I wonder what wording will be used in the upcoming marriage plebiscite, assuming it goes ahead. Maybe it will say something like this:
The current Marriage Act (1961) as amended in 2004 defines marriage as “the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” The Act therefore, as it stands, allows marriage only between a man and a woman.
The question before you is whether in your opinion the Act should be amended by the Australian Parliament to allow people of the same gender to marry? Put a cross in the YES box below if you think the Act should be changed to allow a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman or put a cross in the NO box if you think the Act should remain unchanged, allowing marriage only between a man and woman.
I am not an expert in these things and am confident that parliamentary draftspersons will do a much better job. But you will notice that in my amateur version there is no mention of ‘marriage equality’. This I believe is important. ‘Equality’ is such a seductive concept that hardly anybody could possibly disagree with it.
Some members of my own family have been seduced by it, I feel. Certainly the YES campaign will use it mercilessly to prosecute its case. That’s fair enough as part of a partisan campaign. But it shouldn’t be given any official imprimatur because it is entirely misleading.
As a non-transsexual, non-transgender, non-transvestite, non-gender-confused man I am cruelly excluded from Miss Trans Brazil or Miss Ladyboy pageants, to cite just two of many such events. Oh the sheer inequality of it! That’s not the end of it, nor is it the end of the beginning of it. I bet that if I were to ask whether I could try on a negligee in the women’s change room in a posh department store some sassy sales assistant would raise her eyebrows in a way designed to humiliate me. Gillian Triggs and 18C may eventually come to my rescue but, in the meantime, the damage to my psyche could be incalculable.
God is responsible for all this unequal treatment, as I will explain if you bear with me.
The Catholic Church in its Catechism (nos. 1936 & 1937 for those interested) makes it plain that inequality in physical and mental abilities and in wealth and other things is part of God’s plan. Similarly, God is responsible for creating inequalities and differences between men and women.
Men are taller and stronger than women on the whole. Women have more attractive and refined features. Men and women also have different anatomies; as one can tell when viewing them naked. This anatomical difference was put in place by God to encourage and facilitate procreation.
He could have made all human beings the same I suppose but decided, in His great wisdom, to create complementary genders rather than have a whole race of self-impregnating, child-bearing, hermaphrodites. However, His way of bringing this about through evolution inevitably leads to variations from the norm. Sometimes the human genome spirals out of sync; to be terribly scientific about it. Thus some men like men and some women like women, and some don’t know who they like; jolly good show. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
Where am I going with this you might ask? Well, where I am going is to say that equality is not the natural order of things. If the Olympic governing body won’t allow you to compete because you can only run the 100 metres in, say, 40 seconds you have to take it on the chin. Sure, you might feel hard done by. But take a well-rounded view. It is not as if they are excluding you because of irrelevancies such as your ethnicity, religion or physical appearance.
The world is full of open and shut doors. The key is whether the qualifying criteria which let in some and not others are fair, reasonable and relevant. Marriage is not and never set out to be an exclusionary institution. It was purpose built to formalise unions of one man to one woman, who were getting together to procreate and provide a stable home for their progeny. Often the objection raised to this model of marriage is that not all married people can or do have children. True enough, but they form part of a whole body of unions of males and females from which children spring.
Unions of people of the same gender can never bring forth children. Their unions are worthy of recognition but they are not marriages; as the institution of marriage has been defined and recognised since time immemorial. They simply don’t fit the criteria. There is nothing discriminatory about this.
Equality is a meaningful goal when applied across a homogeneous set. It is not necessarily meaningful when applied across a heterogeneous set. For example, it might make sense to aim for equal pay for people with the same skills doing the same job. It makes no sense to aim for equal pay for those with different skills doing different jobs.
Gay and lesbian couples are not the same as heterosexual couples. They don’t together form a homogeneous set. Ergo, treating them differently is not tantamount to treating them unequally.
The catchcry of ‘marriage equality’ when applied across heterosexual and same-sex couples is a complete red herring. Will that prevent it being used as a siren song to snare the unwary? Of course not, but the term should not form part of any information or material issued by the Government or the Parliament.