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June 29th 2016 print

Kevin Donnelly

Do Gays Really Want Gay Marriage?

If you heed the loudest activists, politicians and advocates, nothing could be more important than winning the right to wed. Examine either of two comprehensive surveys of attitudes and outlooks in the gay community and a very different picture becomes immediately apparent

gay marriageThe ALP’s Bill Shorten and Penny Wong argue that we cannot have a plebiscite on marriage because the Australian people, supposedly, are homophobic, transphobic and heteronormative –- as argued by the Marxist inspired Safe Schools Coalition material. Both the ALP leader and senator also argue that marriage is one of the last obstacles to true liberation and equality and this explains why the LGBTI community overwhelmingly endorses changing the Commonwealth’s marriage act to include same-sex couples.

Wrong.  The real reason is because Shorten and Wong are afraid that if the question of changing the marriage act is put to the Australian people sanity will prevail and the answer will be ‘no’.  Add the fact that a sizeable number of Australia’s LGBTI community are not interested in same-sex marriage and it’s clear why the ALP want the decision made by Parliament.  Not only do many gays and lesbians prefer the freedom of multiple partners to a relationship “to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” but surveys also show that being able to marry is definitely not a priority.

Describing itself as one of the “largest surveys of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) people ever conducted” the report titled Private Lives: A report on the health and wellbeing of GLBTI Australians concludes that marriage recognition is a very minor issue. The report states “Only a small percentage of men and women (between 5-10%) reported formalising the relationship with a marriage or commitment ceremony, while most others had no wish to do so”.

When discussing relationship status the report also notes, “It is of interest that the majority of respondents between (52% of men and 39% of women) indicated no intention or wish to formalise their current relationship”.

A second national survey, titled Monopoly: A Study of Gay Men’s Relationships and involving 4,215 gay and bisexual online respondents plus face-to-face interviews, reports a similar conclusion in relation to gay men. Under the heading ‘Marriage & Other Ceremonies’ the survey states, “only a minority of men indicated they would like to marry their primary regular partner”.  In relation to men with multiple partners, as might be expected, the percentage answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘Would you marry partner’ sits at 11%.

As to why marriage is not an important issue, the second survey goes on to suggest that one of the principal reasons is because a significant number of gay men are not committed to monogamous relationships.  In relation to gay men with a regular partner the second survey concludes, “only a third of the men described their relationship as monogamous” while the first survey notes “gay men are much more likely than the other groups to have known their most recent sexual partner for less than 24 hours”.

While is it true that marriage between a man and a woman is not always monogamous or lasting, as previously stated those wishing to marry pledge themselves to a relationship “to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. The ideal is where two people commit themselves to one another in a lasting bond based on mutual trust and respect.  While an uncomfortable truth to some, it is also the case that marriage involves procreation; something denied in gay and lesbian relationships (see “The Gay Deceivers“, Quadrant Online).

GLBTI school programs such as the Safe Schools Coalition and Victoria’s Building Respectful Relationships, as they are seeking to normalise GLBTI relationships, present a positive image that fails to acknowledge the dangers and risks. In relation to domestic violence the Private Lives survey reports that the incidence of partner abuse is “disturbingly high” and “the levels of experience of domestic violence represent a considerable burden of distress and injury for GLBTI people”.

While concluding, “it is also clear that most GLBTI people live happy and fulfilled lives” the survey also notes that GLBTI people face unacceptable levels of discrimination and violence and high levels of anxiety and depression.

In relation to mental health, “Nearly three quarters of the sample reported some experience of depression in the past” and, even worse, “16% of all respondents indicated suicidal ideation (thoughts) in the two weeks prior to completing the survey”. While same sex marriage is an issue at the top of the ALP’s policy wish list, it is significant and revealing that those most affected by any change to the marriage act seem so little concerned or interested.

It’s also the case, based on the two national surveys, that if Bill Shorten and Penny Wong are seriously committed to improving the life of LGBTI people then they would address the issues that most impact on them, instead of wasting time, energy and resources on a politically correct, largely irrelevant campaign about marriage.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of Taming the Black Dog

 

 

Comments [23]

  1. Rob Ellison says:

    Again – potential for procreation emerges from a commentary on a an article of the UN (eyes roll) Declaration of Human Rights. It neither implies the necessity of procreation or indeed of marriage being between one man and one woman. Irrelevant on multiple grounds. As indeed whether most gays want to get married. I think they should get married. They should suffer like the rest of us. You mightn’t like it on some visceral level but you need a better argument than this.

    “It’s demonstrably not the same as heterosexual marriage – the religious and social significance of a gay wedding ceremony simply isn’t the same,” says a gay man in liberal Massachusetts. “I’m not going to walk down the aisle to Mendelssohn wearing white in a church and throw a bouquet and do the first dance,” adds his partner quite sensibly.

    And it really isn’t. As reluctant as I am to impose my will on others – a gay and his queen marrying seems more playing at gender stereotype dress ups than a sacred institution.

    But the principle of equality before the law – a principle much older than Article 7 of the UN Declaration – can’t be got around. If government demands to make laws on marriage it must be open to all regardless. Although that seems contrary to the principle of freedom of religion. In my view – marriage should be left to churches and government content itself with civil unions.

