Why Australia Should Allow Gay Marriage
*In the following, I use “gay” to include all homosexual relationships.
It is saddening that the Australian parliament has yet to legalise gay marriage for the simple reason that there is no legitimate reason to not allow it other than pure discrimination. I used to be one of those people that thought the existence of Civil Unions was enough for the gay community, but I was blind. The mere fact that it would be called something different inherently implies discrimination. The fact that Civil Unions include the legal benefits of marriage does not outweigh the fact that Civil Unions are still not marriage. I will attempt to go through the objections to gay marriage and show why they should not stand.
The first objection comes from the religious perspective. A lot of religious people quote sacred texts that say marriage is strictly for a man and a woman and that homosexuality is unacceptable. I find it contradictory that this same sacred text goes on to say be good to fellow man and is anti-discriminatory. Can these people pick and choose what to use and believe in? Are they forced to lead contradictory lives or do they simply repeat what they read and have little thought about what they say? I feel the over-riding passages would be the ones about love and acceptance. I call myself a Catholic so I will use a Catholic analogy. Jesus Christ is the model of behaviour for Catholics. This is a man who helped the prostitutes, touched the lepers and forgave the tax collectors. I find it very hard that this same man would shun someone for being homosexual. I feel he would invite them in and accept them in regards to all aspects of life including marriage. I feel so strongly about this that he would even perform the ceremony for them. If this man is the model of behaviour, why than do so many “Catholics” shun gay marriage?
The next objection is to say that it is unnatural. I find this hard to accept on the simple basis that nature is still so mysterious that we can not claim to know what natural is. It has been accepted by society that a man and a woman marrying is “natural”. Has everything society accepted been right before? We need look no further than the institution of slavery and, more recently, at Nazi Germany. A majority of a country accepted a man that is today condemned the world over. Are societies opinions infallible? Absolutely not. My other argument is to say the fact that homosexuality exists in this world is enough to call it “natural”. Nature, or God or whatever one believes in, has provided the right situation, chemicals, mix etc. to allow for homosexuality to exist. This very existence is enough to call something “natural”. A religious person could argue that it is sinful and the work of the devil but I’m still awaiting for all mass murderers to proven to be gay and I’m still waiting for Hitler, Stalin and the like to be shown as closet homosexuals. This is just another uneducated attempt at discriminating against something someone is not comfortable with.
There is a belief that allowing gay marriage would lead to the degradation of “traditional” marriage. Not only is this completely unfounded, it is also completely illogical. The “traditional” marriage is founded on the principles of love. Gay people can love just as easy as straight people. The one thing that undermines marriage is divorce and there is plenty of that around as it is. Allowing gay marriages will not increase the rate of divorce as the chances of straight and gay relationships working in an equal environment would be the same. Even if the divorce rate went up, it is a free country and divorces are allowed (even for Catholics who can attain annulments). There is no argument in existence that substantially lends weight to the thought that gay marriage would degrade straight marriage or that it would result in higher rates of marriages ending.
Another objection suggests that allowing gay marriage would create unstable families. I feel this is completely misguided. The arguments supporting this belief range from the inability of gay parents to adequately raise children, the unnatural (there is that word again) methods gay parents would use to raise children and that the situation the children are in would create a greater chance of the children being gay. None of these reasons can be logically supported. To begin with, what is the basis of a working family? I would suggest love and care. As I mentioned earlier, gay people have the same ability to love and care as straight people. There is no difference here and thus the foundation of a family would remain intact irrespective of the gender of the parents. One might argue that the environment is inherently different and that the social pressures would also be different. Well, I say to these types that every family has a different environment and that it is this very difference that creates diversity in the world. I imagine different cultures would raise children in different ways. Should we therefore ban those races that are deemed less adequate at raising children? And if so, how could we possibly measure this inadequacy? As for the social pressures, who is creating them? It is not the gay couple. It is the society that discriminates that creates these different social pressures. Who is in the wrong then? The family that is ostracised or those that ostracise? The claim that these children could turn out gay is complete speculation. Equally, they could turn out straight. Where is the proof of either one? There isn’t any. Therefore, it can not be used other than as a misguided and ill informed opinion.
I will revisit the religious perspective for this next objection. There are some who see marriage as a religious institution. This is bogus information. Marriage may be mentioned in sacred texts and performed by practitioners but it is also performed secularly and there is no requirement to be religious to get married (not that all gays are non-religious anyway). Marriage is a civil right and that means it is open to all humans. You can not stipulate civil rights based on gender. It is immoral and unethical. However, a large part of the religious fraternity wishes to do this which is astounding. The purveyors of good will and equality want to redefine human rights to suit their beliefs. To me, not only is that deplorable, it is a total contradiction for what they stand for.
I often see people claim that marriage is for procreation and thus gay marriage should not be allowed. This view is a misappropriation. Sex is for procreation but sex is also for enjoyment. Marriage is for the affirmation of love. If we do accept the above view, than by extension, anyone who is sterile or is too old to have children should not be allowed to marry. Also, those who choose to not have children should not be allowed to marry either. Are we going to go down the path where we selectively choose only those who want children to marry? Also, since when did it require marriage to have children? There is an increasing number of single parent families in Australia, often, as a result of out of wedlock conception. Should these people be forced to marry or would we use stricter methods for them? Marriage is not for procreation.
I would like to finish with a point in favour of gay marriage that is not the response to an objection. As I expressed at the beginning, not allowing gay marriage is formed on discriminatory terms. I feel that allowing for this type of discrimination could lead to further and more drastic forms of homosexual discrimination. Is that a society we want to live in? Do we want to take a giant leap back to the dark past where it was a crime to be gay? Or are we willing to venture into the future as liberated minds? Minds that allow for the survival and safety of our fellow human beings without the shadow of hate residing over them.
It is upsetting that we still live in a society that can not accept differences. However, I do hold hope for my generation as I truly believe we are growing up more tolerant than those before us. I do not feel we will ever eradicate the simple minded or misled, but in a democracy, we only need a majority. I sense this majority is not far away. I have hope.