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March 16th 2016 print

John Muscat

Shotgun Marriage

The MPs who conceived the same-sex plebiscite were well-intentioned and their opposition sound. If it fails, well and good. But if it carries, the Left will have acquired a big new club to bash the defenders of religious liberty, freedom of speech and parental authority

gay marriagePicture yourself at home and watching television in late 2016. Your favourite program is interrupted by a news bulletin. A breathless reporter announces: “We can now call the final tally in the plebiscite to change the Marriage Act – Australians have voted by a clear majority to allow people of the same sex to marry”. The camera scans across a multitude of jubilant people, hugging, kissing, screaming, dancing, amidst a sea of rainbow flags and banners declaring “All You Need Is Love”, “All Love Is Equal”, “It’s time for Marriage Equality”. A microphone is pointed at an excited reveler who says “this changes everything, Australia will never be the same again”.

How would you feel? If this scene makes you uneasy, brace yourself. It may be drawing closer. In a recent interview, Attorney-General George Brandis said the same-sex marriage (SSM) plebiscite will come hard on the heels of the next election, and that could mean this year.

Brandis told reporters he has rethought the subject and, “after reflection”, no longer opposes the change. Perhaps this vindicates the tactics of those traditionalist MPs who engineered the flick to a plebiscite. On questions surrounding sexual identity, our politicians are starting to look like a herd of spooked cattle.

On the other hand, Brandis also said he believes the plebiscite will be carried, which no doubt figured in his “reflection”. In this he is expressing the conventional wisdom around media and political circles. What if Brandis and the conventional wisdom are right? Many SSM opponents would argue there is nothing to lose in forcing a plebiscite. Since more MPs are drifting over to the other side, marriage reform appears inevitable if left to a parliamentary vote. A plebiscite offers at least some hope of keeping the status quo, in that a vigorous “no” campaign will expose the public to a range of arguments they haven’t considered.

What has passed for debate so far is a sham. Using their preponderant media power, the SSM lobby and broader Left have suppressed the contra case with jackboot tactics. They have shrunk, trivialised and obscured the issues at stake. A contrasting approach came, ironically, from Labor’s Joe Bullock, who recently resigned his Senate seat in protest at the ALP’s pro-SSM position. Bullock told senators,“homosexual marriage [is] a question which I regard as having fundamental significance to the future shape of our society”. He is right, even if a number of writers have received less attention for saying the same thing.

It’s often said that the impacts of SSM are largely confined to the gay community (and other groups represented by the weird acronym LGBTQI). But amending the definition of marriage will send cultural messages reverberating across society. One message is that it makes no difference if children are raised by their two progenitors (allowing for the fact that it isn’t possible in every case). This weakens the once valued link between procreation and parenthood, taking it to breaking point. Another message is that fatherhood and motherhood have no distinctive characteristics, and can be replaced by some generic concept of co-parenthood. That such values are damaging to children is consistent with a body of research, particularly children born into less affluent conditions.

These messages hasten our transition from a parent-society to a nanny-state, since failures in family formation attract rising levels of bureaucratic intervention. Forced to abandon their old dream of nationalising the instruments of economic life, the Left have turned their sights on nationalising aspects of domestic life. As Bullock and others suggest, the consequences for the economic and cultural shape of our society are far-reaching. And it’s being done to meet the demands of a group who make up one percent or less of all Australian couples. Judged purely as social policy, it’s irrational and reckless.

Whether this can be impressed on enough of the public by plebiscite day, however, is uncertain at best. After decades of media conditioning backed up by the omnipresence of gay themes in popular culture – just check the latest crop of movies and television shows – many Australians see SSM in terms of a fair go. Unlike a referendum under section 128 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which stipulates a majority of voters in a majority of states, the outcome will be decided by a bare national majority. To a large extent, in other words, it will be decided in metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne.

For traditionalists, the plebiscite is a high stakes gamble. Any calculation on the part of those who engineered it that there is nothing to lose, or it doesn’t matter, if SSM comes via a parliamentary vote or via a popular vote (followed by a parliamentary vote) may be wrong.

