A useful editorial from The Australian (my emphasis),

 AMONG its “reasons why marriage equality matters”, the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group lists “growing support in Australia and around the world” – an argument that implies public opinion deserves to be respected. But, unfortunately, the group showed scant respect for the democratic process when it slammed Immigration Minister Chris Bowen for declaring he would vote against same-sex marriage.

Mr Bowen, quite reasonably, is basing his decision on the fact that the Labor Party went to the 2010 election with a policy of retaining the status quo. He believes that his vote should reflect the “overwhelming and strong community view” of his western Sydney electorate of McMahon, in which many people have told him of “the great importance they place on the traditional definition of marriage”.

MPs are elected to represent their electorates, which is why Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich is wrong in accusing Mr Bowen and others such as Parramatta MP Julie Owens of a “cop out” and “hiding behind their electorates” in opposing same-sex marriage. Ms Owens has no problems personally with the concept of same-sex marriage but, to her credit, will be guided by her constituents in voting on the issue. Surveys show that most voters in western Sydney electorates, especially those with high concentrations of Christian and Muslim migrants, favour retaining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Such opinions are as valid as those of people who believe the Marriage Act should be changed.

If enough MPs voted to change the act on the basis of Mr Greenwich’s advice “to stand up for their convictions”, the outcome would be social disharmony and a sense of alienation from the democratic process in areas where people’s views were discounted by those supposedly representing them. Mr Greenwich is entitled to advocate strongly for his cause. So are those with the opposite view. Demanding that MPs override their constituents to support a position that the marriage equality lobby regards as superior smacks of arrogance and an elitist mindset out of step with our robust democracy.

The Australian has not taken a view on this divisive issue. But we strongly believe that the debate should be conducted fairly, with opposing views given equal respect.

And that’s what’s increasingly lacking, equal respect for legitimate points of view. Instead the “gay marriage” lobby increasingly are seeking to demonise their opponents while at the same time arguing for people to be respected. Go figure.

And, of course, that means those on the conservative side in this debate ought to also consider the language that they use. Play the ball, not the man. If the “gay marriage” lobby consistently refuse to engage with the detailed argument (as they clearly do) that doesn’t mean we slack off in being careful in how we communicate.

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8 comments on “The Australian on the Tenor of the “Gay Marriage” Debate

      • My name is Dave, as you well know.

        Respect is earned. If you want to describe your opinion as legitimate and be respected for it, it’s not unreasonable that you first defend your opinion’s legitimacy.

        You appear to be simply stamping your foot and whinging that your opinion is legitimate and worthy of respect.

        Regardless of the undemonstrated ‘legitimacy’ of your anti-gay views, the whinging and footstamping itself is risible.

        • My name is Dave, as you well know.
          I’m sorry Dave. I meant no disrespect at all – I was simply trying to be courteous.

          Respect is earned. If you want to describe your opinion as legitimate and be respected for it, it’s not unreasonable that you first defend your opinion’s legitimacy.

          I entirely agree. That’s why I’ve been covering this topic here in some detail for a while.

          You appear to be simply stamping your foot and whinging that your opinion is legitimate and worthy of respect.

          That’s a curious analysis. Can you point to some specific “foot-stamping” or “whinging”?

          Regardless of the undemonstrated ‘legitimacy’ of your anti-gay views, the whinging and footstamping itself is risible.

          Yes, I agree that any “whinging” and “footstamping” is risible. It’s particularly risible when it comes without any actual substantiated argument. As for being “anti-gay”, I think you draw a very long bow. I’m against long-term monogamous homosexual relationships being described as “marriage”. It’s quite a specific position as you might discover if you read my material in detail. That fact that you respond as you do serves, I would suggest, to indicate that the observation made in the Australian editorial might not be without merit.

          • This post demands, without justification, that your views amending the Marriage Act are both legitimate and worthy of respect. ‘Footstomping and whinging’ is a metaphor I used as a way of drawing out how risible this demand is.

            Now you have linked to your previous writing on the topic, apparently in support of the claim that it is a ‘legitimate’ point of view to legally prohibit gay couples from signing a marriage contract.

            Leaving aside, if I may, the video embeds, I see only a few arguments against allowing same-sex marriage.

            The ones about breeding, child-rearing and abortion are as irrelevant to gay marriage as they are to straight marriage. We don’t prohibit post-menopausal women or childfree people from marrying and I don’t believe you would argue for such prohibitions.

