It's time to stop using religion as an excuse for homophobia

"Extending the wonderful and imaginary institution of marriage to include the gay community is not a suitable subject for an opinion poll."

 

Marriage is just another legal contract. Invented by humans and argued over by lawyers, politicians and various religious organisations. But while anything handled by any combination of these three entities is likely to end in a complete mess, fortunately all of them have been very willing in the past to make major changes and U-turns when it suited them.

So, why the fuss over gay marriage? The country is already filled with straight and gay couples who live together. The only anomaly is that some of these couples cannot marry simply because they are the same sex. Yet by allowing them to get married they will still be in the same relationship as they are now. Civilization will not collapse, the human population will not magically become gay and life will go on. Oh, and the Coalition for Marriage will have additional potential members.

But the most significant outcome when gay people are permitted to marry will be that the number of happy people in this country will increase. Horrifying, isn’t it?

The marriage my wife and I enjoy is one of enduring love, equality and partnership. This is something we could achieve without being married, but as a heterosexual couple, we have the right to choose if we wish to partake in legal matrimony. You know, the thing gay people are currently excluded from. A holy institution our leaders believe was invented by their god, sanctioned by the bible and endorsed by Tony Abbott.

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It appears the sole purpose of this government is to deny the gay community the benefit of the same choice as the heterosexual community. Or at least to delay the right for them to legally marry. That’s right, our government fervently wishes to continue this disgraceful discrimination against many of our fellow citizens. And not only is Malcolm Turnbull too weak and cowardly to allow a conscience vote, he is now asking all Australians if they want this bigoted practise to continue.

Unfortunately, there are apparently a number of Australians who will vote no in the opinion poll. Actually, astounding, given that this is 2017. Maybe the government could add another question asking if women and aboriginal people should continue to have the right to vote. It would certainly be consistent with the Turnbull government’s current idiocy.

It’s hard to fathom why anyone would vote no to an expression of love, which carries the added benefit of enhanced social cohesion. Even Tony Abbott, with his desperate ramblings in the newspapers, can’t make a case for the no side. When I read his ‘arguments’ I can only think that he is a prisoner of some weird 1950s social regression condition. Get over it or get some counselling, Tony. Allowing gay marriage will not turn you gay!

So, what’s really going on? The naysayers become very defensive when they are called bigots and homophobes. They are entitled to their opinion, aren’t they? Well, no, not if they are unable to cite a single instance in which gay marriage will actually result in anything negative or detrimental to them personally or society in general whatsoever. To vote no in these circumstances is hurtful and mean-spirited. People do not have the right to deny anyone the same basic rights they have themselves without a bloody good reason. And in the case of gay marriage or any other question of equality, inclusion and fairness, there are no good reasons to say no, bloody or otherwise. Unless, of course, being homophobic or bigoted are now classified as legitimate reasons.

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But, you may say, that’s unfair. Many of us who will vote no are not bigots or homophobes; we are merely protective of tradition. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Always has been. Always should be. It’s god’s word and who are we to defy god? I don’t hate gay people – some of my best friends are gay – I am opposed to gay marriage solely because marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!

Nice try, but unless I’m mistaken, it’s a long time since god had anything to say about marriage. And when he allegedly did, people did not marry because they loved each other and wanted to share their lives. Until recently, marriage was a property exchange in which a woman or, more likely, a very young girl left the ownership of her father to become – hopefully – a son-producing chattel of her husband. A marriage certificate was simply a title deed which stated a man owned a new slave, who he could legally dominate, beat and abuse at his leisure. It was a pretty good way of controlling women back in the day and it took a very long time to change that tradition, but over time society evolved and realised it was unfair to treat women so appallingly merely because they were women.

And so, thankfully, that tradition – like so many others – changed over the centuries, even though it was entrenched and, yes, traditional. Perhaps that’s what Tony Abbott is so angry about.

Extending the wonderful and imaginary institution of marriage to include the gay community is not a suitable subject for an opinion poll. But sadly, a survey is currently the only thing on the table, so if we want to believe ourselves to be members of a fair, inclusive, welcoming and equal society, then a yes vote in this bizarre poll is a simple way of expressing both common sense and common decency. A way of telling our government that we expect them to drag themselves into the twenty-first century and quickly end this deplorable, inexcusable and cruel discrimination.

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Gay people can then rightfully join the rest of us in being able to decide whether they wish to enjoy this blissful, hallucinogenic state – those of us who are allowed – call marriage.

How do you feel about the sam-sex marriage vote?