Extending the Debate on “Gay Marriage”

Last week's local paper, the Mosman Daily, ran an article in the lead-up to the annual Sydney Mardi Gras parade on the topic of “gay marriage”. A local activist had done his work and managed to get some soundbites in,

 

Gay marriage ban a waste of pollie time

 

 

POLITICIANS should focus on bigger issues, such as climate change and the flood levy, rather than wasting energy on opposing gay marriage, Cremorne resident Nathan Thomas said.

Ahead of the Mardi Gras on Saturday, the 35-year-old proud gay man said it was “ridiculous” that in 2011 same-sex couples could not get married in Australia.

“It seems that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott cannot agree on anything other than to oppose gay people to marry,” Mr Thomas said.

“We need them to be leaders in human rights matters, not lagging behind public opinion and the rest of the world.”

Mr Thomas said while many churches were now pro gay-marriage and there was support among ministers within the Labor Party and the Coalition, nobody was willing to speak out.

Fair enough, that's the beauty of living in a democracy – people can lobby for their own concerns. The Daily published a follow-on article this week,

 

Pollies lampooned at Mardi Gras

 

SYDNEY celebrated its most “politically driven” Mardi Gras last weekend, Cremorne resident and proud gay man Nathan Thomas said.

Amid the spectacle of glitter-clad angels and burlesque dancers, the underlying focus of Saturday’s parade was on pushing Australia’s leaders to legalise gay marriage.

Read related story: Gay marriage ban a waste of pollie time

“Gay marriage is going to happen whether politicians like it or not – it’s a basic human right and it’s gathering popular support,” Mr Thomas said.

Mr Thomas was part of the Australian Marriage Equality Now float, which was run by Australia’s premier same-sex marriage advocacy group of the same name.

“We had the biggest Equality float this year – 140 people – my dad and sister were there to support me, it was awesome,” Mr Thomas said.

The float featured gay, lesbian and straight dancers dressed in wedding gowns, led by two large caricatures of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

The political foes mischievously engaged in improper antics to reinforce the point they only agree on one thing – banning gay marriage, Mr Thomas said.

Credit where it's due to Nathan Thomas, he's managed to get his agenda reported 2 weeks in a row. But last week we thought the original article should be responded to and so this week the Mosman Daily not only published the follow-on, but also the full text of a letter that we wrote,

Nathan Thomas seems a little inconsistent in his argumentation (“Gay marriage ban a waste of pollie time” 3 March 2011). If this is not a “bigger issue” then why does Mr Thomas spend so much time campaigning about it? Or, for that matter, why are politicians of all sides of the political divide so reluctant to just concede to the demands of the pro-gay lobby?

The truth is that this is an enormous issue for many people, no matter which side of debate they fall on – the definition of marriage has profound implications for how we view our society, not least in what we are saying about what situations children should be raised in to become members of that society. As a start we should recognise that countless sociological studies have demonstrated that by far the best outcomes are realised for children raised by both their biological parents cohabiting in a stable and committed relationship, although we recognise that this may not always be possible. The Anglican Church's own marriage liturgy affirms heterosexual marriage which, by its very nature, is intended to produce children “for the good order of society”.

It is also somewhat disingenuous, as often occurs, to present those opposed to “gay marriage” as “ridiculous” and narrow-minded. There are many, ourselves included, who are deeply convinced that those in long-term committed partnerships, no matter what their sexuality, deserve the full protection of the state in matters such as access to superannuation, probate, hospital visitation rights of next-of-kin and the like and yet we are not persuaded that the term “marriage” is the right umbrella term to summarise all those different partnerships. That hardly makes us bigots simply because we, in good conscience, disagree with others.

Surely it is more fair-minded to recognise that both sides consider there to be very important issues at stake – issues that deserve deeper consideration by all than easy soundbites and dismissive prejudice. Perhaps if we can get through the posturing we might actually, as a society, have a better discussion on these matters which, despite Mr Thomas' reported claims, are seen as fundamentally important to so many of us, no matter which side of the debate we are on.

Rev. Craig Roberts
Rev. Ruth Muffett
Rev. David Ould
St. Augustine's Anglican Church, Neutral Bay

It's our own contribution to the ongoing debate, following on from John Dickson's excellent example last week. These are the sort of discussions we need to be encouraging not just at a national letter and in the big broadsheets but also in local communities – putting a face to the arguments and helping people see that this issue is far from simple.

 

 

 

 

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