            The only other arguments I could see were those from Peter Jensen. I will, as you might expect, reject the biblical arguments. They may inform Christians’ opinions, and to those people they may well be considered legitimate but there is absolutely no reason why anyone else need be remotely concerned by them.

            Jensen’s secular arguments, briefly:

            siblings may not marry, even if they are past the age of having children… ”marriage equality” was meaningful, it should encompass all these possibilities. It does not.

            ‘Marriage equality’ in the context of the debate regarding same-sex marriage is obviously no more nor less than an abbreviation of ‘marriage equality for homosexual and heterosexual couples’. Jensen knows this, so I think this is just a rehash of the slippery-slope argument, that allowing gay marriage will grant the right to polygamous marriage, incest, dogs and cats living together and so on. It needn’t. They are separate issues. We can and no doubt will debate these as a society separately.

            It’s not as though when marriage was defined we simply overlooked the possibility of two people of the same sex being married. We are not fixing an accidental omission. We would be changing a very deliberate, relevant exclusion.

            Amusingly, Australian statutes didn’t deliberately make this relevant exclusion till the Marriage Amendment Act 2004. It could be overturned by parliament, along with the prior common law understanding, just as easily. Jensen, of course, doesn’t state where he gets his definition of marriage from. Had he bothered, we may have had to discuss arguments from tradition, same-sex marriage in history, or, again, the irrelevance of scripture to the non-religious. Dodged a bullet there.

            Another slogan says extending marriage… would change nothing essential. Your own marriage would not change… But it’s not true… My marriage would be different… I would have to find a different word for my marriage, or add the rider ”heterosexual” to the word ”marriage”.

            No more than I have to call my de facto relationship a straight de facto relationship, or clarify that my partner is female. Maybe Peter’s just scared we’ll think he’s gay.

            If I’ve missed an argument, let me know. But of those I’ve found, none are even remotely legitimate.

            I continue to withhold any respect for the opinion that the Marriage Act should not be amended to allow same-sex couples to sign the same contract as straights.

  1. The ones about breeding, child-rearing and abortion are as irrelevant to gay marriage as they are to straight marriage. We don’t prohibit post-menopausal women or childfree people from marrying and I don’t believe you would argue for such prohibitions.

    Then you’ve clearly not read the arguments in any detail. I have on a number of occasions addressed that specific challenge (for example here and, in part, here) but you make no reference to it.

    Maybe Peter’s just scared we’ll think he’s gay.
    Yes, when it comes down to it that’s probably exactly it. Your argument is quite stunning, in a number of ways.

    • Re. breeding, child-rearing and abortion being necessary for marriage, or vice versa:

      I have on another of occasions addressed that specific challenge

      I did read those posts. For example where you said ‘in recent decades the divorce between children and marriage has become far wider’. An accurate observation, and one that settles the factual question at hand.

      Neither marriage nor children is necessarily linked to the other, your invocation of the philosopher Sinatra notwithstanding. Even if the song were called ‘Childbearing and marriage’, horses have long been understood to perform both with and without carriages. Horseless carriages have similarly gone strength to strength. The marriage act neither forbids the infertile from marrying, nor requires that the fertile found a family. Nor would it demand reproductive miracles from gay couples.

      Furthermore, your discussion of Penny Wong’s family only serves to underline that parenthood is about much more than genetics. Just as we aren’t banning post-menopausal marriage, we are also not banning adoption nor surrogacy.

      Maybe Peter’s just scared we’ll think he’s gay… Your argument is quite stunning, in a number of ways.

      Peter Jensen has always put me in mind of a camp Dick Smith, as it happens. Regardless, he can continue calliing his marriage a marriage without needing to tell me the gender of his spouse. I don’t actually mind either way whom he is marriage to. It’s none of my business, and that’s the point.

      • Neither marriage nor children is necessarily linked to the other
        well, that’s the debate at hand, isn’t it? You can’t simply assert that they’re not linked when our western society has understood that link and legislated on the assumption of that link for such a long time. You are one of many promoting an ideology that breaks that link but it is just another ideology. There are other competing ideologies with far greater provenance which, despite your rhetoric, have some merit.

        Furthermore, your discussion of Penny Wong’s family only serves to underline that parenthood is about much more than genetics.
        Yes, but again the question is whether it may normally understood to be divorced from genetics OR procreative potential. Again, I note that you’re skirting around the actual arguments being made. It’s one thing to pick at the edges, another to deal with the substance of the issue. There are substantial arguments being made here that you may seek to dismiss but that dismissal does not, on it’s own, constitute a victory in the argument. More accurately it demonstrates an increasing flight from proper argument.

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