Gay marriage rites

I think I am in favour of gay marriage, on balance, with some reservations. I would not wave placards in the street, or even change my vote on this issue.

Yet it seems that this moderate position is not considered ethical. There is almost zero tolerance among some people for anything other than strident uncritical support for gay marriage. No caveats, qualifications or maybes are allowed. Never mind that twenty years ago many of the same people would have smirked at the very notion.

Remember the Jason Akermanis saga four years ago? A reasonably thoughtful article raised the ire of the righteous for advising gay footballers to stay stumm. Yes, there are things you can take exception to in his article, but there is nothing hateful in it, and he is even self reflective when he says

What I should have done was to sit down and talk with him in an attempt to understand his life

His comments unleashed the lynch mob and arguably led to the early end of his football career. This ensures that real homophobes will keep their views to themselves … and their team mates.

Support for gay marriage is also apparently obligatory for anyone who believes in equal opportunity and human rights.  In 2012, Professor Kuruvilla George was forced to resign from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission within 24 hours of it emerging that he had signed a Senate inquiry submission arguing against gay marriage. Seems the right to free speech is not a core issue for the VEOHRC.

In support of the forced resignation, Phil Lynch of the Human Rights Law Centre opined

 There is a lack of tenability between his position on same sex marriage equality and those obligations and duties (of the Commission).

Really? Exclusion of same sex partners from marriage was and is the current law of the land! It was the policy of then Premier Ted Baillieu whose government oversaw the Commission! Traditional marriage was supported by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  How can you get fired for being in such illustrious company?

In late 2013 the High Court struck down the ACT gay marriage legislation on technical rather than moral grounds. Surely, their even hearing the case is proof that they are hateful homophobes who are against the notion of equal rights and they should be sacked, right? Or the other possibility is that the argument for gay marriage on the basis of equal rights is bollocks.

Regardless of your ultimate stance on gay marriage, it is important that false arguments do not gain public currency.  Once bollocks is woven into the fabric politic, it quickly leads us where we don’t want to go.

The arguments below occurred to me almost immediately that gay marriage first became an issue. I am not the first or only person to air these ideas. They are obvious. Many people have (often crudely and sometimes maliciously) made similar observations quite independently, yet you will never hear these points properly considered in the opinions pages of the Age or discussed on the ABC or articulated on Q&A.


If marriage is a right then it must be granted to polygamists. To artificially limit the definition of marriage to the union of only two people carries no more weight than limiting it to the union of a man and a woman – as the prime  minister (both previous and current) is ridiculed for doing. It is arbitrary. In fact, it carries even less weight because there is no biological basis for monogamy.

Moreover, in as much as religions like Mormonism (and to a lesser extent Islam) have allowed it, banning polygamy is then an imposition of traditional Christian values on those of other faiths. And equal treatment of people of different religions is certainly an existing and widely supported principle of liberal democracies.

For these reasons, I believe that the equality argument, if you are going to rely on it, is stronger for polygamy than for gay marriage.

Keep in mind though that I think the equality argument itself is bollocks. Nor do I have any fears that polygamy will suddenly be on the political agenda if we allow gay marriage, though it should be if the equality argument was the basis and we are going to be consistent. So this is not a fear-mongering slippery slope argument. It is a “your argument leads us to bollocks so it must be bollocks” argument.

Incest (between consenting adults)

But it gets worse. Even marriage between siblings or between parents and off-spring (as low demand as there is for it) becomes necessary if we fall for the argument of equality and human rights. Why should loving siblings who want to marry be denied this “equal right”?

The usual retort is that the equality argument cannot apply because procreation by close relatives involves genetic incompatibility. But not allowing siblings to marry does not stop them procreating. More important though, if genetic compatibility is a pre-requisite to marry and reproduce then those who carry the gene for cystic fibrosis, haemophilia or thallassemia must surely be banned from marriage. When haemophiliacs marry, 100% of the male offspring will suffer from the disease and at least 50% of the daughters will be carriers. And while such couples are offered genetic counseling they are legally entitled to marry.

Our society steadfastly refuses to legislate against marriage, or other legal contracts, on the basis of even extreme and specific genetic risk. One can hardly then ban siblings marrying on the basis of very slightly elevated chances of unspecified genetic disorders. And what about infertile siblings for whom there would be no such risk? Is everybody comfortable with invoking the marriage equality principle for sterile siblings? How about your post menopausal mum?

No. The reason siblings (or parents and children) may not marry has nothing to do with genetics though this may be part of the historical source. It has everything to do with upholding tradition notions of family structures, religious teachings, and the simple “yuk” factor. There is no logical argument against sibling marriage that I am aware of that does not lead to consequences that both I, and the gay marriage lobby, would not accept.

Absent a genetic argument then, there seems no reason why the equal rights principle that is used to justify gay marriage would not also imply that siblings may marry. Not, I stress again, that I am worried that sibling marriage is on anyone’s agenda, but one never knows where legal precedent might lead us.


It is idiotic to even raise this. Animals cannot enter into legal contracts at all. Cory Bernardi is a malicious crank who is playing to an audience of religious zealots. Let’s move on then.

International human rights

Many argue that gay marriage is a right enshrined in article 16.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Remember that this declaration was ratified in 1948 when homosexual activity itself was illegal in most countries including Australia. What was in the minds of the drafters and UN delegates at the time?

The 48 countries voting in favour included Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Do we really think that the intention of article 16.1 was to enshrine gay marriage as a universal right and that these three countries signed up to the notion? Were the first three words “Men and women” deliberately chosen, as the gay marriage lobby would imply, to allow for the possibility that men may marry men? Or were they chosen assuming that men would marry women? I think the question answers itself.

And again, if you are going to interpret section 16.1 literally, don’t we end up with polygamy again? After all, “men and women” is in the plural! Monogamy could have been signaled by starting with the phrase “A man and a woman.”

If the drafters were trying to establish the groundwork for gay marriage in 1948 then they would have begun section 16.1 with “Any two adults.” End of story.

The UN rights argument is legal trickery at its worst, trying to force us to a predetermined outcome through word play rather than convince us by argument. Indeed, the way some people appeal to UN bills and conventions reminds me of the way religious zealots appeal (selectively) to the bible or papal decree to convince us that homosexuality is a sin.

What is marriage?

The equal right to marriage principle is pure bollocks. And it is not harmless bollocks because it imposes ridiculous consequences that we recognise are not moral necessities.

I think that the source of the nonsense is that marriage is not a right at all, primarily because a marriage contract is not necessary to be a couple. It is entirely optional. De-facto relationships are virtually identical in law and the marriage contract has few binding implications, apart from limiting your ability to marry others. So it is a legal obligation rather than a right. Those who are not married do not suffer any legal disadvantage (Ok, there are a couple of things still to tighten up here which should be fixed). So marriage not being a right, applying the equal rights principle to gay marriage or indeed polygamy is a non-sequitur.

