There has been a lot of talk about the potential economic benefits that would flow to Australia from marriage equality. And no doubt there will be a significant contribution to the economy by same-sex weddings, pending the outcome of the promised plebiscite currently scheduled for … 2017? Yes, seriously … 2017!
And make no mistake, the plebiscite will be no walk in the park towards marriage equality. Insidious forces that despise LGBTI people are already mobilising, and will use the public vote as an opportunity to demonise LGBTI people with vile lies, misinformation and any other method they can think of, in an attempt to turn public opinion around on the issue. It will be nasty, mean-spirited and damaging.
Sadly, both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull think this is a great idea.
What are these insidious forces?
The usual suspects: from the perhaps well-meaning but nevertheless ignorant Catholic and Anglican Churches, to the malicious anti-gay groups such as Marriage Alliance, the Australian Christian Lobby and its Australian Marriage Forum – all modelled on American anti-gay hate groups.
The year is 2025 – nine years after a plebiscite narrowly approved same-sex ‘marriage’ and Parliament amended the Marriage Act and many other laws to remove all references to ‘a man and a woman’, ‘husband and wife’ and ‘mother and father’. After an initial flurry of rather colourful same-sex ‘weddings’, numbers have now plateaued to only a few hundred each year. Sociologists debate the long-term effects on public understandings of marriage and family.
While provisions in the Marriage (Marriage Equality Amendment) Act exempting Registered Ministers of Religion and Registered Places of Worship from taking part in ‘gay weddings’ have continued to stand in law, the High Court has ruled that section 116 of the Constitution does not protect faith-based schools from having to teach a ‘gay friendly’ state-imposed curriculum; continuing to teach that marriage is an opposite-sex union was held by a majority of the Justices to be motivated by outmoded and bigoted attitudes and to be harmful to children. Already one Catholic bishop has been briefly gaoled for refusing to apply the state-approved ‘LGBTIQQ Safety Protocols and Awareness Program’ to the schools in his diocese; and parents at Jewish and Muslim schools have been advised that they may not withdraw their children from such programs.
Anthony Fisher OP, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney – Should Bakers be Required to Bake Gay Wedding Cakes? The State of Our Democracy and of Religious Liberty in Contemporary Australia, Acton Lecture on Religion and Freedom, Centre for Independent Studies, St Leonards (14 October 2015)
The antagonism of the world to the Word of God is perhaps seen nowhere more acutely than in the virulent challenge to the definition of marriage which pervades conversations in the media, the workplace and even in our places of leisure. The bombardment, both subtle and not so subtle, is relentless.
Marriage is fundamentally not a social construct of human invention, but is a divinely ordained institution for the good of humanity and the well being of society.
There simply is no ‘marriage equality’ for everyone. Marriage necessarily has boundaries that even the adherents of the facile rhetoric of ‘marriage equality’ cannot deny: children, for example, are excluded; couples within prohibited relationships, such as siblings, are excluded; those who are already married and wish to marry another spouse are also excluded. Yet we are the ones portrayed as being discriminatory in our defence of marriage, when in fact we are not alone, for everyone needs to discern the purpose of marriage if one is to understand, and so rightly ‘discriminate’, regarding the eligibility of proper candidates for marriage.
Dr Glenn Davies, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney – Presidential Address to the Sydney Synod (12 October 2015)
Between the ridiculous apocalyptic nightmare of the Catholic Archbishop, and the intellectually coma-inducing arguments of the Anglican Archbishop, we are in for an interesting ride as the hypocrisy of ‘religious freedom’ arguments made by the faux-intellectuals of our leading religious denominations will be laid bare.
Imagine two more years of this.
The Netherlands, a leader in marriage equality, having legalised it on 1 April 2001, over fifteen years ago, provides the best insight into the cultural and social consequences: there is nothing to indicate they suffered any negative consequences, let alone the apocalyptic nightmare predicted by the Catholic Archbishop for Australia.
I also reject the relevance of the case of Oregon’s homophobic bakery owners in the Australian context. Due to its significantly different constitutional and legal framework, and unique cultural and religious attitudes, legal events that occur in the United States often have little bearing on Australia, especially in the area of discrimination.
On the other hand, the Catholic Archbishop should take it on notice that the people of Ireland, one of the most staunchly Catholic nations in the world, managed to reconcile their Catholic faith with marriage equality. Of course, while the Irish had to hold a referendum to legalise marriage equality due to the wording of their Constitution, the Australian plebiscite is entirely unnecessary and superfluous, as confirmed by a Senate inquiry.
Many same-sex couples can’t wait to get married, while others can barely wait to cash in on them and are already counting the ‘pink dollars’.
But some members of the LGBTI community are now of the view Australia does not deserve to financially benefit from their joy, given the delays, the obfuscation, the hateful anti-marriage equality campaigns, much more of which is yet to come as the convoluted, and utterly unnecessary, plebiscite will unfold.
When the time comes, some plan to have only the simplest of weddings at home and save the money for fabulous honeymoons in gay-friendly overseas locations. Others will have their celebrations overseas, in the countless nations where marriage equality has been legal for years now, and simply do the necessary paperwork upon returning to have their marriage recognised at home.
• The Senate to Parliament: Do your job!
• An unhinged Marriage Alliance loses it again
• Wear it Purple, wear it proud!
• Ashley Madison and marriage equality in Australia
• The great gay plebiscite and referendum confusion of 2015
• The growing fire inside me
• An unholy ‘alliance’ and Foxtel
• ‘Welcome’ Marriage Alliance
• Senators Wong and Bernardi in marriage equality showdown
• The hypocrisy of ‘religious freedom’
• Gays cause [insert natural disaster of your choice] …
• Catholic Church ‘warns’ businesses over public support for marriage equality
• The Coalition’s marriage equality fiasco
• IDAHOT reflections
• Will Australia soon become the only English-speaking country in the world without marriage equality?
• Is this why the Liberal Party’s running scared from a conscience vote on marriage equality?
• LGBTI human rights and marriage equality
Have no illusions, many in the LGBTI community feel beyond disappointed over the abuse and lies they have been subjected to for over a decade now on the subject of marriage equality, which compounded the many injustices they had already suffered in the past. They are hurting and angry, after the nation had put them through the wringer, and made them fight every tiny inch of the way for their dignity, humanity and equality.
While the LGBTI community appreciates there is strong ‘community support’ for marriage equality, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in the carrying on about the inevitability of pudding …