Jan 21: Dogs In The Manger
Human civilisation has lasted perhaps 10,000 years but it took a long time for human rights to be properly addressed. Slavery was largely abolished in the Nineteenth Century, women were granted the right to vote in elections early in the Twentieth Century and (apart from religious organisations and other unscrupulous employers) women are now treated equally.
Inter-racial marriage was illegal in the US until as recently as 1967. The same year, Australia, finally allowed aborigines to vote. Then homosexuality was decriminalised and divorce made easier. Apartheid was finally abolished in South Africa in 1994. All of these basic human rights reforms were fought tooth and nail by the Establishment - despite popular support.
Coming up soon in the NSW State Parliament, our state politicians will have an opportunity to redress another in a long line of discriminatory human rights denials - a Bill to permit same-sex couples to marry. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority of the Australian population support same-sex marriage, yet sadly it seems the Establishment will fight to ensure its rejection.
Nothing really changes, does it?
One of the slogans used by the anti-reformists is: "Marriage - One Man, One Woman, For Life." They give no reasons why it must be so and (inconsistently), they are not campaigning loudly for the abolition of divorce. Opponents say: "gay marriage means the end of morality." No it doesn't. When same-sex marriage becomes legal, none of us "straights" will notice anything different.
"Protecting the sanctity of marriage" is another favourite reactionary argument, along with the "defence of traditonal marriage." Well, church weddings might possibly be "holy" to some but the Bill will not force same-sex marriages on churches! As for traditional marriage, they leave much to be improved on:
Then, of course, there are those who like whacking others over the head with their bibles. "Marriage is god's order;" they cry; and "the bible says clearly homosexuality is wrong," etc. Well, Christians do not own marriage - it was around before recorded history and before christianity turned it into a biblical 'invention'. I don't care if the bible implies that homosexuality is wrong - that just means that the men who wrote it were as bigoted and intolerant as some of today's christians and others.
Homosexuality is not outlawed by the ten commandments - although working on Sunday definitely is (and no-one worries about that any more).
What does the bible really say about marriage?
- Fathers can arrange marriages for their daughters, to suit their own purposes;
- Marriage is not for two partners who fall in love;
- A father may sell his daughters to a prospective husband, in exchange for livestock;
- Men can have more than one wife - but women cannot have more than one husband;
- Men can also have a stash of concubines;
- A new bride shall be stoned to death if (in the opinion of the husband) she was not a virgin;
- A widow can be forced to marry her brother-in-law;
- A raped virgin must marry her rapist if the rapist reimburses the father for his loss of "property;"
- If a wife is barren, she can send her slave to her husband to conceive for her;
- Female prisoners of war who are virgins must marry their captors;
- Female slaves can be directed to marry male slaves;
So, to those who say we must retain a "biblical" marriage, is that what you mean? Marriage is not an equal partnership - the male is dominant, the women are his property? Men can be promiscuous bigamists but women must be virgins? Marriage and sex is for profit or the spoils of war? Love between a man and a woman has no bearing on marriage? Slavery and rape are both ok?
We rejected this nonsense centuries ago -even though it is a biblical definition of marriage.
You want a biblical marriage? Go rape that attractive blonde you see on the train - and she's yours for life.
Biblical marriage is primitive and in need of an update. To follow the rules of a book that was written in a different era - under a different civilisation, in a different part of the world, with different circumstances - is like using the instruction book from a seventeenth century horse and carriage to carry out maintenance on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
In the bible, women are just "property."
Finally, there are the folks who say: "You simply cannot redefine marriage." As one wag once put it, the fact that you can't sell your daughter "for three goats and a cow," means that we have already redefined marriage.
The divorce laws have already redefined marriage. The introduction of marriage registry offices and marriage celebrants has already redefined marriage. The laws of each country have already redefined marriage. It is defined differently by Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Quakers or Hindus; and it is defined differently in the USA, Australia, Uganda, China, The Maldives and the Amazon Jungle. Marriage belongs to the culture and laws of the country. There is no reason why the archaic laws of ancient Palestine should apply here and now.
Marriage is defined by the people, as represented by the Parliament. It is always being redefined - even by the church. For example, social pressures in the mid-twentieth century forced the Anglican Church to redefine marriage by allowing the word "obey" to be stripped from a bride's pledge to her husband. Another blow for equality.
Biblical marriage laws? No thanks.
A marriage is a voluntary social union or legal contract between two spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between the spouses, regulated by the law of the land. That is all - and if they happen to be of the same sex, then why should it bother you or I? It is none of my business, so why should it be any of yours?
When the Parliament deliberates on this, the MPs will be split - but not on party lines. They will get a free vote.
On the supporting side will be the statesmen and free-thinkers, those who actually follow the values espoused by the party they represent; those who wish to make their mark and be remembered as true reformers for a fairer society; those who realise the time has come to make reparations for past wrongs; those who understand that if this necessary landmark reformist legislation is defeated, it will just keep returning until a more visionary future Parliament finally comes down on the side of justice and freedom, as is occuring elsewhere around the world.
The meek-minded negatives, marshalled by the Establishment, will be those who reject their own party values. The myopic, the heartless, the ignorant, the bigots, the uncaring, the intolerant, the indoctrinated, the Pellites and the reactionaries; all of whom will shamefully align themselves with their short-sighted predecessors who - over the previous two hundred years - fought to prevent previous benchmark human rights reforms passing into the law - legislation which is now accepted as essential by all. None of them has an argument with any substance.
As a Liberal Party supporter, I support the Party's fundamental beliefs:
- In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples;
- In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens;
- In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy - the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.
- In a just and humane society; and
- In equal opportunity for all Australians;
What about Labor? They believe:
- That all people are created equal in their entitlement to dignity and respect.
- In equal opportunity and protection from unfair discrimination.
- In universal social rights.
Are these just mere words on a website that can be tossed aside by MPs when it conflicts with their predjudice? When their reasons for voting in the negative boil down only to tradition, spite, slogans and religious directives; then it's time to have a good look at themselves and ask what their real motives are.
When MPs of either major Party vote to deny marriage for gays, they will be denying the fundamental right of equality to a minority group. They will be preserving marriage for the bullying majority; and they will be doing so in direct denial of the highest principles of their own Parties.
In the end it just comes down to hypocrisy. Marriage is "ours" and we won't let them be equal to "us."
700 wives? I'm very happy with one wife thank you. I reject biblical marriage.
Grasping the concept of equality. Following last week's four letters published in the Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, two of us sent follow up letters: Mr. Wyer said last week that Gays have no right to bring up children and those wan
Tracked: May 09, 17:05