Now if marriage is not a right, not an obligation, what is it in 2015?

The marriage vows are a personal but non-binding promise. You can make them without legal permission and you can break them just as easily. The marriage ceremony is a celebration of a particular relationship which again does not require state sanction. Your family and friends do not need legal license to come to the reception.

So the marriage contract that so many are demanding as a right is actually an essentially empty legal document, an unnecessary state addition to personal vows and community ceremony. It’s not a right – it’s a rite. It is a symbolic formal public endorsement of a relationship, in the abstract, as an ideal. Last time I checked, endorsement of anything was not a moral principle. Only tolerance is.

The Age, who have advocated for gay marriage quite shamelessly, now seem to have come to a different form of reasoning:

The state should not be the ultimate arbiter of who consenting adults choose to marry.

So having slammed politicians for not changing the law, it is apparently now not even something the state should have an interest in. Yet the marriage contract is something bestowed by the state. Oxymoron from beginning to end. But there’s more. Where does the state-should-get-out-of-it principle leave us on polygamy and incest? Oh dear. Seems the Age editors didn’t think this one through but were just enjoying the sound of their own moralistic preaching.

How to think about the issue

So where does this leave the issue of gay marriage?

It means that if you support gay marriage you will have to find other reasons. Those reasons are not absolute. Your reasons and views may be valid but others may have a different view and you will not be able to prove they are wrong. This is not a position that outraged lobbyists want to hear.

Support for gay marriage is not an issue of fundamental principle. It is a judgment call, even a symbolic gesture; not an imperative that one can demonstrate; not a moral conclusion that all rational and civilised people must come to.

So in summary

  • It is important not to accept the equal rights argument otherwise we are logically bound to reject or accept gay/sibling/polygamous marriage as a bundle.
  • Marriage is not a right because it is an optional and essentially empty legal contract. So the principle of equal rights does not apply.
  • A view on gay marriage is a view on whether you think our society should endorse, formally ratify and celebrate same sex unions.

Your view will depend on your personal level of comfort with the notion of same sex unions. You will have to balance any personal discomfort that you and others may feel against the sense of acceptance that marriage reform may bring to gay couples. The number of gay couples who would benefit compared to the number of those who would be discomforted is also a consideration. In other words, we are talking some kind of utilitarian calculation, not a categorical imperative.

You will need to go through the same thought processes in assessing polygamy and adult incest. My judgment is that the level of discomfort which I and most people feel about gay unions is mild or absent compared to the relief that large numbers of gay couples would feel at public acceptance.

Whereas, my discomfort levels are much higher for incest and there are very few who want to partner with their parent. Now, if a rational consenting adult actually wants to partner their Dad then I am not going to put them in gaol. But I sure as hell won’t endorse it and buy them a wedding present. And I will treat any claim for marriage equality with the contempt it deserves.

“Marriage equality” is a slogan. Just like “toxic tax based on a lie”, it is designed to shut down discussion. Unfortunately though, if I argue against the erroneous principle of marriage equality publicly, many will brand me a hetero-normative bigot with a hateful hidden agenda.

It is a pity that the shrill moralisers cannot get down off their high horse and simply say that they support gay marriage because it will make more people happy than unhappy – in short that they support it just to be nice. They might find they persuade more people than with their current strategy of ridicule, moral condemnation and forced termination of employment.


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101 Responses to Gay marriage rites

  1. Tyler says:

    It’s always enjoyable to read articles condemning minority groups for engaging in the same political sophistry and simplification that typifies all democratic political discussion. You’re right, the argument is simplified and yet you willfully gloss over the fact it has also been enormously successful. The idea that a cause which has shifted the views of around 30% of the population in just over a decade should heed your advice is rather galling.

    As for the rest of course you’re not a homophobe on that basis alone, though if you were uncomfortable with gay unions for some reason clearly you would be. Given the fact that we’ve happily innovated in relation to marriage rights in the past without leading to generalised legal polygamy or incest i’m rather sceptical as to the relevance of those concerns.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      The arguments are made by supporters of gay marriage who may or may not be gay. I have actually found the most aggressive are not gay. So I am not condemning any minority group, I am condemning (if you like using moralistic words) those who make certain arguments and can’t follow them through.

      You also seem to be saying that because the movement has been successful that it is fine for them to use false arguments. That kind of thinking leads to really dark outcomes. Decide where we want to get to, and then make up an argument that appeals to the masses to get there.

      Lastly, I did not suggest that legalised incest will necessarily follow, just that it logically follows. My fellow Australians are fully capable of ignoring their own arguments when it suits them.

      • Hrgh says:

        Extending the logic to polygamy: sure. Makes sense.

        So what’s the problem with that? As long as everything is consensual, no-one is getting hurt, etc etc.

        But to consider residual discomfort with gay marriage and polygamous marriage as analogous with discomfort about incestual relationships is to ignore that the majority of incestual sexual relationships are not consensual, and do involve someone getting hurt.

        You don’t mention marriage restrictions about age, which are closer in function to restrictions on incestual relationships. There is a power dynamic that is typical (note: not universal) in these relationships that needs to be acknowledged.

        The obviousness of this leads me to read your inclusion of incest in this analysis as deliberately tabloid, rather than honest analysis.

        • Chris Lloyd says:

          Hugh. I definitely meant consensual incest between adults. I have edited the post to indicate this.

        • Hrgh says:

          Even still, without wanting to hijack your post with discussion about the nature of incest, incidents of incest between adults have a tendency towards power imbalance, generally originating from before people were adults.

      • Tyler says:

        It’s fortunate that you clarified your post after the fact to make clear you were condemning the moral high handedness of ‘straight allies’ on the issue. I’d hate for your post to display the lack of logical rigour and consistency that you so decry. After all given the constant demand by conservatives that minorities should be model citizens if they want to argue in favour of their basic civic and economic rights you wouldn’t want to confuse anyone of where you’re coming from.

        It’s interesting that your more in sorrow than anger condemnation of the campaign ignores the fact that effective legal and economic equality short of marriage was achieved less than 10 years ago and the impact this might have had on the structure and tone of the campaign up to that point.
        Nonetheless you’re clearly right that inconsistent and extravagant argument can pose a danger in a democratic context. Fortunately the argument in favour of gay liberation and subsequently gay marriage doesn’t pose quite the risk to ongoing public order and safety that our previous sloppy support of various strains of fascist thought did but i’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the brutal imposition of homo-normative values.

        This sort of lazy, contrarian liberal elitism isn’t what i typically expect to find on Clup Troppo.

        • Bill Posters says:

          This sort of lazy, contrarian liberal elitism isn’t what i typically expect to find on Clup Troppo.

          You don’t come here often, then?

  2. John walker says:

    Saint Paul once wrote some advice to a overseas group on love and marriage.. His advice was that, for most of that group , marriage I.e committed exclusive ( heterosexual)relationships were best. He then went on to write:

    “8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

    As a Christian I feel that I cannot say to the gay long term couples that I know that for them ,it is better to burn than marry .

