Marriage equality now?

Aractus 30, March, 2017

No, I don’t think so. And to be honest, I don’t at all feel bad for gays and lesbians who are demanding we enact it through this term of Parliament. But before you leave in disgust and label me a bigot let me explain: I do agree we should work towards legislating same-sex marriage, but I do not agree with doing it the way that activists are demanding.

Sky News began advertising Equality Campaign in the news feed a few weeks ago. I have an ethical issue with what that – I believe they were being paid to advertise in the feed (they also show TV ads for the campaign), yet it is not clearly marked as advertising and appears to be a part of the news feed. So I think that’s very misleading.

What we have at the moment is a situation in Australia where the incumbent government took a policy of a national plebiscite to the election, however the plebiscite legislation was blocked in the Senate by the opposition and the minor parties. The government has stuck by their election promise. But it doesn’t change activists demanding they push through changes anyway – which I think is wholly unfair to Australians who want to have their say in this matter.

Labor and Greens claim that a plebiscite is “just a national poll”. That is not true – with compulsory voting in Australia you will get a solid mandate, just like the republic referendum in 1999. That’s not an opinion poll, that’s participatory democracy. Brexit in Britain was done by plebiscite too, and for an important social change like this it is important to get the public behind it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no greater affront to democracy than the impact of interest/lobby groups.

To their arguments that this is not the best way to go about it: Who cares? We have a democracy. Democratic decision is imperfect by design. If it was perfect it wouldn’t be a democracy. We sacrifice perfection for the ability of all to have an equal say.

And finally, to their argument that this should be done by an act of Parliament not through a public vote: The Australian Parliament is a little over 100 years old. It’s a pretty recent institution. The institution of Marriage pre-dates the institution of Parliament, it pre-dates democracy, and it pre-dates almost every religion on Earth too. Further to that is the fact that the institution was created in parallel across a multitude of different ancient societies: it did not come from one place at one time, and it has had vastly varying rules throughout the ages. Prior to the modern British era it was overseen by the Christian Church in areas where it had influence – governments of the time did not have jurisdiction over it. In modern societies today, here in Australia, in Europe, and North America it is overseen by the governments of sovereign States. In other places though like Saudi Arabia, it is still controlled by religious organisations.

So the government should not claim to have authority over the institution of marriage. Rather, they are the rightful custodians of an ancient institution that still holds much value today. And that’s why the people, not the government, should be the ones to make decisions that involve changing its meaning. I believe if it was put to a plebiscite it would get at least 70% support of the public. So to all the activists out there – stop playing fucking games, let people have their say, and move on. You will get exactly what you want if you put it to a public vote, and you’ll be reforming marriage the right way.

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