Why state marriage is worse for marriage than gay marriage

Major Karnage explains why gay marriage should never have been an issue before Parliament.

Cross-posted from Major Karnage

A few conversations popped-up on my Facebook feed last week regarding the revelation that Tony Abbot has a gay sister and has *gasp* not shunned her. In fact, he treats her quite well.

Why is that a "shock"? Well, Tony Abbot holds the point of view that "marriage" is something that happens between a man and a woman. To numerous proponents of gay marriage, this means that he is a priori a homophobe. I definitely saw at least one comment thread in which someone accused him of trying to "hide" his "bigotry" through treating his sister well when he clearly is actually a bigot because he is against gay marriage.

This is a stupid argument to make. There seems to be this horrible tendency amongst fanatics to assume that anyone who disagrees with them must be doing so out of prejudice. I see it all the time with the Middle East conflict. Being anti-Israel is antisemitic, and being pro-Israel is Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, normative, imperialist, neo-colonialist… you get the picture. It also happens with immigration, feminism and plenty of other areas. It's a very simple argument, it's almost always wrong and it actually works against your point – no one is ever going to agree with you if you keep calling them a sexist because "Israeli occupation hurts Palestinian women as well as men". Especially when you have a month-long summit on the global status of women and this is the only condemnation you could come up with – as if everything is fine and dandy everywhere else in the world (it isn't). Yeah UN Commission on the Status of Women, I'm looking at you.

Big M little m

The problem is that they are arguing about different things. To gay marriage proponents, "marriage" is a right. To Tony Abbot, "marriage" means

the marriage described by Lord Penzance in Hyde v Hyde & Woodmansee (1866) LR 1 P & D 130, at 133:

The position or status of 'husband' and 'wife' is a recognised one throughout Christendom: the laws of all Christian nations throw about that status a variety of legal incidents during the lives of the parties, and induce definite rights upon their offspring. … I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.

When he said "Christendom", he meant "Christendom". He actually distinguished between "Christendom" and Turkey, where the Sultan had a whole harem of wives and "marriage" was between one man and one or more women.

Notice, though, there are two different components to "marriage" that the good Lord was talking about. Let's call them "marriage 1" and "marriage 2":

  • The first component is the "status" of husband and wife. As he said, this status gives the married couple certain legal rights and also may give rights to their children. What rights are these? Well Lord Penzance couldn't pin that down, mostly because it varies from place to place. For a whole variety of reasons, marriage law is slightly different everywhere, although everywhere has some kind of marriage law.
  • The second component is this controversial sentence that half of Australia wants to remove from the Marriage Act and the other half is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep: "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others".

Protect what institution again?

This is why there is conflict. When Henry VIII broke from the Vatican and founded his own church, it was because he disagreed with the Catholic idea that you could not be divorced without approval of the Pope – and preferred the more progressive Anglican idea that you could not be divorced without permission from the King. He created the Anglican Church, appointed himself as its head, and declared that as the embodiment of the Church and the Sovereign, he could marry whomever he damn well chose.

So began the Anglican institution of Marriage that is now being strongly championed by Australia's Catholic community – an involuntary union, forever, of one common church and one common law, to the exclusion of all others.

I believe that State marriage is destroying marriage. Enforcing marriage 2 in a legal system is done today in some Muslim countries and the results are horrible and inhumane. This is where adultery is criminalised  and punished – in some cases with death by stoning – or where boys and girls are married-off by their families for money or social status and then never permitted to separate. Thankfully, "Christendom" has become "the West" and we no longer have a taste for this kind of thing. What that means, however, is that marriage has been watered-down over centuries.

What does marriage mean today? To some, it means permanent residency in Australia; to others, it means a tax break; to others, it means a baby bonus; to others, it means inheritance. It also does not carry much weight – the idea of a union "for life" is disappearing throughout society. Marriage is becoming a temporary arrangement, whereby a man and a woman can join in a union for a few years, one gets an Aussie passport, the other gets some nice inheritance, and both get tax breaks. Meanwhile, neither of them "excludes all others" and they eventually get divorced, meaning that the whole "for life" thing didn't happen either.