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      So the obvious comment is: how about polygamy and incest? Apparently “if they cannot control themselves they should marry.”

      • John walker says:

        Marriage is ,between two people, is a much easier definition to defend. Bit like arguing that extending the definition of Jewish to include people who have jewish ancestors, but who eat a double cheese burger with added bacon everyday for lunch ,does not render the term Jewish meaningless.

        The issue is to be the subject of discussion at the upcoming Canberra goulburn synod, expect there will be some heat , but hopefully more light, should be interesting.
        Personally theology does not interest me that much, the gospels and Job and the poetry are what gets my love.

        As for incest ,does anybody really think you that would ever get 70% support.

    • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

      so as a Christian you simply dismiss sinful behaviour?

      Strange sort of Christianity. do you support adultery as well because the people are loving?

  3. Sancho says:

    This piece is mired in archaic thinking, from the slippery slope to the finger-wagging about polygamy.

    It’s true that many committed equality supporters would previously have considered the notion of same-sex marriage absurd – people tend to over-correct when they learn they’ve been parroting oppressive nonsense inherited from a prior generation without any critical thought or consideration. That’s maturity, not hypocrisy.

    The polygamy and incest stuff comes directly from the strange world of religious fundamentalism, where a clergy-certified relationship between a man and woman is granted sacred and magical power that any other relationship can only imitate. It’s primitive, and rather embarrassing to see treated seriously at Club Troppo.

    In reality, marriage is simply a contract for taxation and administrative purposes. Any ceremony or sacrament is an unnecessary religious addition. There is no reason not have a general partnership law that allows any two people to enjoy the privileges and penalties currently extended to married couples, and outside that they can live polygamously or deal with the legalities of consent and harm to others incurred by incest.

    Funnily, even the Christian right is moving away from the sort of, yes, hateful and bigoted arguments used here. The ACL’s podcast this week is a hilarious dive into libertarianism and the line that government shouldn’t be regulating marriage at all. God knows how that would help their cause.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      What a very strange comment Sancho. I basically agree with everything you say, and you seem to think I am saying something else. With respect, I think your hostility is a pretty standard reaction when people have the holes in their arguments exposed. It requires rethinking which is stressful: Google cognitive dissonance.

      • Sancho says:

        You agree with everything I say, which is also full of holes?

        There is nothing new in this piece. It’s a reiteration of the same ancient arguments that fell over long ago, with a dose of pearl-clutching about incivility, and the now-standard line that refusing to let religion police peoples’ private lives is a form of censorship.

    • John walker says:

      Is marriage really just a contract, for tax and admin purposes?
      My wife and I ‘lived in sin’ for qute a longtime prior to our tying the knot, ( long story)- we did not notice any changes re our tax arrangements or re admin after we married.
      Surely it is obvious that the emotional heat for and against something that is for most of the hetro population ,the majority of people, fairly abstract, suggests something a bit more heartfelt than administrative arrangements and tax?

      As for polygamy -My first wife was a Malay,grew up on a rice farm in a kampung in the early 50s. Tthere was one foolish loafing stock of a man who had two wives, he was regularly seen sporting black eyes. His two mother in laws used to make his life miserable. How many people really want lots ofmothers in law?
      Doubt it will ever have that much wide apeal , these days.

  4. woulfe says:

    Clearly a genuine attempt to work through the question of equal marriage, but ultimately it continues to let people off the hook who think they can be nice to their same-sex-attracted fellow citizens by keeping them out of sight. Jason Akermanis’ sentiments were rightly condemned, because if I have to hide my sexuality while he doesn’t, then I’m being treated unfairly. Similarly, if he has access to de facto partnership and marriage, but I’m told that I can only avail myself of a de facto relationship, then our nation’s famous fair go principle doesn’t apply to me.

    I’m a little non-plussed that the citing of article 16.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights is followed by the assertion that “marriage is not a right“, but hey, let’s just accept for a moment it might be true: it’s a “symbolic formal public endorsement of a relationship.” The alert fellow citizen would observe that it’s a state-sanctioned “symbolic formal public endorsement of a relationship,” and this is where the difficulties arise. Marriage may not be a right, but equality under the law is, so if the state sanctions a ceremony for Jason Akermanis, it has an obligation to sanction the ceremony for me.

    Consequently I think I’m justified in being impatient with those who deny me equal marriage, not because I think marriage is a right, but because as an Australian citizen, equal treatment under the law is.

    Further, I’m getting just a little bit tired of people thrashing around trying to come to terms with their own yuk factor. They need to get over it. Yesterday.

  5. conrad says:

    I wonder how many people are not fussed at polygamy and incest? I’m not, and clearly nor is the Australian government, since it allows polygamy in some cases (although it won’t marry people), and you can already marry anyone except your mother/father/brother/sister. So your cousin or uncle are fine. I guess it depends if you think the government is here to protect vulnerable groups (clearly the case with polygamy) or to bestow some sort of magic morals that derive from marriage.

    You could look at this in terms of social benefit. With gay couples, there is clearly only benefit if you think marriage has upsides normal relationships don’t, especially with children (this data is unclear to me, but the conservative position is that this is true). With incestuous ones, there are potential genetic effects, but these are going to be so rare who cares? The only cases where this appears serious are ones where cousin marriage is still common (e.g., some Pakistani groups in the UK), but this is legal anyway. Finally, there are clear arguments against polygamy (i.e., surplus of males arguments), but it is again likely to be so rare I wouldn’t worry — if I was worried about that, things like Australia’s immigration program, which I believe takes more males than females, would need to be fixed to change this. But I hear no-one ever complaining about that.

    • conrad says:

      I should also say that with polygamy, I don’t see why rights at the individual level should trump more esoteric long term social goals unless the effects can be shown to be very large.

  6. How to think about the issue

    A more textbook example of mansplaining could hardly be constructed. As we say in Australia, pull your head in sport.

    I thought I may have overextended by accusing this blog of High Broderism, but it has only gotten worse over the past few months.

    • Way to prove his point, monty.

      • I did no such thing, Steve. The section under the heading I quoted leads up to the following summary:

        It is important not to accept the equal rights argument otherwise we are logically bound to reject or accept gay/sibling/polygamous marriage as a bundle.

        This is a simple slippery slope fallacy, no matter how many multisyllabic words are expended to defend it. There’s a reason that logical fallacies are looked down upon as argumentative tactics.

        Marriage is not a right because it is an optional and essentially empty legal contract. So the principle of equal rights does not apply.

        This bare statement is incorrect, as marriage obviously retains a whole lot more social import than a simple contract, and implies a large class of governmental support mechanisms. The assumption is demonstrably wrong, thus the logic evaporates.

        A view on gay marriage is a view on whether you think our society should endorse, formally ratify and celebrate same sex unions.

