only further entrenches the suppression of this right. Admittedly, the analogy with Stolen Generations limps...but only because DI is actually a *more* grievous assault on the child. At least the children of the Stolen Generation knew their parents weren't just handing their children over as if they were just objects. But DI does exactly that, which many DI children come to realize later in life, and often with considerable psychological distress. But we don't hear about any of this from the "Yes" voters.

HH | 21 August 2017  

The cards will fall according to God's Will. Not human will. If it is granted, gay couples marry in Australia. It will be only for God to prove His point 'again'. His point about how very wrong some of ''our beliefs'' and ideas about 'Democracy', must and should be . Example: The Communist Manifesto is very good in 'theory' and In 'print'. Though, in practice its implementation and ramifications have proven detrimental to human society.

Point | 21 August 2017  

No Robert, not enough voters will be persuaded to boycott and the no case will 'win' and all the damage will have been done anyway. The only hope for ridding us of this noxious 'plebiscite' is for High Court.

Ginger Meggs | 21 August 2017  

The problem Rohan, is exactly that the marriage issue really is not about "law and justice" at all. It is about overturning the Judeo-Christian concept that marriage is about a man and a woman coming together freely to form one flesh, spiritually and physically to form a new family in which they use the gifts of the mutuality of their sexuality to create the next generation and to use the same gifts to nuture those children. In doing this they become sacramentally a part of the creativity of God itself. The current debate is dominated by the novel concept that it is just all about "love", in a pretty Holywood sort of way, without linkage to long-term commitment and creativity that is core to true marriage. Homosexual couples are 1% of all couples declaring in the census that they are living together. Why does such a small minority have such say? Surly they are being used by the Marxist left "progressive" movement intent on undermining all established institutions, however vital to the health of society. I have nothing at all against homosexual civil unions, which to me seem exactly the fit for purpose for those who don`t fit into or want what marriage demands; and that is true for many/most heterosexual couples as it is for homosexuals.

Eugene | 21 August 2017  

I have not seen one solidly based argument for opposing the proposed legislation. As followers of Jesus, we learn that unconditional love is the very nature of God. Human love is a participation in Divine Love, and is the cornerstone of harmonious society. A committed, unconditional loving relationship is a particularly sacred expression of that love. If God is where love is, then God is in the unconditional love between any two people regardless of their gender. I cannot accept that LGBTI people are bound by their sexual orientation to live celibately, deprived of sexual intimacy with a loving partner. In the Gospel Jesus constantly reaches out to people marginalised. While not specified, we can be confident that people of various sexual orientations were not excluded on that basis, and neither should his followers. The argument that children need to grow up in a loving family with both mother and father is an ideal. In reality, family violence, broken marriages and in single parent families are commonplace. Children growing up in a truly loving and stable family, no matter what the gender of their parents, are given a much better chance of flourishing than those growing up amid dysfunctional relationships.

Corrie | 21 August 2017  

Let me say right away - well said, Rohan! I have read such balderdash against same-sex marriage in recent months that I despaired of being able to have a sensible discussion on this pseudo-plebiscite. The Australian Bureau of Statistics gives it a more honest and value-free title -: Australian Marriage Act Postal Survey. And the question: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? It is not about making it compulsory. Just like hetero-sexual marriage is not compulsory. De facto marriage satisfies many couples not only physically and emotionally but also legally. Rohan has referred to some of the nastier predictions made by NO campaigners (including Christian spokespersons) as if the heterosexual marriage ideal was universally achieved.. Divorce courts and crimes of domestic violence attest to appalling failures. But what has disappointed me is when a catholic theologian claims the decisive battle between God & Satan is regarding marriage & the family. Professor Scott Hahn of Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, goes backwards to the dawn of history when Satan tempted Adam & Eve. Now that to me is fundamentally extremist. I leave it to Biblical scholars to show the Professor the error of his hermeneutics.

