The Western Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith supports gay and lesbian marriage on the basis that “there are so many wanting to get married”. Another liberal politician, North Sydney’s Trent Zimmerman, also supportssame-sex marriage, arguing it’s wrong to “deny the right of all Australians to be married”.
Other supporters of this radical change to Australia’s social fabric, such as the Australian Labor Party’s Bill Shorten and Penny Wong, also want the public to believe that gays and lesbians are desperate to be married in the same way heterosexual couples are.
Wrong. As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good argument. The reality is that the majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people are not committed to long-term, monogamous relationships symbolised by the institution of marriage.
Based on two national surveys, Private Lives: A report on the health and wellbeing of GLBTI Australians and Monopoly a Study of Gay Men’s Relationships, it’s obvious that a significant number of LGBTQI people prefer a more fluid and transient lifestyle. The first survey concludes, “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.” That survey 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”.
The second survey reaches a similar conclusion, stating “only a minority of men indicated they would like to marry their primary regular partner”. For men with multiple partners, as might be expected, the percentage answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘Would you marry partner’ sits at 11%.
It’s ironic that while Smith, Zimmerman, Shorten and Wong argue in favour of same-sex marriage many in the LGBTQI community, apart from a few radicalised individuals, show no real interest and, in fact, prefer a more promiscuous lifestyle. In addition to same-sex marriage advocates mistakenly arguing that gays and lesbians want to embrace traditional marriage they argue that any public debate associated with a plebiscite will lead to public attacks against the LGBTQI community, causing anxiety and distress.
Labor leader Shorten goes so far as to imply any debate will lead to gays and lesbians committing suicide. Penny Wong argues “I oppose a plebiscite because I don’t want my relationship – my family – to be subject of inquiry, of censure, of condemnation, by others”.
Ignored is that it has been the advocates of same-sex marriage that have been the most offensive. Bill Shorten, for example, when arguing against a plebiscite, stated, “I don’t want to give haters a chance to come out from under the rock and make life harder for LGBTI people or their families”. Katherine Hudson the co-founder of the LGBTQI advocacy group Wear It Purple has compared advocates of heterosexual marriage to “dictators, despots and despicable leaders, including Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mugabe and ISIS terrorists”.
One only needs to remember the storm of protest against Australia’s tennis legend Margaret Court after she argued against same sex marriage to see where the real bias and prejudice reside.
Liberal politicians like Smith and Zimmerman also oppose a plebiscite on the basis that a public debate will lead to open displays of hostility. Ignored is that Australia, with the odd exception, is a mature, civil society and that the majority of voters are able to debate issues sensibly and in a balanced way. The logic is specious, based on the assumption that straight Australians are maelstroms of suppressed homophobia – an appraisal for which the widespread acceptance of homosexuality offers not the slightest evidence.
Also ignored is that while we have a parliamentary democracy where our elected politicians decide policies on our behalf, sovereignty lies with the people. Voters are sick of politicians failing to keep their promises, and there can be no doubt the Turnbull government was elected on its promise that the citizenry would decide the marriage issue.
Read and listen to advocates of same-sex marriage and the impression is that a significant number of Australians are LGBTQI and that heterosexuality is no longer the norm. The infamous Safe Schools program being implemented in schools, for example, argues that about 15% of students are LGBTQI, also that gender is fluid, limitless and self-defined. As a result, the thinking goes, marriage should no longer simply involve a man and a woman.
The truth is that approximately 98% of Australians identify as heterosexual and only a small percentage of the 2% that are LGBTQI express a desire to embrace the traditional view of marriage – one that by definition involves a male and a female for the purpose of procreation.
It is also true that same-sex couples already enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexuals couples , it’s just that relationships are called “civil unions”. As the Liberals in Canberra thrash this issue out behind closed doors let us that someone in the room points out that that the gay-marriage furore has everything to do with re-writing the dictionary definition of marriage and very little in regard to human rights.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University