        Well duh.

        So we have a series of wrong statements based on incorrect assumptions that Chris expects us to swallow just because he supposedly occupies the umpire position between left and right on a centrist blog. That is why I characterised it as mansplaining, because it is a (presumably) heterosexual white male explaining how to think about gay issues to gays and gay supporters in a condescending manner, using fallacious arguments and expecting us to accept them just… because.

        Yet again, Club Troppo attacks the left from the right and calls it centrism.

        • Chris Lloyd says:

          This is a simple slippery slope fallacy. There’s a reason that logical fallacies are looked down upon as argumentative tactics.

          On the contrary, showing an argument may be flawed by showing it leads to untenable positions is quite mainstream.

          “Marriage is not a right because it is an optional and essentially empty legal contract. So the principle of equal rights does not apply”. This bare statement is incorrect, as marriage obviously retains a whole lot more social import than a simple contract, and implies a large class of governmental support mechanisms. The assumption is demonstrably wrong, thus the logic evaporates

          . If the premise is wrong, the logic does not evaporate only the conclusion. Did you ever do a clear thinking course? Anyway, I am open to arguments that marriage contracts are more substantial than I realised, and some commenters have claimed that it is (though I have not had time to check the claims). What is definitely the case though is that advocates for gay marriage have never bothered to argue that the lack of marriage contract is a substantial disadvantage and that is why reform is required. But let’s follow it.

          If de facto’s are at a disadvantage then there is another discussion to have about whether this is acceptable. Ostensibly, society does not discriminate against de factos; though there is no moral argument against it since being de facto is a choice (being gay is not) and the government does require certain declarations to access other kinds of rights. If de factos (which currently include gays) are at a disadvantage then there is a brand new argument for gay marriage. But again, it seems to imply polygamy etc. The point is not to argue for polygamy but for people to realise that their position is not as logically unimpeachable as they think.

          Yet again, Club Troppo attacks the left from the right and calls it centrism.

          Gay marriage is not even a left right issue. Just ask Warren Entsch or Christopher Pine.

          Finally Paul, I do not accept that my tone is any more arrogant or condescending than yours. And linking it to gender is not OK so I will ask you to not use the word mansplaining again.

        • conrad says:

          “Being homosexual is not a choice. ”

          Who cares if it is or isn’t. If 10-15% of women are bisexual, are we to penalize them if they want to marry another woman?

          You might want to think what the role of the government is here — apart from direct self harm, we more or less make our own choices and then the government tries to increase social equity and help us.

          For example, if I choose a job that pays poorly, the government will subsidize me, or if I become unemployed even though I choose not to be, the government will still subsidize me. Similarly, if I play dangerous sports or take illegal drugs, the government will still let me use public hospitals for free after I get ill, and then pay for my rehabilitation. Closer to your examples, I can have a child with down syndrome or any other apriori known genetic disorder with whoever I choose (including ones I can screen for), and the government will not only let me use the hospitals for free, they will subsidize me for my choices that have made my life very difficult.

          So I as far as can tell, choice has little to do with what the government should be doing in these sorts of cases. They should be providing things that increase social equity, and in the case of marriage, unless there are particularly strong reasons to have this as discriminatory (e.g., religiously based school exemptions) I don’t see why anyone or particular group should be excluded. If bisexual females decide they want to have lesbian relationships, and marriage increases their social equity, I really find it hard to see why we should stop them. If people don’t like this I can’t see why we don’t just call this bigatory, and simply appealing to other prejudices they have doesn’t increase or decrease this in my books.

  7. Tripitaka says:


    And this paragraph says all one needs to know about you to understand your motivation Chris.

    “Yet it seems that this moderate position is not considered ethical. There is almost zero tolerance among some people for anything other than strident uncritical support for gay marriage. No caveats, qualifications or maybes are allowed.”

    Did you provide any support for your claim that a moderate position is not considered ethical. What is this moderate position of which you speak? Who says it isn’t ethical? You just made this up from your own feelings.

    And then you say “Never mind that twenty years ago many of the same people would have smirked at the very notion.”

    As if this change in attitude is not a good thing but something that you find reprehensible.

    Seems to me that this attitude that you see in these people who earn your superior disapproval is in reality a determination not to have this issue de-railed by the bigots who don’t like ‘the gays’, and are always willing to force their ‘civilization’ on everyone else.

    You are interpreting the behaviour through the lens of your resentment or re-sentiment – who knows which it is – not you.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      As with Paul Montgomery above, you have proved my point (the one you put in quotes). I am not against gay marriage, nothing in the post argues against gay marriage, but just pointing out weaknesses in the arguments some use is enough to make me a target for very unpleasant comments and insinuations.

      • Tripitaka says:

        If I proved your point then the point of your post was not to present an ‘alternative route’ to gay marriage, but a chance for you to complain about the ‘unpleasant’ to people who have been ‘aggressive’ in arguing for what they want.

        I am sure that it is very unpleasant to have un-gays argue for gay rights; how dare they! People should be only self-interested and those un-gays are only supporting gays because of some nefarious purpose. Perhaps just to annoy you?

        I have to admit that I would enjoy pushing your buttons if I was to argue with you.

        Of course your alternative route to ethical and moderate gay marriage is far superior :) so I hope those aggressive people who caused you such unpleasantness are reading. I am sure they will be convinced of your superior arguments and give you all the accolades you deserve for this post that is so balanced, nuanced and so totally across all the issues involved.

        And … hello! I get it that you are not against gay marriage. It clearly says in the first sentence that you’ think’ you are in favour and so why would I assume that you are against gay marriage? Duh

        I do hope you feel better now, it always helps to get these irrational irritable impulses off your chest.

  8. Hildy says:

    I think you are missing the point about marriage. It’s not really about sex, or children, or any of those things. It’s about family.

    There is no other simple way to declare before the law that someone is your next of kin. You can’t be a de facto and live in a different country, whereas you can be married and live in different countries. It’s not easy to prove being in a de facto relationship early on, whereas you can meet someone, be entranced, and be married 30 days later.

    Spousal privilege no longer exists in this country, but where it does exist, it is an important protection for couples.

    Given the commutative properties of marriage, polygamy is not compatible with this particular role. Incest is mostly not compatible because you already have a near next-of-kin relationship.

    • Sancho says:

      That’s a strong point.

      It’s also provides protection for couples in other jurisdictions. To my knowledge, some US states will still deny access to same-sex partners in medical emergencies, because the rules strictly require a marriage licence.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      My first point is that you are making a new argument for gay marriage that I have not heard before – unless you are saying that because the legal document is important in these special circumstances and so denial of the document causes harm, and that therefore marriage does become a right. Fair enough as a logical point.

      As to the situations you are describing, I am unclear what they are. Could you be more specific? How would gay marriage help people who moved overseas?

      Finally, I have never heard an argument based on commutativity and I cannot see why it is relevant.