What I have just described is the legal institution of "marriage", as it exists in Australia in 2012. However it may be defined in the Marriage Act, this is clearly not "the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others". So here is my question: why would any Catholic like Tony Abbot even want to keep that? Let alone exclude two men or two women from being a part of it. And how is excluding gay couples from that institution "saving marriage"? Do you really think that allowing two people of the same gender to "marry" is the silver bullet that will tear down the institution?

Honey, we need a divorce

This is why the whole debate is so wrong. The people who want to "legalise gay marriage" do not want to change marriage 2, but they want gay people to participate in marriage 1. The people who oppose "gay marriage" want to preserve marriage 2 and so they refuse to change marriage 1.

To put it another way: marriage 2 does not discriminate – any person, regardless of sexual preference, is able to become part of a "voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others". Marriage 1 does discriminate – it gives legal rights to heterosexual couples and denies homosexual couples those same rights.

So what do I want? I want a divorce – of church and state. I want to sever the centuries-old union between legal marriage and Christian marriage and allow each to go back to where they should be: one in court, the other in church.

I want to abolish the Marriage Act and replace it with something called the Civil Unions Act or similar. An Act that would allow two consenting adults to be joined in whatever over-politicised legal mess they want, but would leave marriage out of it.

Marriage can go back to being "a union between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others" in substance and not just in name. Different religious denominations could marry whoever they want however they want and could choose whether to recognise each other's marriages according to their beliefs. The State would no longer need to be the arbiter of who can and cannot call themselves "husband" and "wife".

My bet? Marriage would mean something again, because it would be something that people do when they believe in it. It also would also mean that marriage advocates could concentrate on things that would actually save marriage – like more accessible couples therapy and childcare.

Gay marriage is not the issue, there are plenty of provisions in the Marriage Act that have already eroded marriage beyond recognition. We need to stop talking past each other on gay marriage and realise the real enemy here – the Marriage Act. If you want to save marriage, stop making it a political issue and let it be about morals again.

 

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based young professional. 

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Christophobia Marches On

 

George 2 a

 

George Christensen MP looks at the same-sex marriage debate through the prism of growing attacks on Christianity by the state around the world:

The sentiments behind the recent push by independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie to exempt churches from having to perform same sex ‘marriages’, if indeed they are legalised, are probably well-intentioned.

However, it is clear from the global experience that any such sentiments, legislated, codified or otherwise, will not withstand the ongoing march of Christophobia that is occurring throughout the Western world.

This Christophobia – this system persecution of the faithful – is not something new for Christians. In fact, Saint Paul’s second epistle to Timothy warns us that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”.

But such persecution is anathema to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion… (including the) freedom… in public … to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching; (and) No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom…”

And yet in Great Britain the situation is that intolerable for Christians that in recent years, the Archbishop of York of the Church of England, the Rt Rev John Sentamu was moved to say that there are:

Those who … argue that they operate in pursuit of policies based on the twin aims of 'diversity and equality'… Yet … 'diversity' … means every colour and creed except Christianity… and 'equality' … excludes anyone … with a Christian belief in God.

And it is no wonder when we see recent headlines such as “Tory MP calls for churches to be banned from holding marriages if they refuse gay couples” from gay media outlet..

The article refers to a British Conservative MP who, in August last year, lobbied his Prime Minister David Cameron to compel churches to register civil partnerships, pointing to a precedent where Catholic adoption agencies were compelled to provide adoption services for same-sex couples.

In Canada, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal declared “unconstitutional” a proposed legislative amendment allowing Saskatchewan’s marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ on religious grounds.

In the US, just last week, a New Jersey judge ruled against a Christian retreat house that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises, saying the Constitution allows ‘some intrusion into religious freedom.”

Outside of the same sex ‘marriage’ issue, we’ve seen Christian pastors locked up for speaking on the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was sentenced to a month in prison for having offended homosexuals in a sermon.

In Ontario, Canada, the Liberal State government has attacked the Catholic church for failing to allow for clubs for homosexual students in its schools. The courts are now ruling against the church and ordering they provide them.

And it may be news to the secularists but church buildings are not where Christians check-in and check-out the practice of their beliefs.

Christianity is a lived experience and Christians are called to remain true to their faith in all aspects of their lives.

