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DISPOSE OF MARRIAGE ALTOGETHER?

I have been following the debate about the upcoming survey to change the definition of marriage, so that same-sex couples can marry. I have quite strong views about this subject. But these are just observations around the issue, given the debate it’s causing. 

Last week, my brother-in-law posted, on his Facebook page, his opinions about same-sex marriage. He is a minister of religion. The comments resulting from his post were in the thousands, and most of them so offensive, abusive, and downright threatening, that Facebook deleted his page.

So, it seems that there is an issue here of freedom of speech, and also freedom of religion. There have been many discussions on TV about this upcoming survey, and how there should also be a change of law, so that open and honest discussion is not stifled in any way.

Tom Switzer, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, and a former ABC radio presenter, wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper about this issue. His opening paragraph says ‘Many important issues now can’t be debated openly without inspiring immediate hysteria. Same-sex marriage is one of them. Anyone who tries to defend traditional marriage  – or even high-lights the risks that the campaign poses to religious freedom – is instantly treated with shock and distaste. Note the paradox. The marriage-equality movement has succeeded in changing public opinion across the Western world by championing love and acceptance…. support for same sex marriage is now a majority view. And yet many activists have become intolerant of people who might subscribe to religious, or more traditional, positions. 

He goes on to say that, although he has thoughtfully considered that he will be on the Yes side, he is reconsidering his position because of this rampant vilification of the opponents of the proposition.

There are probably LGBTIQ people who are also being vilified, but the overwhelming evidence, from what has so far been reported, does not support this assertion.

It has been noted that help lines have been busier lately with troubled Yes voters being upset about comments made to them. A friend of mine, a wonderful gay man, said that now he knows what Indigenous people feel, having their way of life probed and decided by such a process that objectifies him and his lifestyle choices.

On ABC TV QandA this week, a politician from Israel proposed that marriage be abolished altogether. A very radical position, but not so bizarre when it is considered that most marriages in the world are forced, and can be described as a form of slavery, which fosters feelings of ownership over wives and children.

Domestic violence has, at its core, the presumption that a man has rights over his wife, and that violence is one acceptable way of controlling his family.

Both sides of this debate are arguing about whether the law should be changed. When the Federal Government introduced  the Marriage Act, in 1961 , they co-opted a religious word, a religious rite and a religious sacrament, and put this into a legal framework.

Perhaps the State should change the legislation so that the word marriage is not in the legislation. They could call it a loving union; a contract of family solidarity; safe relationship contract.

It is the word ‘marriage’ that is the problem, not discrimination.

C.Gibbons

Tinonee

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