      • conrad says:

        It’s not even just overseas. You cannot be defacto in Australia if you live in different states (at least Victoria and SA which I looked up, and enquired directly about to the relevant people), because defacto laws are state based. This means if you are a gay couple and you happen to live in different states, then as far as I am aware, you cannot be recognized as defacto, and since you cannot get married, it means all those legal things that come with being in a partnership cannot be applied. This could be very problematic if, for example, you had children, because you wouldn’t be the default carer if your partner died.

        • Chris Lloyd says:

          Well there is a new and interesting argument for gay marriage right there (though federal legislation on defacto relationship might be an alternative). But again, it seems to apply to polygamy as well. I did not really follow Hildy’s argument that it did not.

        • conrad says:

          It should apply to polygamy (perhaps the most common form of allowable marriage historically and still common worldwide). For example, if someone comes from Indonesia and has two wives then happens to die, should those wives have no rights because we don’t happen to think highly of polygamy? This is presumably relatively common and shows a why marriage is beneficial because it helps protect vulnerable parties. There are lots of other permutations of these situations it is possible to think of.

          As for incest, similar (although clearly very rare in the modern day) situations presumably exist.

        • Hildy says:

          It doesn’t apply to polygamy because if you are the most important person to me, then I am the most important person to you. In a polygamous marriage, who is the next of kin?

          I come from this from the point of view of legal guardianship and medical decisionmaking. There is a fixed hierarchy, and a spouse is second (after a properly appointed guardian). If, for example, I was in a de facto relationship with someone with children from a previous marriage, there could potentially be ugly disputes where proof of being in a relationship was necessary. Marriage short circuits all of that.

        • conrad says:

          Hildy — I’m not sure why that rules out polygamy given next of kin rules exist in any number of polygamous societies. It’s also not like people can’t already divide their assets to go to whoever they want, it’s just our marriage rules stipulate a default, so I don’t see why a default couldn’t be worked out for polygamy either, as clearly the wives of a husband that dies deserve some rights.

          This is obviously going to be more complicated that non-polygamous marriage, but certainly not impossible (e.g, how would assets get split on the death of the husband if one wife had one child and the other had two).

        • conrad says:

          FWIW, I should say that I’m under the belief that the Australian government recognizes some aspects of polygamous marriages entered into overseas, but not gay marriage. So at present, the Aus government clearly thinks more highly of polygamy than gay marriage. (that’s clearly not an argument — but I assume it is because of the types of problems and rights of the spouses I have noted).

        • john Walker says:

          Thank you, you have raised some really interesting points!
          The Malay village that my first wife grew up in (in the 50s) was matrilineal; when a man married he moved into the house of his wife’s family. Very few had two wives, the cost of running two households was too high for most .

      • Hildy says:

        conrad: not assets, decision making, which is not something that can easily be shared. in a polygamous marriage, who is entitled to make decisions on behalf of the other in case of incapacity?

        essentially, marriage says: you are my next of kin, and i am your next of kin. society recognises this particular relationship. how does this work in a polygamous marriage? similarly, there is a presumption of paternity/legitimacy in marriage. how does that work in polygamous relationships?

        to be recognised as a de facto spouse you have to live together, open bank accounts together, etc etc. if you are heterosexual, you can go and get married. this saves a massive heap of bother.

        • conrad says:

          I’m not really sure saving bother is an especially good reason for ignoring vulnerable groups (life would certainly become easier though for the government), and nor is people finding decisions hard to make on certain topics. Similarly just popular opinion doesn’t really tell me why you would or wouldn’t want something.

          For example, I think marriage should protect vulnerable groups and that it should be non-discriminatory. After that I’m happy for people to make of it what they will. This is why I think dealing with polygamy is important (some groups could especially badly off), and I don’t care about incestuous marriages (if we worried about genetic problems, we could exclude any number of people).

          In terms of working out what the government uses as defaults for marriage when things go wrong, this is just something that gets worked out (as it is now in many countries). I can’t find what the Aus government does easily (just that it does deal with this with people married overseas), but it would curious to know.

        • John Walker says:

          It might be different if polygamy was the marriage of 3 or more people ,rather than the marriage of one person , to two or more people ?

        • Hildy says:

          John Walker: that still doesn’t solve the issue of having an undivided next of kin. What if the two spouses disagree on the correct decision?

          conrad: I think you misunderstand me. People who are permitted to marry are saved the (considerable) hassle of proving that they are in a de facto relationship. Denying that to same-sex couples is frankly discriminatory.

          I don’t see how marriage protects vulnerable groups. Society should protect vulnerable groups.

          (As an aside, I think we should be allowed to adopt siblings)

        • john Walker says:

          My response and thanks is above, I put it into the wrong reply box by mistake.

        • Hildy says:

          John: you’re welcome. Ideas stolen from skepticlawyer at, tempered by my own experiences in applying the Guardianship Act in my workplace, together with imagining how my partner would be treated, potentially, by my colleagues if I were to become debilitatingly ill.

    • Hrgh says:

      “It’s about family.”

      Actually, nah. It’s about property.

      • Tripitaka says:

        Yes it is all about property and Friedrich Engels – I have only just discovered him – wrote a very good analysis of how marriage has developed in human societies throughout the ages. He also predicted that the process will end in freedom for all of us, especially women.

        Engels writes that “Monogamous marriage arose from the concentration of considerable wealth in the hands of a single individuals man-and from the need to bequeath this wealth to the children of that man and of no other.
        “For this purpose, the monogamy of the woman was required, not that of the man, so this monogamy of the woman did not in any way interfere with open or concealed polygamy on the part of the man.”

        And there is so much more.

        Engels predicted that “what will quite certainly disappear from monogamy are all the features stamped upon it through its origin in property relations; these are, in the first place, supremacy of the man, and, secondly, indissolubility.
        “The supremacy of the man in marriage is the simple consequence of his economic supremacy, and with the abolition of the latter will disappear of itself.
        “The indissolubility of marriage is partly a consequence of the economic situation in which monogamy arose, partly tradition from the period when the connection between this economic situation and monogamy was not yet fully understood and was carried to extremes under a religious form.
        “Today it is already broken through at a thousand points. If only the marriage based on love is moral, then also only the marriage in which love continues.”

        So he predicted no-fault divorce.

        The great white men who blog about the awful political correctness and who hanker for the old political correctness can’t see that today – more than a hundred years after Engels was writing – the social revolution or evolution that he foresaw is happening, although now it is happening via social media that he couldn’t have imagined and the power that homosexual men have to change society.

        I find that amusing.