But, despite the admonitions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, nation-states throughout the West have effectively outlawed public observance of Christian belief when it comes to same sex related issues.

In November last year, Dutch MPs voted to prevent Christian civil servants refusing to conduct gay marriages.

In 2004, Mitt Romney, then Governor of Massachusetts, ordered Justices of the Peace to perform homosexual marriages when requested or to be fired.

Again in November last year, it was reported that a Christian baker in Iowa who politely declined to provide a wedding cake for two lesbians will now have legal action commenced against her.

Last week, the British Court of Appeals ruled that a Christian couple who own a bed and breakfast in Cornwall and who refused to allow a gay couple to share a bed in their establishment, must pay $5,700 in damages to the gay couple.

Another Christian, a café owner in England, in September last year, was warned by police to stop showing DVDs of the New Testament in his café after a customer complained about its passage against homosexuality.

This Christophobia, this systemic denial of Christians to follow their conscience, is happening all around the world and it will too occur here in Australia unless the law remains steadfast on the issue of marriage.

It has already begun to some extent. The Australia Education Union in its policy paper on GLBTI people states that they “will develop strategies to counter homophobia at an institution level” including in “religious institutions” which they say “are to be condemned for their discriminative attitudes and approaches”. Presumably, these strategies will take place in classrooms and we will have the children of all major faiths, Christian, Jewish and Islamic children, being told that their religion is to be condemned.

At the government level, the Attorney General has released a discussion paper on proposed federal anti-discrimination changes. That paper suggests some exemptions be offered to religious organisations, except from those connected with “sexual orientation”.

In a pre-emptive strike, Archbishop Barry Hickey of the Roman Catholic Church has flagged his Perth archdiocese will simply surrender its marriage license if they’re compelled to perform same sex marriages. Maybe this is the end result that the Christophobes are pushing for?

Because despite cleverly concocted exemptions that seek to dull the Christian voters’ concerns over proposed same sex marriage laws, if we redefine marriage nothing will stop the advance of Christophobia, a march that, in Australia, is done to the beat of both the Greens’ and Labor’s drum.

 George Christensen is the Federal Member for Dawson. 


Marriage should remain the gold standard

Cory-Bernardi Marriage is not the institution it once was, writes Senator Cory Bernardi.

Since my appointment to the Senate I have written letters of congratulations to
those reaching 100 years of age or celebrating a golden wedding anniversary. I
must have personally signed thousands of such letters and always do so with a
smile. To me these events are truly significant and with each signature, a part
of me celebrates with them.

Over time I have written to the
same people more than once as they reach other milestones of longevity – either
personal or marital union. Thanks to medical technology more of us are living
through our tenth decade but I suspect that far fewer of us will be celebrating
magnificent marriage milestones in the future.

Having just signed a
congratulatory letter to a couple celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary, I
cannot help but wonder how many other couples will get anywhere near this
feat.

And quite a feat it is. The very
idea of spending 73 years married to the same person would be incredulous to
many people today. And yet marriage is a covenant which was always intended to
be entered into 'until death do us part'. As we live longer, why then are we
failing to live up to this promise?

A thousand experts could spend
years and still not provide the answer but that doesn't mean we should give up
on marriage and its importance to our society.

Is it any coincidence that as
the stability of marriage appears to have declined in our community, the level
of social disorder and dysfunction seems to have risen proportionately?

Columnist Miranda Devine
reported that a UK family court judge recently noted that family breakdown is
the cause of most social ills and that, despite its faults, marriage should be
restored as the "gold standard" and social stigma should be re-applied to those
who destroy family life.

"What is a matter of private
concern when it is on a small scale becomes a matter of public concern when it
reaches epidemic proportions," the judge said.

I couldn't agree more.

Over decades past, the social
mores that have sustained our society have progressively broken down. Whilst
only anecdotal, the increasing prevalence of non-permanent relationships
replacing the traditional role of marriage appears to be having a negative
impact on our children and our society.

We have higher levels of teen
depression and suicide than ever before. Substance abuse, violence and bullying
are increasingly prevalent, while an array of newly identified 'disorders'
afflict growing numbers of children.

