No one who knows me should be surprised to hear that I have already cast my vote in the postal survey on same-sex marriage; nor would they be surprised to hear I voted No. What surprised me, despite my well known views on the subject and two Quadrant Online essays were the efforts of friends and family to persuade me otherwise.
It seemed a bit silly. I tend to think that if your mind is decided one way or the other you are unlikely to change it, regardless of the arguments of the other side. However, if someone of your acquaintance is wavering there is a chance they are open to being persuaded. It is my intention to simplify the arguments for voting No so readers can share with undecided friends and family reasons to vote in favour of keeping the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
There are five key considerations making No the only way to vote:
This is the most basic reason to oppose same-sex marriage and, contrary to popular belief, this is not a religious position determined by Judaism, Christianity or Islam. It flows directly from the laws of nature. My wife, an atheist, voted No for this reason: nature made us male and female for the purposes of procreation and nurturing children. The concept of marriage being between men and women flowed from this and was universal to all societies until very recent times, when the gay lobby’s efforts to change social norms and laws began to accelerate.
The same-sex marriage lobby is trying to turn nature on its head to suggest that marriage can be between two people of the same sex. It is a nonsense, indeed a travesty of nature. Under no circumstances can a couple of the same sex procreate without the intervention of (very costly) methods by doctors and lab technicians. The existence of infertile couples or couples who choose to remain childless does not negate this argument because, all things being equal, only a man and woman can create life naturally, normally. Anything else is unnatural. The abnormality does not end here.
Rights of the child
From the above point it flows that marriage really is, and always has been, about children. Apart from making babies, marriage traditionally also has been about the rearing of the children born to a union of a man and woman. It flows from this that every child has a natural right to know their natural parents and be reared by them. The American anti-gay marriage activist Katy Faust makes the best argument in her 2015 letter to US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy:
Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.
What’s interesting about Faust’s argument is that she was raised by her mother and her mother’s lesbian partner. Faust is both respectful and sensitive to the love her mother and partner have for each other. But as a child raised in that family she is under no delusion that she missed out on something – the influence and love of her natural father. She does not deny that gay people can make good parents. Indeed, she praises her mother and her mother’s partner for their parenting. Faust says she is “for adults having the freedom to live as they please.” But she recognises that the children in a gay couple’s relationship are secondary to the desires of the gay couple who head up the household. She explains:
Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. It moves us well beyond our “live and let live” philosophy into the land where our society promotes a family structure where children will always suffer loss. It will be our policy, stamped and sealed by the most powerful of governmental institutions, that these children will have their right to be known and loved by their mother and/or father stripped from them in every instance. In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child. [Faust’s original emphasis]
Faust’s letter to Justice Kennedy concluded that “when they come of age, many [children raised by gay married couples] will wonder why the separation from one parent who desperately mattered to them was celebrated as a ‘triumph of civil rights’, and they will turn to this generation for an answer.”
Faust’s viewpoint (her blog, Ask the Bigot, is worth reading) should give us pause for thought before we rush headlong to allow same-sex marriage. If we care at all for the rights of children we should at a minimum demand more research on the impact on children raised by same sex couples before changing the definition of marriage.
Not all love is equal
The main argument for changing the definition of marriage put forward by the same-sex marriage lobby is that love is love. Love is all that matters. Love is above everything else. Therefore you should be able to marry the person you love even if they are of the same sex. Although this sounds reasonable it is a philosophical nonsense. It lacks analytical rigour.
If all you need is love, sweet love, because it is the only thing there is too little of (to borrow from the 1965 pop song), you should be able to marry your mother or father or sibling. And you should be able to marry more than one person as long as you are all consenting adults who feel “the love”. But the truth is society has never treated all love equally. It has always looked at love and marriage through a philosophical lens, and that lens has led to discrimination (in the positive sense of the word) based on natural law (see 1 above).
If love alone is to be the definition for marriage where do we draw the line? Siblings should be allowed to marry each other, especially in our age of effective contraception and readily available abortion. And why not allow polygamous and polyamorous marriagesl, so long as all parties to those marriages are content with their arrangements?