  9. I think it’s good to finally see a bit of push back on the issue of this kind.

    I have argued for years that it seems most people simply do not recognize when they are in the midst of mere intellectual fashion when it comes to matters of sexuality, reproduction, and now marriage. A good example was the ABC doco a couple of nights ago, following those conceived by anonymous donor insemination who now sought to learn about their biological heritage. Bioethicists and lawmakers only 40 years ago thought that legislated anonymity was obviously the “right” way to set this up, presumably following the nuture over nature line popular with the Left for much of the 20th century; and I don’t recall any great public pushback either. (Giving a couple a baby they want trumps everything, it seems.) Now, we’ve swapped around and I suspect it is hard to find someone who thinks that the attempt at permanent anonymity was a good idea for a whole range of reasons, all of which were foreseeable 40 years ago.

    Mind you, we still have no great obvious public concern with surrogacy for gay male couples (or lesbians who seek a male friend’s sperm) despite these arrangements potentially having much the same issues for the conceived children in 30 years time. Again, it seems there is a large factor of “baby trumps everything” going on, and thinking about long term consequences is kicked down the road.

    Similarly, I think Chris is right on the “rights” argument, and it is annoying to see otherwise sensible people not acknowledging that casting it this way is such a recent invention (which doesn’t automatically mean it is wrong, but should give one pause to question whether it makes more than superficial sense), and does indeed open a can of worms for further redefinition of marriage about which many liberals are – with good reason – much cooler (polygamy, incest.)

    • conrad says:

      “and I suspect it is hard to find someone who thinks that the attempt at permanent anonymity was a good idea for a whole range of reasons, all of which were foreseeable 40 years ago.”

      Found. Non-anonymity basically now means it is very hard to get donors, so you are stopping people coming into existence, and you making an already expensive procedure even more expensive (e.g., you may have to go overseas to get a donor, who may also be anonymous).

      The basic problem is people see this as a comparative thing — you would be better off if you had this that and the next thing versus not having them rather than an absolute bar which you must get over to qualify (i.e., what is the minimum you wish to allow for people’s existence), which is basically used everywhere else. This is also a case of Parfit’s non-identity problem, where there is actually no comparison to be made.

      Similarly, there are lots of poor arguments in the gay-marriage debate based on comparative logic “you would be better off with a mother or father” which clearly sets the bar far higher than any other community standard (“single parents are fine”). It is also yet another case of the non-identity problem. If you have married gay parents, your are not the same person than if you don’t, so there is again no real comparison to be made.

      • John walker says:

        And the use of the terms rights and marriage ,equality have added fuel to the flames.

        Extending marriage to exclusive monogamous long term commitments , between any two consenting adults, is not saying that everything is ,equal. Nor is it saying that you have a right to marry your ,horse.

        • It’s not that easy to follow that summary of the non-identity problem, but as far as anonymous AID is concerned, perhaps you should be putting it to the adults who have had trouble identifying if their biological father had some genetic problem, or if they were dating their half sibling, all because the State (and perhaps the parents) thought 40 years ago that it shouldn’t matter to them.

  10. John walker says:

    II feel that you did not cover another objection to marraige equality. And It is one that is ,I gather , getting a fair bit of fear going.

    The fear is that marriage equality is a pretext for restricting religious freedom. Some examples of the fears I have heard are.
    a) that priests and imams could be forced to conduct gay marriages-or even be sued for refusing to marry gay couples. ( that’s really not true but that’s not the point).
    b) that the preaching of their traditional interpretation of the Word or the Koran could be subject to anti-discrimination and related laws. ( Pretty unlikely but I suppose , outside the sanctuary not impossible??
    c) that the advocates of gay marriage are also strongly and generally anti religious (not just indifferent),that they have a agenda that goes way beyond, gay marriage.
    ( which could be true for some on the fringe??)

  11. Chris Lloyd says:

    Hi John, I was not presenting any objections to gay marriage (which unfortunately you are still calling marriage equality!). Oh well. I guess that horse has bolted.

    As to religious freedom, at some point traditional religious teachings are going to have a head on collision with notions of rights and anti-discrimination. There have already been some small prangs. I have never been convinced that religious beliefs should be given special status. There is certainly no logical reason for doing so – (what is a religious belief anyway?) though there are practical reasons.

  12. John walker says:

    Chris , yes it has gotten away.
    I agree that equality and rights are not good grounds for supporting gay marriage . It’s not about rights ,powers and contracts.
    One of the church elders that I know has a gay son, he and his wife love that son :”we love him, and would love him to meet the right man,settle down, and be able to get married, just like we did”.

    Funny story about what’s a religion- Years ago Toots of Toots and the Maytels formed a church or a religion whose sacrament was ganja, so as to get protection under religious freedom, do not know how it went :-)
    Am speaking of well established ancient books, texts and teachings,that for many are part the ground of their being and their cultural identity.

  13. Tim Macknay says:

    I don’t really agree with your characterisation of what you call the “equal rights argument”.
    To my mind, the “equal rights argument” goes something like this:
    – Society has long recognised monogamous sexual relationships, and this recognition is institutionalised through marriage;
    – In the past generation or so, a major social change has occurred, in which monogamous non-heterosexual relationships have gone from be regarded as deviant and criminal, to be considered normal and acceptable;
    – as a result of this change, virtually all types of formal discrimination against monogamous non-heterosexual relationships have been removed from the statute books;
    – the restriction of marriage to heterosexual relationships is the last remaining form of institutional discrimination;
    – due to the aforementioned social change, society at large no longer recognises any real justification for unequal treatment of non-heterosexual relationships;
    – society also values a principle of equality which requires that people are treated equally where there is no justification for discriminating against them;
    – Therefore, the last remaining formal discrimination against non-heterosexual relationships (i.e. the ban on gay marriage) should be repealed.

    I don’t think the argument, when characterised this way (which is the way I generally understand it), suffers from the logical flaws you claim. While it does depend on a principle of equality, it does not rely so much on a highly abstract, universalising, principle of equality so much as on the social reality that gay relationships are now generally considered acceptable, so the historical basis for discriminating against them has disappeared. This is not the case with polygamy or incest (although as you point out, one can certainly make arguments that they should be legalised too, although I don’t really see why gay marriage advocates are obliged to do so).

    It’s certainly true that some advocates of gay marriage are strident, although that’s not unusual for passionate advocates of particular causes. Certainly both sides of this issue have their quotient of shrill voices.

    • Tim, your explanation would be better if you dropped the word “discrimination”. It rankles because it makes it sound as if marriage was always, by design, intended to keep homosexuals out of the club; whereas in fact it evolved without any idea that it could be thought something relevant to gay people (who, incidentally, might not have even have existed as a category in most societies!)

      As Julia Gillard and now T Abbott have both observed, it is also the case that when gay activism was getting its legs in the 70’s, the dominant view was that marriage was an outdated concept for anyone, let alone gays. It’s a bit rich that those who like marriage as it is lose whichever way the sexual political winds blow – either by being out of date for being part of a daggy redundant social institution, or now for not acknowledging that it’s an outrageous insult to gays that they can’t marry.