Uncle Pat | 21 August 2017  

Thanks Rohan for your sensible and reasonable essay. I have yet to see any argument against Marriage Equality that has made me think there is a reasonable objection to it. They tend to be either religious opinions or irrelevant points against LGBTQI relationships in general rather than marriage specifically. I also oppose the expensive and unjustified nonsense of the postal survey when the Government has the power and opportunity, but not the moral courage, to just do it. In reality though I can't support a boycott and I will have to vote yes. I worry a boycott will only serve to inflate the "no" vote to the point where it may get a majority. You can be sure the opponents of equality who forced the plebiscite in the first place will use a strong "no" vote to try to bind the Parliament to the result of the non-binding survey. I hope I'm wrong but given the way they have manipulated the discussion so far, it would be their logical next step. Let's not give them the opportunity.

Brett | 21 August 2017  

I did not expect the bishops to accept what I call "equal access to marriage" nor to accept the breaking of the seal of confession, but I do not know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of the statements that they appear to believe support their positions.

Sheelah Egan | 21 August 2017  

Thanks, Rohan. From memory, PM John Howard changed the wording in the Marriage Act 1961 from "partner" to "a man and a woman", either through Parliament or by regulation. Why go to all this trouble now in 2017? Political expediency seems to have supplanted justice and human rights. You have clearly described the former, Rohan.

John Murphy | 21 August 2017  

Thank you, Rohan, for your succinct article, pointing out that in Australia marriage is a legal act. The clergy bestows a religious blessing on the couple if they have a faith ceremony; all sign legal documents.. So any union is primarily a civic recognition which registers that commitment. The couple's faith may add another dimension to their commitment to each other. I also agree that the postal vote is unnecessarily destructive, expensive and farcical in its non-binding nature. This survey does not absolve our parliamentarians from either the public hurt or their political 'cherry-picking'. If the Marriage Act could be changed once within Parliament, it can be altered again, as I believe this issue is the human rights watershed for our times, like slavery and women's oppression for past ages. As a Christian, I will be voting yes, as to not vote in protest protracts any healing resolution: to hold the same right for everyone to be loved and, if the couple decide, to be in a constructive recognised legal relationship..

Judi Fisher | 21 August 2017  

"an immutable Platonic form" For the record: Plato sought to destroy this particular "Platonic form" (that of marriage) in his zany utopian scheme. Aristotle, feet on the ground, radically opposed his teacher on this matter. Personally, I'm for Aristotle.

HH | 21 August 2017  

Yes Rohan, not in spite of my faith but because of it, and I'm a daily communicant who believes in a God who knows all and loves all.

Patricia Taylor | 21 August 2017  

Steve is happy for a poll - but this poll won't even be as reliable as a Newspoll. They take pains to capture a representative sample of opinion, whereas this postal thing won't. Pollsters are saying it will favor young over old, urban over regional etc. The other thing for the Church is what it really thinks of marriage. When I went to Church I don't recall ever hearing sermons against, say, domestic violence, which we all know is a huge problem. How many resources has the Church thrown at that particular problem which takes place within its sacramental marriage institution?

Russell | 21 August 2017  

Thanks for your courage to write and post this, Rohan. Thanks, too, for expressing clearly your understanding of the issue and its history in the Australian parliament. I wonder, if 'protecting an ideal' held by the Catholic and some other Churches is sufficient reason for official opposition to the 'Yes' campaign? I wonder, too, how much of our national legislation is based on 'protecting an ideal' that is held by some but not by all? It's all a bit puzzling.

Alan | 21 August 2017  

The injustice and personally/emotionally hurtful aspect of this whole charade is not the fact that people are expressing their opinions and views, but that the same people continue expressing the same ignorant and misleading views without making any effort to be empathetic and and come close to a gospel view on this issue. As I suspected would be the case, I feel myself withdrawing from this debate and have nothing more to say. As Jesus said when he was being judged in his final days," Who do you say I am?"

