Before beginning this blog, I want to say that a ballot (or poll) on same sex marriage (or marriage equality) is one of the worst policy failures I have ever witnessed (up there with energy ‘policy’ and climate change ‘action’). It is less about policy formation and more about an ideological battle within the Liberal/National parties.
This blog is about dispelling some myths. In a democracy we are entitled to our opinions so “it is ok to vote no” – but if you do vote no, please do not use any of the following excuses:
- I am defending the sanctity of marriage
Actually, you are not. Being married is a beautiful thing but it is straight people that have given marriage a bad name: from high levels of divorce, to the shows that make a mockery of marriage like ‘Who wants to marry a multi-millionaire’ and ‘Married at first sight’. Marriage lost much of its sanctity a long time ago.
Besides, as highlighted by the Kathy Gollan last year, marriage has always been subject to social change. Here are some significant changes (I have also added some of my favourites):
- June 10, 1884: married women can own property: Victoria becomes the first Australian colony to pass legislation allowing married women to own property.
- June 1, 1918: a law (Aboriginals Ordinance 1918) was introduced to restrict marriage between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous men in the Northern Territory and not removed until 1953.
- November 16, 1942: a law was passed in Tasmania to raise the minimum age of marriage from 12 for women and 14 for men to 16 and 18 respectively – other states then followed.
- November 18, 1966: a ban on employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service was abolished. The “marriage bar”, introduced in the early 1900s, was intended to keep women from ‘stealing’ men’s jobs.
- 1967: interracial marriage became legal in the US.
- June 12, 1975: no fault divorce was introduced (Family Law Act 1975) and 12-months separation became sufficient to prove breakdown of a marriage (prior to that, some form of wrongdoing by either party had to be proved).
- 1979: US law changed to make rape by spouses illegal.
- April 1, 2001: Netherlands legalises same-sex marriage (world does not end).
- August 16, 2004: John Howard added the following definition to the Marriage Act: “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
You can see that much has changed about marriage – and you can guarantee that it will continue to change.
- I am doing it for the children
The overwhelming evidence is that there is no detrimental impact of same sex marriage on children. First, you do not need to be married to have children – marriage and children are two separate things. You can also be married and choose not to have children.
Second, children are fine no matter the make-up of their family if they experience loving and caring relationships. In fact, in 2010 American researchers published results from a meta-analysis of 33 studies comparing the well-being of children raised by opposite-sex couples with children raised by same-sex couples – the result: no evidence that children raised by same-sex parents fared any worse than other children on a range of behavioural, educational, emotional or social outcomes.
- Same sex marriage advocates are bullies
Have you ever been to a football game and there has been a dickhead in the crowd: do you go home and talk about this or the game or the moron? Do you stop attending every game or watching footy because someone annoyed you?
I am a same sex marriage advocate – I may be a lot of things, but I am not a bully.
Have stupid people said stupid things? Oh yes! Have insults been traded? Oh yes. Is it only same sex marriage advocates who have done this? No.
For every stupid person on both sides of this debate, there are countless people of good sense – voting against this because Miranda Divine, Mark Latham, Andrew Bolt and others who have long promoted intolerance in different ways tell you to is simply spreading their intolerance.
- It is a fight against political correctness
No, it is not. The history of political correctness is actually complex and the insult that something or someone is ‘politically correct’ is the equivalent of saying that someone is un-Australian because they are critical of the government. It is a lazy and stupid insult that makes no sense.
- It’s about religious freedom
No – religious freedoms have been guaranteed including the right of religious folk to refuse to marry same sex couples. The Bill put forward by a number of Liberal Party Members of Parliament that pushed for a free vote on same-sex marriage in August 2017 also put forward a set of comprehensive religious freedom protections. The five Liberal backbenchers were Dean Smith, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson and Warren Entsch. This issue of religious freedom has bipartisan support.
Again, this vote has nothing to do with religious freedom… this has already been protected.
You can vote no – of course you can. But be honest about why you are doing it – and please do not use any of the above excuses because they do not stack up.