A people’s vote in favour of SSM will be an immense propaganda coup for the Left. They will call it a watershed in Australian social history. They will claim a popular mandate, a green-light, for the whole sexual diversity agenda, including the next phase of activism bearing on school curricula and anti-discrimination law. They will say the country consigned its Judeo-Christian heritage to history and marched into a bright progressive future. Expect to hear such claims at high rotation in the wake of a yes vote. It won’t matter much that the assertions are false. Most of the people voting for SSM will have done so for no larger social or cultural reason. It’s just that, as things now stand, the Left have enough media reach to engrave their spin on the public consciousness.

The propaganda dividends from a simple parliamentary vote would be substantial, but far more restricted in scope. After all it would be the work of politicians, more easily limited to its own terms as a legislative amendment for a specific purpose.

The MPs who conceived the plebiscite were well-intentioned and their opposition to SSM is sound. If the plebiscite fails, well and good. But if it carries, the Left will have acquired a big new club with which to bash the defenders of religious liberty, freedom of speech and parental authority. This could be the worst defeat for a conservative vision of Australia since Whitlam entered The Lodge.

Comments [15]

  1. Mr Johnson says:

    We better get used to baking Gay wedding cakes – or else.

  2. Davidovich says:

    If Brandis is correct in saying there will be a plebisicite before the end of 2016 then we can be absolutely sure there will be scant time or resources given to mount a NO case. Further, the wording of the plebiscite question or questions will be critical and, since they will be drawn up by proponents of SSM, there is every likelihood that they will be designed to aid a YES vote.

  3. pgang says:

    It will happen, there is nothing to oppose to these forces anymore. The only thing in history that has ever successfully stood in the way of totalitarianism (for that’s what this is), is Christianity. But we don’t have that bulwark any more. Indeed many of our churches are no longer Christian. How many Quadrant readers are Christians? How many attend church regularly to support organised Christianity? The progressives know that there is nothing to stop them, apart from an appeal to tradition, which they are very good at attacking. They will happily lie about studies and statistics. We can all thank Enlightenment reductionism for this predicament.

    • MattP says:

      The problem with the churches, and subsequently Christians (I am a God-fearing one who leans heavily toward Puritan teachings) is that much of the Gospel that is proclaimed from the pulpit is Cheap Grace. It demands little and expects little of the believer. Even in the more conservative churches a more pervasive worldliness can be found.

      I attended one pro-family rally, but sadly it spoke to the converted. If this is indicative of the broader church, the problem is that it doesn’t really know how to engage with the unbeliever in this highly secularised state. Couple that with the inwardly focused church, you have a church which is disengaged from the broader community. The church has been more concerned with hiding than defending itself

      The Catholics has their caritas, but too often it leaves the Gospel behind.

      Christianity seems to thrive best when she is persecuted. My hope is that in a generation or two there will be a revival and that the West will be restored and be proud of its heritage. Having said that, the real hope is in the world to come, but we are not supposed to abandon this one in anticipation of the next.

      The best I can do is build robust, Godly character is my children that they won’t blow in the wind of secularism.

      Certainly the church has its issues: paedophile clergy, for example. But it at least had a moral heart. To give this country over to amoral Marxists is madness. What hope is there in that? None, I’m afraid.

    • [email protected] says:

      I am an atheist and my opinion this whole episode has little to do with religion, it is merely part of the ‘culture wars’. The left aim to weaken or destroy the concept of the nuclear family. They are using diversions which sound good but are meaningless.
      The ‘safe schools’ project has very little to do with bullying’ and has much more to do with promoting certain ‘life styles’. In a similar vein the SSM/’marriage equality’ program has little to do with respecting the legal rights of the LGBTI brigade. If it was there would be no need to change the language in true Orwellian fashion so that the definition of the word ‘marriage’ needs to be altered to mean something other than what it was originally meant to be.
      The ‘nuclear’ family is regarded by leftists to be the foundation stone of capitalist/western philosophy and hence has to be destroyed.
      In most public discussions/debates the mostly likely winner will be he/she who has the loudest voice or the biggest megaphone. With the taxpayer funded ABC being by far the biggest media organisation [loudest megaphone] in Australia the ‘marriage equality’ advocates [LGBTI brigades] have an obvious advantage in that they can shout down any opponents with their inane insults of ‘homophobe’/right wing extremist etc.

    • Max Rawnsley says:

      Christianity has not always stood up for its principles.