Something is clearly going wrong
but one would be hard pressed to place your finger on exactly what it is. Some
may link video games with violence, new media with bullying or drug use with
depression.  However, one cannot fail to
identify that many of these issues have coincided with a decline in our societal
attitude towards marriage.

Too often when marriages fail, a
father or mother is replaced with a revolving door of lovers who temporarily
assume the parental role. This must have an impact on the children exposed to
such an environment – and it can scarcely be positive.

That's why I continue to take
great joy in congratulating couples on their decades of life together. It is
something that I hope every married couple aspires to on the day they make their
vows. Restoring the permanent intentions of marriage would be a step in giving
our children the best possible chance for their future and the society our
grandchildren will inherit.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at http://www.corybernardi.com.

The Sex Files?

Jerome-Appleby Stop wasting public funds on the Human Rights Commission, writes Jerome Appleby.

In March 2009, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) handed down the concluding paper of its ‘sex and gender diversity’ project.  The paper, entitled ‘Sex files: The legal recognition of sex in legal documents’, contained all sorts of kooky recommendations.

A recent news report about a man who is encountering problems having his “change of sex” recognised by the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages suggests that the AHRC is about to ramp up a campaign to have these recommendations implemented.  This should be of concern to all Australians.

The Sex Files paper includes 15 recommendations which seek to radically alter the meaning and understanding of sex.

Recommendation 1 of the Sex Files project is that ‘Marital status should not be a relevant consideration as to whether or not a person can request a change in legal sex.’  This is clearly a Trojan horse for same-sex marriage.

Recommendation 3 cuts straight to the heart of the matter and is probably the most potentially destructive of the lot -  an Alice in Wonderland-type recommendation.  It seeks, amongst other things, for there to be ‘greater allowance for people to self-identify their sex’. 

It doesn’t take a genius to work out what that means: if you think you are a female, then you are one.  The fact that in reality you are an otherwise normally functioning male doesn’t matter.  You are not even required to undergo ‘sex change’ surgery, not that such oddly-named surgery can actually change a male to a female, or vice versa.

What makes all this even worse is that taxpayers are forced to fund this nonsense produced by the AHRC.  In 2009/2010 the organization is to receive approximately $12 million in taxpayer funding.  It’s time the tap was turned off.

Jerome Appleby is a law graduate and is South Australian state officer of the National Civic Council and Australian Family Association

What Australian women really want

The Australian feminist lobby speaks on behalf of very few Australian women, writes Nona Florat.

It is a matter for grave concern that politicians of an Emily's List mindset presume to speak for Australian women. As an Australian woman, I take strong exception. It was pointed out by Sen. George Brandis that the Deputy Prime Minister is not a parent. Neither am I. But I warmly congratulate Tony Abbott for having the courage to speak up for the dignity of the human person, and for family values that have been recognised throughout human history.

Sensational and hackneyed phraseology of so-called "angry Australian women", is typical of an aggressive minority, which is a remnant of the 1960s version of feminism. The agenda of such a group is out-of-touch with women of the 21st century.

Women are not a minority. We constitute half the population, and are capable of taking our rightful place in the public square, as well as in academic and professional life, without relying on patronising "spoon-feeding", such as affirmative action.

In the political sphere, a discerning voter does not cast his or her vote based on gender, ethnic background, religious affiliation, or other such characteristics of a candidate. The only authentic criteria are policy and competency. Membership of a party is taken into account, but the determining factor is appraisal of an individual politician as our representative.

Highly vocal militant lobbies do not speak for those groups whom they are supposed to represent. Radical feminists do not speak for women, aggressive homosexual activists do not speak for persons who experience same-sex attraction, and terrorists do not speak for the Muslim community. The list can go on. Recognition of the intrinsic dignity of every human person is the focus of civilised society. If that line is crossed, any faction forfeits its own dignity and credibility.

It is astounding that many seem unaware that an obsession with an imposed sexualisation of youth, and promotion of adolescent promiscuity, is responsible for the proliferation of teen pregnancy and STDs. That is far from being healthy or normal.