AURELIUS | 21 August 2017  


AURELIUS | 21 August 2017  

I'm surprised (though perhaps I shouldn't be) at the scant attention given to the scriptural basis of marriage and its place in Christian teaching and tradition by those claiming that same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian belief and and practice. Ignoring or dismissing biblical reference on this matter as "fundamentalist" seems to be merely a tactical ploy, contributing nothing to a debate with radical implications - not only for the People of God but also for all society.

John | 22 August 2017  

The first casualty in this debate is 'Truth'. One side in this issue has every major corporation in the country in its corner. It has the taxpayer funded national broadcaster; one of the two major political parties unanimously committed and every media company in the land - No prize for guessing which side. And yet Rohan cries, ' who will stand up for and defend the vulnerable LBGTIQ community?'. When the LGBTI community gets the totality of its way, and I am talking here of the entire social re-engineering of our children and grand-children, that is to follow, I pray there will be something left of our culture. When I read Rohan's article, I am reminded of the eagle chick that kills off its siblings and then gives full rein to its insatiable appetite; or perhaps the Queen bee who goes through the nest killing off all the other emerging Queens. I find myself agreeing with Steve. My own common sense tells me that 'marriage' as a union between a man and a woman is a biologically natural construct which is both worth preserving and a proven vital underpinning of our culture. Any other union, however loving, is not.

BB | 22 August 2017  

I think that most advocates of same sex marriage in Australia thought the matter would have been settled in their favour long ago. It seemed a foregone conclusion. Sadly for them it has not been. It is a hot political issue for many on both sides, and, the longer it continues, the more it heats up. Noel Pearson even entered the debate saying the matter should be postponed until the extremely complicated issue on the Constitution and an Aboriginal voice in the nation's law making process be resolved. That would drag it on ad infinitum. I really have no problem with a referendum, as happened in a civilised and peaceful way in Ireland. It is not a referendum that is the problem but the constant vitriol and vindictiveness stemming from extremists on both sides.

Edward Fido | 23 August 2017  

The problem with anything associated with gays is not gays or gayness itself, that's personal. The problem is the disproportionate coverage it receives in the media throughout the western world when compared to actual population percentage. The subject of gays is exceptionally profitable for commercial media, just like abortion. It pokes and prods the audience, generating a reaction. This is in itself captured interest, which drives the advertising dollar. Keeping this in mind, it makes the below comment all the more unfathomable. "For queer Christians, being caught in the crossfire of this culture war is a terrifying experience. You feel conspicuous and invisible all at the same time. You cause controversy simply by existing, yet people pretend you do not exist." You are overrepresented, not under. You cause controversy not by simply existing, but by happily allowing your cause or beliefs to be hijacked by a rampant, overly-powerful regime that is force-feeding its libertarian views on a population that's had enough of it. If the modern world had any integrity, this 'movement' would be dismissed as a non-issue, due simply to a lack of gays by numbers and the removal of the whipped frenzy factor. Alas, wishful thinking.

Tony | 23 August 2017  

Some sanity at last ! Thank you BB. I'm afraid, however, that those running the asylum in this modern day Bedlam won't see that.

john frawley | 23 August 2017  

@HH. With all due respect, your argument against Marriage Equality is based in a myth that has been debunked, that conservatives can't seem to let die. The valid research in the area demonstrates that Children raised by Same Sex couples are not disadvantaged: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/same-sex-parented-families-australia/childrens-wellbeing-same-sex-parented-families It's also an untrue statement of International Law. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does, no where in its text refer to a right to be raised by biological parents - it simply says parent. No judicial body has ever interpreted it that way. Nor does the convention anywhere mention Marriage or state that Marriage is a protection of Children's rights. That is simply untrue.

Julia | 23 August 2017  

Ah BB, you make a number of broad assertions but offer very little evidence or persuasive argument. You're entitled, of course, to your opinion based on your concept of 'common sense', but unless you can argue your position, and preferably from evidence, that's all it remains - your opinion. And coming back to your assertions, has it pseeed your notice that the greatest corporation in the land is firmly on the 'NO' side?