      • Tim Macknay says:

        Well Steve, it seems to me that discrimination is the correct word to use to describe the situation. The statutory definition of “marriage” that explicitly excludes non-heterosexual relationships was inserted very recently, to head off the possibility of the idea of marriage being broadened in the light of changing social attitudes. I don’t really see the historical views of marriage and homosexuality to be relevant to my construction of the argument, as it’s explicitly based on a recent, significant change in social attitudes. I don’t agree with your view that the change is mere fashion. I think it’s much more substantial than that.

      • Tim Macknay says:

        I’d also add that I don’t really believe that in the 1970’s the dominant view was that marriage was an outdated institution. That may have been the dominant view in the radical left at the time, but not in society at large. That attitude seems to me to have been pretty clearly an intellectual fashion, whereas the much broader change in the attitude to gay relationships is not.

        • You make a fair enough point re the Howard attempt to pre-empt the argument giving advocates “discrimination” ammunition. Has backfired a bit, in that way.

          And as for the 1970’s and marriage – my intention was to refer to gay rights and (many, but not all) feminist activists of the period, and was not saying that they succeeded in changing everyone’s view.

  14. Chris Lloyd says:

    Thanks for your comments Tim. You set your argument out very nicely and it is hard to see how anyone would disagree if it was presented this way (though of course we know some people would!) I think your argument is not so far away from what I said towards the end of my post:

    “(I) support gay marriage because it will make more people happy than unhappy – in short that (I) support it just to be nice…”

    This is not so different (at least in its tone) from saying “because there is no compelling reason anymore not to allow it” (though your argument is deeper) not that the point of my post was to present an argument in favour of gay marriage.

    However, I do disagree that this is how most people argue the case and I think I have fairly characterised how most argue for gay marriage. Clementine Ford would certainly not simply argue that “A major social change has occurred… the historical basis for discriminating against them has disappeared” It would be a little stronger than that! And could probably involve calling me a f..king c..t if I dared to disagree even with her punctuation.

    I think advocates are more strident than you admit. Look at some of the comments above. Critical examination of the argument for gay marriage is enough to be classified as a complete arsehole. There is sarcasm and questioning of motives, even if you are an academic who is interested in logic and consistency for its own sake, posting on a blog that is supposed to be a high brow.

    But sure, I expect to receive heat on a blog. I don’t mind. If I posted this on the Conversation (btw: they would never accept such a post – they rejected my post on domestic violence) the commenters would have a feeding frenzy. I would be subjected to complete ridicule and abuse and the moderator would sit back and smile.

    Blogs are one thing. If you don’t like them stay away. I ask you to imagine this discussion was happening at a University committee meeting – say regarding the wording of the equal opportunity policy as it applies to sexuality. Any critical examination would make you a target. The zealots (as above) would raise their voice and question motives and interject and drip sarcasm. Others around the table would privately agree but keep quiet to avoid becoming a target. The chair would shut discussion down in case the minutes were leaked and ended up in the Guardian and the Dean would have to deny that he employed homophobes. I have attended such meetings.

    • John walker says:

      Chris I completly agree.

    • GrueBleen says:

      Ah, now that is a really important learning experience.

      However, I rather suspect that you have summarised university (inter alia) meetings as they have occurred over the 927 or so years that we’ve had universities (since Bologna in 1088 anyway). The modus operandi stays the same, only the definition of ‘political correctness’ changes.

      So it goes.

      • Tripitaka says:

        I had to google Sisyphus and I found this “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

        What do you know about Tripitaka that you cannot fit my responses into that personality?

        “However, I rather suspect that you have summarised university (inter alia) meetings as they have occurred over the 927 or so years that we’ve had universities (since Bologna in 1088 anyway). The modus operandi stays the same, only the definition of ‘political correctness’ changes.”

        Very good. Perhaps my Tripitaka nom-de-plume refers to my belief that although the set of great white men here who are so annoyed by the uppity lesser people and their silly political correctness will never change – they can’t – no motivation – I do believe that these irritable urges that they like to pretend are rational argument, can be modified in some of them.

        There is therapy available for the old fashioned kind of political correct person who doesn’t like the new political correctness and refuses to fit themselves into the changing dynamics.

        Some of them are happy to mumble away – as Chris does – about how awful it all is though and that’s okay. Good luck to them if they are sufficiently ignorant and insular not to care about the growing condemnation of their tendency to disdain the lesser people.

        But Tripitaka knows that consciousness can be raised and fewer women will be raising their sons to be so dysfunctional and to believe that forcing themselves and their self-serving beliefs on to us all has or will, in the future make the world a better place..

    • Tim Macknay says:

      Chris, you’re probably right that much of the pro-gay marriage rhetoric goes beyond strident. I admit that I don’t bother to pore over too much of the discussion, since I have a pretty settled view on it and, although I support marriage equality, I admit that it’s not a top order issue for me politically.

      I certainly agree that there is a lamentable tendency in current political discourse, particularly on issues relating to gender and race, to use shaming techniques to enforce conformity and shut down critical analysis. I’m not sure if this is equally pronounced on the ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ sides of these issues, but it is certainly pronounced on the ‘progressive’ side. It closely resembles the campus ‘political correctness’ of a generation ago, and I thoroughly agree that it’s inimical to good faith intellectual discussion.

      • Tripitaka says:

        “I certainly agree that there is a lamentable tendency in current political discourse, particularly on issues relating to gender and race, to use shaming techniques to enforce conformity and shut down critical analysis. ”

        Was this current lamentable tendency less lamentable when Julia Gillard was PM? Not the same thing eh?

        • Tim Macknay says:

          I don’t think it makes a difference. The style of discourse I’m talking about occurs across the English-speaking world and I don’t think it’s related to the flavour of government in power.

    • Tyler says:

      A post decrying the strident, simplistic methods of a minority political group who have successfully convinced upwards of 70% of Australians to support their formal legal equality was met with some sarcasm and indignation.

      I’m sure this had nothing to do with its use of sweeping generalisations, the fact it ignored the fact that the achievement of most forms of legal equality wac accomplished less than a decade ago or it’s uncanny resemblance to conservative demands that their opponents argue in a way that doesn’t offend their fragile sensibilities.

    • I think gays and gay advocates are sick of “nice”. Two-thirds of the public agree with them, the arguments against them have been lost for decades by recalcitrants using fallacious arguments. And now the elites want a plebiscite, maybe, in the indeterminate future? No. NO. Enough hand-holding of those in power, enough respect for their consciences. Just get it done now, as a real democracy would.

  15. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    if people wish to view the fact check on the impressive Katy Faust and her rejoinder I have them both on my blog on my Around the Traps.

    Well worth reading

    • GrueBleen says:

      Ok, I’ll bite: what is your blog ?

      • GrueBleen says:

        Jolly good. I shall treasure your comments on O’Neill, Faust and di Natale.

      • GrueBleen says:

        Ok, so this and another of my little entries are “awaiting moderation” and a couple have disappeared, along with a couple of things from Not Trampis.

