Editors note: The news that the Coalition is pushing ahead with a postal vote on the issue of marriage equality has sparked debate at water coolers and breakfast tables across the country. If you need some ammo to fire back at your bigoted great uncle, look no further than this – our favourite article on the topic, written by former Mamamia writer, current journo at The Australian and all-round great human being, Rick Morton.
There has been a lot of talk about this gay marriage business bringing about the end of the world. Something about The Gays unhinging their collective maws and swallowing villages whole. It’s a compelling argument if you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras and mistaken it for the world’s most fabulous army invading the streets.
Listen: C’mon Malcolm. This is what we really want to hear. (Post continues after audio.)
We’re here, we’re queer and we’re annexing your collection of interior design manuals. However, contrary to popular belief, The Gays aren’t trying to take over the streets. Urban gentrification is about as militant as we get, believe me.
So to help those who feel like they need to keep peddling the marriage-go-round of mistruths, I have compiled this Stupendous Compendium of Anti-Gay Marriage Arguments (and why they’re wrong).
1. It’s about religion.
No, it isn’t. Going to church is about religion. Loving thy neighbour is about religion. Marriage is a secular contract presided over by Government. Like taxes. Atheists get married. Religious people get married. Some churches won’t marry inter-racial couples, or previously divorced couples. They’re welcome to. That’s their right. But that doesn’t preclude these people from marriage altogether. Because it’s secular.
2. Legalising gay marriage only affects a small number of people, why bother?
There are two flaws with this. If we’d followed this logic then we would have had no black civil rights movement. And asking ‘why bother’ about a human rights imbalance is a little like ignoring the service station when your car is on fire and your face is melting. Tis merely a flesh wound, come back and I’ll bite your knee caps off! The ‘only them’ argument has consistently been shown, throughout history, to be reprehensible. We cannot afford to stand by while ‘only them’ becomes a chorus of our own inability to act. One day, and this is the lesson we still haven’t learned, ‘only them’ could become ‘only you’. It’s a lonely outpost. Would they care to make the same argument about disability funding?
3. It’s about procreation.
Then you might also want to ban marriages that take place later in life, beyond a couple’s child bearing years. Or you might consider banning marriage for heterosexual couples who don’t want children. Families are about procreation or adoption or surrogacy. Marriage is about love between two individuals. The idea that we must procreate to protect the human race was spawned, forgive the pun, during a time when sabre toothed tigers were an actual health threat and actual health care consisted of medicinal screaming. So yes, prolific bonking used to be a shared duty. The times have changed, somewhat.
4. We have more important problems to deal with!
This is disingenuous. Yes, I will help you with your civil rights movement but really, this trash isn’t going to take itself out. This is a familiar refrain. We have to fix health care! We have to fix the welfare system! And we do, we do. But if Government’s cannot multi-task, especially to instate a basic right of equality, then we are all in a little bit of trouble. And if you forever want to put gay marriage on the backburner, because the country has had a sudden need to legislate invisible cigarette packages, then we’ve successfully woven a beautiful too-hard-basket that would look simply delightful as the centrepiece on a hardwood table, fit for a gay.
5. Homosexuality is against the natural order!
And so are those farm animal ornaments with slinkies for legs. But they’re still in our homes. Truth be known – and science can be a wonderful master – homosexuality occurs quite often in nature. If you’ve never seen a pair of male dolphins doing miraculous things with their blowholes, you haven’t been watching enough SBS. Christian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas was a bit of a fan of looking to nature for validation of humanity’s own habits, which might explain the brief fad in the early days of raising our young in a burrow. There are actually some animals that spontaneously change sex from male to female and vice versa, so relying on the ‘natural order’ of things is rather a bit misleading.
6. Homosexuality is a choice. They made their gay bed, let them lie in it.
There is only one group of people capable of answering the question of choice and homosexuals. They are The Gays. I happen to be one of these. I was born this way. I like men the same way you know you like the opposite sex. Nobody taught you to. You just do. You’re hardwired and so am I. The implication that gay kids, a larger proportion of whom commit suicide because of horrendous bullying and identity issues, would choose to endure the torture of their childhoods is insulting. It’s insulting and you have no authority to tell us you know better. Because unless you’re gay, you don’t.