Ginger Meggs | 23 August 2017  

On the contrary, John, I would have thought that those running your 'modern day Bedlam', that is Abbott, Andrews, Abetz, and the rest of the coalition's right wing conservatives, would immediately identify with the opinions that BB has expressed. That's why headed down this unnecessary, expensive, and potentially damaging track.

Ginger Meggs | 23 August 2017  

I think when people question the vulnerability of LGBTQI people we should remember it was not so long ago that gays were being discriminated against, bashed and even murdered in Sydney and Adelaide and elsewhere because of their sexuality. Until recent times, expressions of LGBTQI love were illegal and some people ended up in gaol, hardly the best environment for people just trying to live their lives. I don’t know if Australian Christians have gone through anything like that. Yes, those days are mostly gone, but BB please don’t question the vulnerability of LGBTQI people after all they have been through. Even today it is still difficult for some LGBTQI people, particularly young people, to be open about their sexuality, as heterosexual people are. This is not directly relevant to the postal survey but it does provide context to the concerns many LGBTQI people have about what this process is saying about them. LGBTQI people may be a minority Tony, but I remember the old saying about the worth of a society being judged by the way it treats its minorities. The world will not end when Marriage Equality is law. This is not about libertarianism or any other ideology; it is just a desire for equal treatment under the law of the land. Is that really too much to ask?

Brett | 23 August 2017  

No, Brett, the world will not end in the event of so-called Marriage Equality becoming law, but I don't think the issue will go away, especially as people become increasingly impatient with the burden of highly contrived euphemisms PC-speak imposes.

John | 24 August 2017  

@Eugene. Even if it were conceded that Marriage equality was overturning, the "Judeo-Christian concept that marriage is...," and I think it's more complicated than that given the fact the institution of marriage has always been changing and in it's previous been exclusionary and oppressive, this is not enough of a logical argument to oppose reform. Australia is no longer dominantly "Judeo-Christian" if it ever was. According to the last census the largest individual denomination in Australia is now "No religion," and we have increased religious diversity with rising numbers of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists. On top of that the simple fact is that people marry for all sorts of different reasons including for love. It isn't a religious sacrament for everyone and the majority of marriages these days are civil ceremonies. To go further and argue it's vital to the health of society - That argument is largely moot given 23 countries have marriage equality, including Canada and the Netherlands whom have had it for over a decade now, there have been no such ill effects, excluding it seems homophobic hurt feelings.

Julia | 24 August 2017  

On the other hand John, think what a "no" vote will do to some LGBTQI people. I don't want to see that either.

Brett | 24 August 2017  

Ginger, OUR media behemoths are the Taxpayer-funded National broadcasters. Would anyone seriously dispute that the entire weight of both are behind one side. I say UNFAIR! Some CEOs of our largest corporation choose to use profits accrued from all of us to support one side. Where is the morality in an organisation using the profit from my using this very communication to support one side in this issue? I say UNFAIR! In this matter the only reason the opinions of these CEOs warrant any more weight than the opinion of the people who wash the CEO's cars is that CEOs control the funds accumulated from doing business with ALL of us. I say their partiality is UNFAIR! I repeat my original assertion - My common sense tells me that 'marriage' as a union between a man and a woman is a biologically natural construct which is exclusively worth ALL of us preserving, and a proven vital underpinning of our culture. Any other union, however loving, is not. Ultimately this matter is not really about Marriage. When LGBTI get their result, few will rush out and marry. Sadly, this is more about controlling discourse and long-term re-educating our children through programs like Safe Schools.

BB | 24 August 2017  

I agree with Margaret McDonald and others who support formal legal unions but I can never believe that they are marriages. And the intolerance I have encountered is intolerance of those who share my view (many awful recent examples in north America especially), being described, for instance, each week in its bulletin as "homophobic" in the "liberal" church I once attended but left for this reason - with other examples among these comments and elsewhere.