        Is there something about Not Trampis that I should know but obviously don’t, or is it just me ?

  16. Tripitaka says:

    Hi John Walker,

    I’m replying here because there is no reply button under your helpful comment to me about Sisyphus and going around in circles. The thing is that your? white man idea of progress being a straight line on ward and up ward toward perfection is probably what causes you to misunderstand the functionality of circles, spirals orbs spheres over that boring and inhuman straight line.

    Thank you so much for this information though, we ignorant people can always benefit from the charitable well educated who are willing to provide us the ‘usual’ meaning of things; the meanings that only white men know. But I, not being a white man with stuff to lose, – you know how freedom is just another word for nothin left to lose – have always thought, why would anyone want to take the ‘usual’ meaning of something as anything but a convention that is probably as boring as it is wrong.

    The quote I provided about Sisyphus appeals to me probably because I am not usual and nor would I want to be. But thanks anyway for your attempt to set me on the straight and narrow pathway.

    Feel free to interpret this as snark if that is your way of coping.

    • John walker says:

      Why are you so fearful ?
      In the light of your choice of ‘ name’ which, roughly ,means the bowl of wisdom courage and compassion , do you know the 4 great vows of Mahayana Buddhism? From memory they are:

      Though the many beings are numberless, I vow to save them all completely .
      Though fear greed and ignorance rise unceasingly within me, I vow to cut them off completely .
      Though the way is vast and fathomless,I vow to understand it completely .
      And thought the way of the Buddha is beyond all attainment, I vow to embody it completely .

      • Tripitaka says:

        Dear John,

        So you refused to see snark and went for fear instead.

        Mahayana? Yeah but it’s too ordered for me. There are more complex and interesting ways of walking the path.

        There was one great white man who was enlightened.

        Spinoza said according to the translation that I read,

        “I seek to try not to laugh at human actions, nor to mourn about them or to detest them, but to understand them. To break down the walls of glamour (fashion ideology whatever creed or belief you like) that cause us to see things that are not there and fail to see things that are there, to see the truth one needs to hold no opinions for or against anything.”

        I try to imagine possibilityies rather than form opinions but it does seem clear that there are things that do not work and seeking to put yourself above others is clearly the route to unhappiness.

        I was going to deny any fear, but while writing I realised that I do fear patriarchal men in person because they are so ugly and unable to cope when they are shown to be wrong.

        But the internet and this way of interacting has provided a way in which women like me can speak out or as the politically correct say – have a voice – and be safe from the threat of violence that wafts around patriarchal men.

        You do know that it is the right wing personality that has been found to be more fearful and less intelligent in some neuroscience and psychological research?

  17. Dave says:

    I think you’re missing something quite important in your analytical framework.

    Being homosexual is not a choice.

    Marriage is the institution that many people in long-term relationships use to codify commitment and confers certain rights to these couples, but currently these couples can only be man-woman combinations of adults with legal capacity.

    Were the law changed to include homosexual couples, how could this not be viewed as making the rights of homosexual couples equivalent to heterosexual couples? Consequently marriage equality is not a bad way to describe the campaign to stop excluding homosexual couples a particular right that only heterosexual couples have.

    Your arguments about incest, etc. are red herrings. Marriage is between consenting adults. This requires legal capacity. Animals or inanimate objects do not have legal capacity. And while I have a good imagination, I cannot envisage a scenario where a father, mother, daughter and or son would choose of their own free will to marry one or the other–ancient Egyptians being an exception.

    That said, this debate is chronically boring and I could never get worked up about your beliefs despite not agreeing with much of what you’ve written.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      “Animals or inanimate objects do not have legal capacity.” Quite. Apparently you did not read my post.

      • Dave says:

        And you cherry picked my reply?

        How about if your point of departure is that a subset of humans do not qualify for something that could legitimately apply to them, then all people aren’t being treated equally? Hence equality is a good term and equality is a cause to embrace.

        If your real concern is that some proponents of marriage equality made you feel all bad and stuff cos you know … stuff, well that’s unfortunate and ultimately self-defeating for their cause.

        An alternative is that your reasoning is flawed because you started from the wrong point of departure. Happens to all of us. No hard feelings.

  18. Chris Lloyd says:

    If you think that I am the only one that thinks advocates are aggressively one-sided and unwilling to countenance counter-argument, senior figures on the ABC agree with me.

    • john Walker says:

      i suppose that makes Media Watch a, bigot?

    • john Walker says:

      Hi Chris
      In truth the main reason I read your article is because the upcoming Canberra Goulburn Anglican Synod,and I am a delegate, is scheduled to discuss Gay Marriage . Many are a bit concerned that the discussion and divisions could get over heated.

      The other day we all received a Pastoral Letter from Bishop Stuart Robinson. (The letter is public domain.)
      This letter is not really about the rights and wrongs of Gay Marriage, rather it is about love and mutual respect:

      c. Without care, the tone and tenor of our discussion can wound and hurt people deeply and seriously dishonour the name of Jesus Christ. Anglicans with a deep and abiding faith hold a variety of positions concerning same-gender relationships and the adequacy of our existing theological understanding of marriage. Their faithfulness and right to be a member of our church should not be impugned or maligned, I would opine.

      d. Our Synod is unlikely and unable to resolve the matter simply,
      quickly or in a way that meets all expectations. The Anglican Communion has been discussing the issues associated with gender and sexuality for nearly two decades. In some parts of the Communion it is closer to five decades. Many feel tired of all this talk and want action now. Others see it as the route to compromise. It follows that my best hope for our Synod is that we discover new ways of handling this matter that pay due attention to the truths expressed on both sides of the argument; that is not over-ambitious or unrealistic about what might be achieved; that models what it is to accept others with whom we disagree; and which leaves every participant able to leave the Synod heartened and hopeful.

  19. Nicholas Gruen says:

    I’ll take the raffle tickets.

    • John walker says:

      Good ,take it you would be happy to win imaginary wood, you could store it next to the troppo limousine.

      • Nicholas Gruen says:

        Sorry, we don’t do pretend at Troppo. The Troppo cars are real. And we are soon to be taking possession of Bronnie the Troppo chopper.

        I don’t know what imaginary matter has to do with the time honoured relics from the Troppo garage. Indeed the Troppo Merc has been voted one of the 30 most influential non-imaginary objects of 2014 by the World Economic Forum. We hope to have Bronnie the Chopper ready for Davos in 2016, though there have apparently been a few hiccups recently as demand has fallen off.

  20. paul walter says:

    It’s grown whiskers as an issue, people have had enough time to grow used to the concept and time to clear the decks and focus on other issues that become neglected because a few folk can’t let go of the past.

  21. Nicholas Gruen says:


    If you’re getting updates on this thread, I wonder what you make of the ‘marriage equality’ arguments dramatised in the feature film just released – “Loving”. They’re obviously very different, but still refract the issues in interesting ways.

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