7. It’s a slippery slope. Just wait until The Gays can marry their brothers. Who are also animals.
Consent. Repeat after me. Animals cannot provide consent and beastiality is an avenue where consent cannot be provided in a ‘loving’ relationship. Unless you’re donkey has a Speak ‘n’ Say, there is no consent. And there are medical reasons why incest is frowned upon. But there is no decent, scientific, medical or moral reason why two loving, consenting, non-related adults should not be afforded the same rights as the majority.
8. It’s about morality, man. Think of morality, won’t you?
Two words. Las Vegas. Shotgun weddings that last 43 minutes aren’t really the pinnacle of morality. Nor are they sacred, for that matter. It’s only a slight affront that a heterosexual couple jacked up on cocaine and the better part of an entire bar can slur ‘I do’ with the full support of the law. That The Gays are forced to settle for ‘I Would’, even while measured against this same impressive yardstick, is simply unintelligible. Nothing is more moral, one would have thought, than a couple willing to devote themselves to each other for the rest of their lives. And this is true in the eyes of the law if you have both a penis and a vagina. You must have one of each between you lest you be cursed forever more to de facto relationships and cloudy legal rights in your old age. Morality indeed.
9. I totally agree, but let’s not call it marriage. Let them have civil unions!
Ahem. Let them eat cake? Those who adopt this argument can be the most frustrating as this is the one that glosses over the exact issue at stake here. This isn’t about every gay wanting to marry. This isn’t about the words themselves. It’s about what the options are and who has access to them. Apartheid South Africa had a water fountain for blacks and water fountains for whites. Essentially, nobody is missing out except that they’re both lapping at an entrenched division made possible by discrimination. Call it whatever you want. Call it Skiddlepop, if you must, but give it to everybody. If one doesn’t, then discrimination continues. Refusing to amend the Marriage Act is tantamount to saying The Gays are not worthy of the institution. And blacks aren’t worthy of the same drinking fountains, nor women the vote. Oh, history, it’s like an embarrassing echo.
10. I like gay people, but I don’t think they should be allowed to marry.
Let me guess, you also have lots of gay friends? And I have a hat made from kitten whiskers. You might like them – everyone has that token gay guy who hogs the karaoke machine at company functions and they’re a right hoot, I’m sure – but you don’t respect them. And respect is really what we’re after here.
11. But the Marriage Act clearly says it is between a Man and Woman!
Stop shouting. Yes, it does. Unfortunately that Act wasn’t amended by scholars in the 4th Century. It was amended by John Howard. In 2004. It was a deliberate move to exclude and it didn’t take long to execute. Amending the Act would be simple and absolutely no impediment to the debate whatsoever.
12. Well, here's my analogy about a soccer player joining an AFL game and wanting the rules changed.
Except the soccer player did choose to be a soccer player. And AFL isn’t the only game in town. And then all the men shower together at the end anyway. Hang on.
13. But, why should The Gays get special treatment?
(If by special, you mean unequal.) The Gays don’t want more than what the straights have. We want the same. Which is ironic, because that’s what homo means.
15. But if we let The Gays marry, I might turn gay.
No, you won’t. Honest. We’ll even promise to stop casting spells on your testosterone or oestrogen. Promise. It’s actually scientifically proven that touching a gay, or hearing about a gay wedding will have absolutely no bearing on your life whatsoever. Some very brave scientists risked homosexuality to empirically test this hypothesis, so best you show them some respect.
16. But a gay wedding would ruin my heterosexual marriage!
False. Unless a gay couple in the middle of their nuptials literally fell on top of your wedding ceremony, this is not going to happen. And I think you’ll agree that is a very unlikely course of events. Unless we all of a sudden legalise gay air weddings, which is just plain dangerous.
17. But if we let them marry, then they’ll have kids and we’ll end up with a gay society.
This one is simple. I am gay. My parents are not. Work it out.
18. It's about tradition.
Here are some other traditional things: slavery, women not being allowed to vote, leg warmers, witch hunts, lynchings, stonings, horses as a principal means of transport, sacrifices of disabled children to the Gods, living in caves.
Yeah, an argument of 'tradition' is an argument against meaningful progress. Good luck with that one and all.
Sigh. You really can't argue against that. Can you?
And just in case you need a final reminder... Remember this?
Have we forgotten any of the common arguments against gay marriage?