  4. Bill Martin says:

    It is extremely surprising that no one seems to ask the question: Given that opinion polls and pundits’ predictions uniformly indicate that the result of the plebiscite will be the approval of same-sex marriage, why is the very notion of the plebiscite so vehemently opposed by the advocates of the proposed change? If they are so very certain of an outcome favourable to their cause, why don’t they welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the overwhelming popularity of their cause célèbre? Is it, perhaps, that they are scared that the silent majority, who are reticent to publicly declare their hand – lest they be attacked as homophobes – are reserving their condemnatory judgement to the ballot box? What other rational explanation is there to explain the frantic opposition to the plebiscite by the proponents of legalising same-sex marriage?

    • pgang says:

      I don’t think it’s fear of a loss. I think they just refuse to allow anything to stand in their path. There is a chance they might lose, which might set their cause back slightly. Therefore the opportunity must be negated. Coercive methods are much more to their liking. But in the end I think they will well win the vote and it saddens me to say so. I hope I’m wrong, but as the article says it will be decided in Sydney and Melbourne where all the noise comes from in the first place. There will even be many so-called Christians who vote yes because they simply have no idea what Christianity is.

      • Bill Martin says:

        Sadly, your reasoning seems quite sound. More the pity.

      • ianl says:

        > I don’t think it’s fear of a loss

        Agreed. But uncomfortable questions about children being raised in single-gender homes may be asked during the plebiscite campaigning. Although this doesn’t interest me at all, the only comment I’ve seen on this child-raising issue basically said that “debate” was over, done and dusted. I’m sure I must have missed it ! So the hypocrisy poked its’ head up at me; I don’t mix very well at all with hypocrisy.

        The advocates on this issue much prefer closed-room deals with dissembling politicians to noisy public debate with those they regards as bogans.

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    I’ll say nothing and vote.

    There are millions like me.

  6. Matt says:

    The key public figures in this debate — conservatives, politicians, activists and religious leaders alike — would only have themselves to blame. For too many years the approach to opposing this agenda has been akin to tackling a noxious fast-growing vine by pruning leaves. There has been a uniform refusal to publicly attack the root of the issue. Instead strategies have been deployed that only add to the problem. Either tacitly or explicitly in the process they have actually given the opposition exactly the victory they want: legitimacy.

    Forget about this stuff about families, procreation and children. The simple reality that screams out is that homosexual behaviour has no legitimate place in our society. None whatsoever. End of story. Everything else is a diversion.

    The reasoning that is used to legitimise homosexual behaviour is a deception that is very readily uncovered and falsified. Born that way? Yeah right. Since when does biological predisposition justify behaviour such as alcohol abuse, violence, criminality, pedophilia etc.? Mutual romantic love? Yeah right. Child marriage, incest, pedophilia. Cultural norms? Yeah right. Child marriage again, mutilation of girls etc. No harm done? Yeah right. Then why is HIV/AIDS such a homosexual issue and why did it arise coincidental with the decriminalisation of sodomy? Suicide rate is high therefore we should say ‘it’s ok’. Yeah right. Suicide is high among pedophiles and other criminals too. Should we tell them ‘it’s ok’? The long and the short is that there is no justification for legitimising this perversity. That which has always been perverse will always be perverse.

    Megaphone custodians need to stand up and call a spade a spade.

    To those who have a problem with this attitude all I can suggest is to take it up with the God whom I worship. His opinion is that homosexual behaviour is detestable, and I’m with him.

    • Bill Martin says:

      Reading this, I was surprised that a glaring parallel between homosexuality and Islam emerged. The homosexual lobby attained its current power because opposition to it became ever more feeble. Had society maintained a consistent attitude of uncompromising disapproval – not necessarily the criminalisation of the phenomenon – it would have been held in check, instead of being allowed to run rampant. The process applies exactly the same to Islam. Unless we steadfastly oppose granting one concession after another to Muslims, Islam will also overtake us and that is an even more perilous threat to our future well-being.

  7. Rob Brighton says:

    Why is this being viewed via the lense of religion? It is not considered so by my happily cohabitated lesbian atheist niece (what a mouthful that is, I hasten to add she would not describe herself that way), she just wants to marry her partner and mum of their child of nearly 18 years.

    Why cant we stop “them” them being those who would use a simple desire of my nieces to further a political view?

    Are we incapable of arguing the subtleties? Yes “they” will try but are we that lost?

    We are fighting the wrong person, we ought be fighting the regressive left who will use this as stick to beat us, my niece just wants to marry her life partner just like the princess in the stories I read her when she was a wee tacker.