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“Same-Sex Marriage” Survey

Some critical thinking is desperately needed

If we want the best solution to a problem we need to ask the right question. Not only is the question on the survey papers not the right one, but there is a lot of confusion about what we actually need to achieve. Contrary to assertions by some people, the move by the Federal Government, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, to revise the wording of the Marriage Act did NOT change the meaning of "marriage". All it did was clarify the definition of marriage as being that relationship, between a man and a woman, which had existed for thousands of years, and which didn't need clarifying until the LGBTI communities started pushing for marriage to be open to same gender couples.

I know a number of homosexual people who are in long-lasting, deeply committed loving relationships. In fact, their relationships are often a better example of what we should expect from a marriage than the ones we see between heterosexual people who are actually married. I believe that the loving and committed relationships between homosexual couples should be honoured, respected, and supported just as much as marriage is. However, I cannot vote “Yes” in the current, very expensive, survey being run by the Australian government. Why? Because I believe that some critical thinking about the situation would lead us to a far better solution than to change the meaning of a word which represents a relationship which has existed for over 8000 years.

As “a child who was born on the Sabbath Day” (Sunday) I am supposed to be “happy, and blithe, and good, and gay”, and as I grew up I fell in love with the song “A Bachelor Gay Am I”. However, homosexual communities adopted the word “gay” and shifted the generally understood meaning from “light-hearted and carefree” to “homosexual [man]”.

English is a living language, and, as such, new words are created almost every day. We have no problem identifying brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, and several other combinations, using different words despite there being very little difference between the pairs. In fact, all those quoted represent equivalent relationships which are different only in the gender of the person concerned. Why, then, do we not get some of Australia’s linguists to come up with a word to represent a committed, loving relationship between two men or two women, representing a relationship which is very similar to, but definitely not identical to, that of a married heterosexual couple? Such a word could be enshrined in legislation, and the rights of the couple made to match as closely as possible those of married couples, without the need for an expensive poll, which isn’t even binding on parliament.

What I have noted from comments being made from both sides of the debate on “same-sex marriage” is a lack of tolerance of someone else’s opinion, and a demand for either the status quo or a change of definition of “marriage” as if those were the only possible solutions to the problem. They aren’t! Let’s think critically about the situation and not ignore matters raised by both sides.

All references to homosexuality, in the Hebrew and Christian canonical scriptures, were based on the understanding that there were men, and there were women, and never the twain should meet. It's interesting to note that Jesus Christ never said anything about the subject. Not until the middle of the 19th century did we have any understanding of genetics, and now we know that there are many genes affecting characteristics we often attribute to one gender or the other. For most homosexual people there is no choice about being homosexual.

The experience in the UK should be a lesson for us as we deal with the issue in Australia. The UK government opted, in 2014, to change its definition of “marriage” in accordance with the wishes of the homosexual communities and their supporters. Since then there have been numerous cases where people who have expressed an opinion against same-sex unions have been sacked, withdrawn from study programmes, or even threatened with withdrawal of medical licences – just for expressing an opinion to which they are entitled. That’s just a snippet from Andrea Williams, a UK barrister who recently visited Australia and whose organisation in the UK, alone, deals with about 200 cases a year. The voice of opposition is being silenced because the implications of the change were not fully thought through and mitigated. A number of “No” campaigners in Australia have raised concern that these issues have not been addressed with the proposal to change the meaning of “marriage”, but their expressions of concern have been ridiculed or shelved for later consideration. It’s important that those issues are dealt with before any change to legislation on marriage, because there is no guarantee they will be addressed otherwise, and if not addressed ahead of any change will never be able to be implemented.

Let’s not keel over and submit to this issue without thinking through all aspects of the matter respectfully and thoroughly.

I welcome an opportunity to show support for homosexual couples who wish to enter a committed and deeply loving relationship which brings rights closely associated with marriage, but I strongly believe changing the definition of “marriage” is not the way to go. Please vote NO in the survey, not because those relationships shouldn’t be honoured but because there is a much better way.

© 2017 Steven Secker, Social Justice Advocate