Love alone as the qualification for marriage puts us on a very slippery slope indeed. We should have no doubt that changing the definition of marriage to allow same-sex marriage is likely to be the first of many changes to come. Already a lobby pushing for “full marriage equality” to include polyamorous relationships is forming (the Polyamory Action Lobby in NSW has a Facebook page). And the German Ethics Council has recommended the legalisation of incest, including between siblings.
Parents’ have rights too
There should be no doubt that the same-sex marriage lobby is about a broader agenda. It is not about equality. That broader agenda includes promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism, including to children in primary as well as secondary schools. The Safe Schools programme introduced in Victoria earlier this year was just the tip of the iceberg. It has more to do with promoting gay and transgender identity politics than protecting children from bullying.
There should be little doubt that more programmes like Safe Schools will be rolled out after same-sex marriage is allowed. In the cases of Canada and the UK that has already started to happen. In Canada one father, dentist Dr Steve Tourloukis, took his local school board to the Ontario Supreme Court because of his disagreement over the sexually explicit material being taught in sex education classes to his primary school children, which he claimed violated his right of freedom of religion. While the court recognised his freedom of religion, it nevertheless ruled in favour of the school board, saying public schools had a right to promote “inclusivity, equality and multiculturalism.”
I am aware of a couple in the UK currently considering removing their six year old from the local public school to home-school him because of their concerns about the gender politics material taught in sex education. As his mother put it: “He doesn’t need to be taught about gender fluidity when he can’t decide what he wants for breakfast most mornings. If I don’t start home-schooling him it will be a diet of fruit loops everyday!”
Your right as a parent to decide what your primary school child is taught in sex education should be paramount. And it should be based in your right as a parent, not the concept of religious freedom enshrined in our legislation. Every parent should be concerned that gay marriage without adequate protections of their rights as parents is dangerous. And those rights should not just be based on religion because even atheists and agnostics may be concerned about this broader agenda of the LGBTQI lobby.
Don’t trust the politicians
The Yes campaign and some from the No campaign (such as Treasurer Scott Morrison) are saying we should trust our politicians to do the right thing when they introduce the final legislation, should Yes prevail. The “trust me, I’m a politician” argument shouldn’t wash. These are the same people who have managed, somehow, to turn a nation replete with energy resources into a basket-case of expensive, increasingly unreliable, industry-hobbling electricity. Trust them to do anything more than cash their pay cheques? You must be joking! More than that and given the hostile Senate, who knows what deals will be done to get the legislation through? What accommodations and compromises will be made on the rights of parents, religious freedom and freedom of speech? We don’t know, but bet your bottom dollar that there will be plenty of them.
The truth is that the devil is going to be in the detail of any legislation to protect religious freedom and freedom of speech. It is going to be much more complicated than simply exempting churches, mosques and synagogues and their clergy from performing gay wedding ceremonies. As former Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks explained, religious belief should not be entirely divorced from community standards. Read Ms Banks submission to a federal community and know that all talk of religious freedom comes with caveats and qualifications.
Inevitably, any legislation will crimp the rights of religious-based schools to opt out of Safe Schools programmes and the like. It will go to whether a baker must bake a cake for a gay wedding reception. And what of the solicitor who doesn’t want to draft the will of a gay couple? Or the doctor who doesn’t want to help a gay couple conceive a child through IVF? Or the employee who doesn’t want to take part in the office lunch to celebrate a gay colleague’s upcoming wedding? Or the rights of the employee who posts his opposition to same-sex marriage on his Facebook page after gay marriage is legalised?
Finally, consider that the above questions will rest in the hands of George “Burqa” Brandis, Pauline Hanson, Sarah Hanson-Young, Jacqui Lambie, Penny Wong and Derryn Hinch. Do you really trust that crew to get it right, to craft reliable legislation tgat will protect your rights. Delivering pizza, they just might be able to handle with a reasonable degree of competence. But delivering Solomonic justice? The thought of it should make you shudder.
So, you still want to hand our political class that “marriage equality” blank cheque? We really should be voting to leave well enough alone.
Alistair Nicholas is a Sydney-based public affairs executive and conservative writer