    • Tezza says:

      I have some sympathy for Rob’s preferred separation of church marriage from civil union, but that is not what is on offer, or what the queer lobbyists and progressives want. They want to co-opt churches to officiate at their gender stereotype dress ups, and thereby continue the debasement of the churches and the progressive march through the institutions. The intellectual dishonesty of all that, so well evidenced in Kevin’s essay, is why I guess I will vote against gay marriage.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        At this stage no seems a losing proposition – with 60% inclined to yes at the moment. The US Supreme Court just voted 5-4 in favour of gay marriage on 14th Amendment grounds – equality before the law. A simple and inescapable proposition.

        “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

        But marriage is defined by religion and tradition and government has no mandate to redefine marriage regardless of the outcome of a plebiscite. It is making a law on religion – violating a fundamental human right in civilised democracies. It seems arguably unconstitutional under Section 116 of the Australian Constitution.

  2. Allowing exceptions for Churches and religions leaves a big hole for those who have objections for reasons other than religion. Will it be like the Vietnam period when a conscientious objector needed to defend their principles in court?

  3. Jody says:

    The ‘gays’ may not want ‘gay’ marriage but the legal professional surely will!! Cole Porter was prescient indeed when he wrote “The Gay Divorcee”!!!

  4. Rob Brighton says:

    My niece is in a lesbian relationship, has been for years. They have a child who is a normal 15-year-old, she likes boys, her mums encourage her to be what she wants within the normal parameters of parenthood.
    I asked them what they thought about all of this and they tell me that they care not a single jot one way or the other, they had a ceremony at the local beach with a celebrant which was enough for them.

    With my limited experience I can only draw the conclusion ….. who cares? Divorce is hardly relevant, SSM who cohabit are stuck with the same laws as everyone else.

    Putting aside personal revulsion of private practices and providing any laws are written in such a way that does not leave those who object to the SSM being forced to provide services and the like that are abhorrent to their belief systems for the life of me I can see no reason why one would object.

    The devil is in the detail, I would like to see the laws before writing the politicians a blank cheque.

  5. Alistair says:

    To my mind defining the term “marriage” as the joining of a man and a women (or a woman and a bridge) together misses the main point. It is the creation of a legal entity called “the family” in which the rights and responsibilities of the partners is formalised, and legal protections from those outside the marriage are assured. The purpose is to create a unit for the raising of children within the legal protection of the marriage. The Family is the main unit through which culture and values are passed toi the next generation. Culture – that which one learns on one’s mother’s knee. Not all families follow the “normal” model, but it is in the interests of the children, and indeed the society, that the children are raised within the legal protection of a “marriage” by their genetic parents. To join two people or objects and call it marriage devalues this arrangement, but to set about creating abnormal family relationships from the beginning does not auger well for the future of the society. And here I would include the abomination of the “single parent family”. These should be the exception not the rule.

  6. Rob Brighton says:

    It goes further than mental health, If my niece’s other half was involved in a major accident are you aware that she can be excluded from the ICU? That in the case of death she cannot have a hand in funeral arrangments? Deal with her partner’s body?

    That they are not treated the same as those in a defacto relationship?

    That is not kind, that is cruel.

    It’s not getting dressed up in matching ken doll suits that matter, it is having their relationship being treated equally under the law when it relates to their relationship.

    They are taxed as couples are subject to the same child support rules as defacto or married couples and yet are not dealt with as couples.

    Why?

  7. Bill Martin says:

    My comment of “Just wondering Rob, has anybody ever mentioned to you that you are a crushing bore?” was unambiguously appended to a comment by Bob Ellison, I did not at first realise that Bob Brighton mistakenly “took ownership of it”. My apologies for my confusion over the the two Bobs, no apologies concerning the comment, though.

    • Rob Brighton says:

      So you did Bill, computers and I have only a passing acquaintance despite hours sat at this technological marvel working. If the shoe fits and all of that explains my response, for which I unreservedly apologise.

    • Rob Ellison says:

      I refrained from replying because I know Bill too little to care. It is an example of the different rules that apply on the interweb than in interpersonal discourse. The lack of civility is a problem to be moderated and I am surprised that it wasn’t. I am all for free speech but the lack of any intellectual content simply distracts from the real substance. The lack of apology is likewise utterly unimportant.

      The particular comment concerned the existence of anti-discrimination legislation. A relevant reality which may escape Bill while his head is up his arse.

  8. I married a very long time ago under the rites of the Catholic Church kindly endorsed by the Tasmanian Marriage Act. That Act offered my wife and I no value whatsoever and, in any case, itg was soon superseded when the Feds took over. Since then the Feds have radically changed their Marriage Act at least twice for the benefit mainly of bureaucrats and lawyers. Despite many enquiries no one has been able to justify to me why governments must regulate marriage. Every time they do so, they create a bigger mess.

  9. MickL says:

    If only the labour tossers came at this issue from a freedom perspective instead of the opposite. It seems wrong to vote on gay marriage, just as it would be wrong for us to vote to make interracial marriage illegal. If I had a deep belief that an Asian marrying an Aussie threatens the fabric of marriage would that be any more sane that believing that gays marrying each other is bad for society? Would it be moral for the majority to deny the minority who want to marry interracially?

    It seems to me that the kind of queers that want to marry are the kind that make good parents and good citizens, and the statistics on the walfare of kids from gay marriage seems to overwhelmingly support this.