John Bunyan | 24 August 2017  

Well, BB, I certainly hear what you consider is UNFAIR, but no amount of shouting is a persuasive alternative to argument from evidence.

Ginger Meggs | 24 August 2017  

Comments that Marriage Equality will somehow deny children’s rights to parents are not an argument against Marriage Equality. They are an argument against LGBTQI people being able to raise children. Well, it’s already happening quite legally and Marriage Equality will not change it, except to allow the parents of these children to be married, and who can argue against the parents of children being married? There is no evidence LGBTQI people are any less capable of being parents or that their children are any less secure or loved or well cared for than other children. The argument is not against marriage, it is against LGBTQI people themselves because of who they are. That’s where homophobia comes into it. If the same arguments about the rights of children were used against adoptive parents, or couples with fertility issues who use science to start a family, or single parent families, they would get the ridicule they deserve, yet somehow LGBTQI people are fair game for this line of argument. If it isn't homophobia, give me another name for it.

Brett | 24 August 2017  

Brett, you demand equality on your terms and naively assure us that ‘This is not about any other ideology; it is just a desire for equal treatment’. Have you noticed, Brett Life abounds in ‘inequalities’. The Crawford Report into Australian Sport, 2009, concluded that each Gold Medal in 2008 cost $15m. Try running a little sport club in country Queensland. I want an equal chance to ride a Melbourne Cup winner; it’s gross inequality that jockey weights are set at less than 80kgs. I would have liked to represent Australia in Rugby but the skills required are too unequal. I would like to have earned $500K per year but I found the world was an inequitable place. Despite your naïve assurances, there ARE other ideologies at work and you must consider us gullible in the extreme to believe otherwise. This whole debate is UNEQUAL. One side has massive corporate and media backing; the other has NOTHING. How many ‘Marriage Equality’ meetings have been forced to cancel because of bullying Christians? NIL! I could cite multiple cancellations as a consequence of LGBTI bullying.. How many LGBTI advocates have been hauled before the authorities for gently stating their beliefs? NIL!

BB | 25 August 2017  

This is a typical article against the "No" supporters. You paint us all as radical christians to once again make us all look like a bunch of ratbags. This just is not true. This anti no campaign is itself, discriminatory against us. If gay people were not so self obsessed with their own agendas then this would not even rank as a worthwhile issue. Yes there are far more important issues to deal with. But gays have made this the number one issue for us all to have to deal with.

David Letheby | 26 August 2017  

Relying on analogy, BB, rather than argument (as you've done is your response to Brett) is less than convincing. One might use those analogies of yours to justify the denial of the right to marriage (or any other civil right for that matter) to other 'different groups' like, for example, people of (different) colour, indigenous people, people without property, people with limited education, and so forth. Come to think of it, it's actually been done before, to all those groups, and many others! As I said before, you're entitled to your opinion, but unless you're prepared to defend it with argument from evidence, we could be forgiven for thinking that it is simply based on prejudice.

Ginger Meggs | 27 August 2017  

Ginger Meggs: “….unless you're prepared to defend it with argument from evidence, we could be forgiven for thinking that it is simply based on prejudice.” The prejudice lies with you for repeatedly choosing not to deal with the evidence that in all of the groups you’ve mentioned, biological parents live with their children. In single parent and blended households, the right of a biological parent to be remembered as such is upheld through access rights. In a blended household, the other partner is not a parent but a step-parent. So-called SSMs repudiate the biological link between parent and child, making all children created because of those arrangements (as opposed to children brought into the arrangement from previous heterosexual relationships of the now homosexual partners) orphans. The inequality between marriage and so-called same-sex marriage is founded on the unpalatable empirical difference that so-called SSMs deliberately orphan children. All biological creatures have a ‘mother’ and a ‘father’; the difference between human beings and the lesser creatures is that meaning has traditionally been assigned to being a human ‘mother’ or a ‘father’. SSM philosophy endorses the fiction that it means nothing to be a human ‘mother’ or a ‘father’.