For instance there is a huge problem with teen pregnancy in Britain, among other countries. 
To combat this, taxpayers' money has been poured into "comprehensive" sex education. In spite of this, or rather because of this, the problem has been aggravated. That is no surprise to those who are guided by common sense, rather than by political correctness.

In discussion concerning a proposed Bill of "Rights", parental rights have been conspicuous by their absence. It is common knowledge that motherhood is an anathema to an aggressive feminist lobby, and fatherhood is even more disparaged.  This runs counter to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. (Article 16,3)
  • Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection (Article 25,2)
  • Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Article 26,3)

Marriage is a public recognition of the responsibility of parents for the children whom their union brings into the world, and of concomitant parental rights.

Irresponsible promotion of "recreational sex", "recreational drugs", "recreational violence", "recreational smoking", or whatever, indisputably produces harm for society, and especially for victims who fall prey to such misleading messages. A suggested solution of "harm reduction", is, if possible, is even more deleterious. The only valid solution is to address the source of the problem. Imagine doctors daring to tell patients what to do with their bodies!

Imposition of beliefs on society, wrongly attributed to religious influence, can, in most cases, be easily traced to an agenda of militant lobbyists, who seem incapable of distinguishing between freedom and licence.

Tony Abbott was exercising a right to speak as a parent, and was not proposing legislation. It is not a role of government to legislate for moral principle, but it is a duty of government to protect parental rights.

Nona Florat is a retired academic librarian. Her website can be found at http://www.humanvaluesaust.iinet.net.au/ 

Abbott’s words inspire more than they provoke fear

Monica-Oshea

Listen to Tony Abbott and not the commentators, writes Monica O'Shea.

It is clear the media, Gillard and left-wing commentators have been waiting for an opportunity to jump on Abbott and his so-called extreme conservative views. 
Early this week, when details of his interview with Women’s Weekly were released, the left exploded.  The only problem is they did so unfairly.

Gillard and many prominent left-wing commentators have since labelled Abbott as a religious fanatic who is trying to dictate their lives.  Some media outlets were claiming that Abbott was telling women to wait until marriage. 

Firstly, he didn’t say that.  And secondly, portraying such a comment in a negative light may give women the impression that waiting for the right person is a bad thing.

If women want to wait for the right person, they should be able to do so without being made to feel terrible by Gillard and left-wing commentators. 

Contrary to what Gillard believes, almost all parents, and some young women, would have agreed with Abbott’s words: 

“It happens … I think I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question … it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving, and don't give it to someone lightly, that is what I would say."

A more accurate description of his words would have been inspiring. 

There is nothing wrong with having aspirations for your children. Most parents do. Very few parents would be encouraging their children to lose their virginity at the first opportunity. 

My parents certainly didn’t, and, I find it hard to think of any parent who would.  Most parents want the best for their children. And giving up their virginity to one of the hordes of young men who may readily take advantage of them is certainly not what is best. 

But it’s not only parents who would have been inspired by Abbott’s words.  It’s also young women. 

Growing up I met very few women who were in a rush to give the gift of their virginity away lightly. However, I sensed sometimes that women felt pressured that it was expected of them once they reached a certain age. 

As a teenager, I often read Dolly, Cosmopolitan and Girlfriend magazines. I still remember the stories about young teenagers who had lost their virginity or were thinking about losing it for the first time.  I was frightened one day when I learned that the average age for losing ones virginity was approximately 17.   This did not inspire me at all.  In fact, it frightened me.  At the time, hearing the words of Abbott would have filled me with relief.

When Gillard heard of Abbott’s interview with Women’s Weekly she had the following to say: 

"These comments will confirm the worst fears of Australian women about Tony Abbott. Australian women don't want to be told what to do by Tony Abbott.

"Australian women want to make their own choices and they don't want to be lectured to by Mr Abbott."

There is nothing in what Abbott had to say that suggests he was telling women what to do, lecturing them, or that he was confirming their worst fears.  

Somehow, I can’t see Abbott announcing a policy or introducing legislation to prevent women from making choices about their virginity. 

It seems that when it comes to advice about relationship, love and marriage, the scales are tipping too far to the left.  We are lucky to have leaders like Abbott who will steer us in the right direction.

Monica works in the public service and is involved in the Young Liberal Movement in South Australia.