Roy Chen Yee | 28 August 2017  

I’m not demanding equality on my terms BB, I’m asking for equal treatment with consenting adult heterosexual couples who wish to marry. I don’t think fairness is too much to ask. You chose to ignore my comments on why LGBTQI people might still feel vulnerable and concerned about the postal survey but you respond with silly analogies about riding Melbourne Cup winners and playing rugby for Australia. Okay, to answer your point, if you have the necessary skills and years of training and experience there is no law to stop you from doing either of those things. You would be treated like anyone else. That is the point about Marriage Equality. It simply isn’t about ideology or controlling other people; it’s about fairness. Supporters include libertarians, socialists, Christians and people from just about every ideology and faith, even the Catholic Church. I might be naïve on some things but I think it is important to understand where some LGBTQI people have come from. It is deeply personal. You may ignore it but this “debate” is doing nothing to lessen their fears and vulnerabilities.

Brett | 28 August 2017  

Roy, that is, with respect, an example of the groundless, hurtful, and therefore objectionable comment that is being made by opponents of marriage equality. It is the sort of poison to which Penny Wong referred in her speech in the Senate in response to the government's proposal for a postal 'survey'. I suggest that you go listen again to that speech and watch the minister Corman cringe. The next time that you run into an adoptive/step parent, try telling him/her/them that they are not really the father/mother/parents of their children and see what sort of response you get.

Ginger Meggs | 28 August 2017  

On the contrary Roy, GLBTQI people who raise children show exactly how much it means to be mother or father, as do heterosexual parents. I suggest there is no empirical evidence to show they are any less capable of providing children with a safe, supportive and loving family than a heterosexual couple. If there is such evidence, please share it. Some GLBTQI people will be better at it than others, but that’s the same with heterosexual parents. These kids are not orphans either; they have parents with or without a biological link. That comment ranks with the ACL’s slur about another stolen generation. But you are not actually arguing against Marriage Equality; you are arguing against GLBTQI people raising children. They are not the same thing. People marry for many reasons apart from procreation and some people procreate outside of marriage. GLBTQI people have been legally raising children for many years without marriage. Don’t you think it would be nice for the kids if their parents could be married?

Brett | 28 August 2017  

Julia, the UN Declaration clearly implies biological parents when it refers to parents. For example:"... to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care." (Principle 4) This statement would make no sense at all if it was not taken to be referring to the biological mother. Again: "a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. " (Principle 6) Are you seriously suggesting that "mother" here is intended to include a male non-biological "parent" who is changing the child's nappies?

HH | 05 September 2017  

Obviously "parents" includes biological parents. It would be nonsense to suggest otherwise and nobody has as far as I can see. It is also pretty clear "parents" goes further than biology and includes other adults who provide love, care and protection for children within a family environment. It has to be otherwise the definition is too restrictive given the diversity of families and the rights of the child would not be adequately safeguarded. But in the context of Marriage Equality I have to ask "so what"? This has nothing to do with the question going out in the expensive postal survey. GLBTQI couples have been raising children for years and will continue to do so regardless of the result of the opinion poll or opposition in Parliament. So I have to ask, why are some people discriminating against children with GLBTQI parents by trying to prevent their parents marrying?

Brett | 13 September 2017  

It's obvious for some people words are incredibly plastic and can be twisted back on themselves. Thus where the UN Declaration on the rights of the child says "special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care." they will say that this is too restrictive if interpreted too literally, given the "diversity" of ways children are now treated pre-natally - including being deliberately killed. So they will insist that obviously "special care and protection of the child" includes keeping it alive and as healthy as possible, and how ridiculous to say it doesn't! But it also includes, er, killing it as well. Marvellous things, words.

HH | 20 September 2017  

HH: “It's obvious for some people words are incredibly plastic and can be twisted back on themselves.” The first initiator of distorted thinking in the Bible is the serpent, a symbolic conforming of form to function.

Roy Chen Yee | 21 September 2017  

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