Monthly Archives: September 2012

“Kind of relationships”

One of the difficulties faced by anti-marriage pro-discrimination advocates in their attempt to argue that the law should discriminate against same-sex couples in marriage law because “marriage should be limited to those who can procreate” is that even a cursory examination of marriage as understood and practised throughout the world today would throw up many, many childless married couples for whom not having children turned out not to make their marriages meaningless after all.

So they have to try to find a way to distinguish between these childless but married heterosexual couples and childless but MUST NOT BE MARRIED homosexual couples.

And one superficially-appealing way of doing that is by talking about the “kind of relationships” that produce children. Trying to define a broad category so you can ignore the contradictory examples as outliers.

On closer inspection, it doesn’t work at all.

First, it doesn’t explain how it is that we don’t bat an eyelid at childless marriages, which you’d think we would if child-production and child-rearing were an essential element of marriage. Are these marriages real marriages or not? If they are real marriages, then there must be more to marriage than children and the absence of children can’t possibly be a ground to prevent other couples from marrying. If they are not real marriages, then where’s your proposal for the law to start insisting on fertility licences?

(It’s like the polygamy thing – if you’ve seriously got a polygamous proposal in mind, people who keep raising it in order to avoid discussing gay marriage specifically, put it up for us to assess. Because by asserting one “must” follow the other, the slippery slope assumes there’s no significant difference between the proposals, that there are no big problems with polygamy not present in gay marriage. If there are, then we could easily have one and not the other. If there aren’t, then those problems must be present in the gay marriage proposal, in which case COULD YOU TELL US WHAT THEY ARE? If you have to raise polygamy, then the clear implication is that the problems are NOT present in same-sex marriage, and therefore would be a reason to block polygamy even after we pass same-sex marriage. Which of course is why anti-equality advocates will never actually specify what is wrong with the polygamous proposal they imagine – because it would immediately demonstrate why it’s fundamentally different from gay marriage, and implode their “slippery slope” assertion that it “must” follow it. Like the “childbearing is an essential part of marriage” line, the “polygamy will follow gay marriage” assertion isn’t a real argument the people raising it genuinely believe – it’s just there to muddy the waters.)

Secondly, the level at which you draw your “kind of” general category is completely arbitrary. Maybe this Venn diagram will help:

kind of relationships that produce children

You can say that each of those categories, at different levels of specificity, are “the kind of relationships that produce children”. But it’s entirely arbitrary to draw it at any one level. If you’re going to accept relationships that don’t produce children – which by extending marriage beyond the smallest pink circle you already are – then why stop at the level of gender? If you’re going to include marriages where the participants refuse to have children, and then above that the broader category of marriages where the couples are infertile, then why not include same-sex couples where the couples are infertile?

If child-rearing is an essential element of marriage, then what is the justification for arbitrarily drawing the line at one of these levels and not another?

The anti-equality anti-marriage people have no answer to that, because they aren’t trying to make marriage more about children, they’re not trying to discourage infertile people from marrying unless they’re gay, and they’re not trying to encourage couples with children (which includes gay people) to get married. They are simply looking for plausible-sounding excuses to justify discrimination against gay people they really want for much baser reasons they can’t describe in public.

98 names of shame

98 names on a list of shame that will embarrass not only all our descendants, but theirs in particular:

About exactly the reverse of how Australians, based on any recent polls on the issue, have asked their representatives to vote.

Shame to Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott, Mr Rudd – and my former local MP, Mike Symon, who repeatedly refused to meet with me to discuss marriage equality because he’s a gutless wonder who doesn’t deserve to hold the marginal seat he does.

Marriage equality will still happen within the next decade – it’s inevitable. The issue is simply not going away until there is full equality. There is no way now that people will settle for less. There is no victory for the discrimination side (short of Australia falling into a post-apocalyptic nightmarish theocratic state) that can last.

Enjoy your brief success in making gay people live under a couple more years of discrimination, bigots. It shames you, and it won’t last.

Why won’t anyone think of the borders?

Another day ruined for me by a few hundred people arriving in boats four or five thousand kilometres away and seeking refuge in our enormous and sparsely-populated nation of twenty two million people.

As I drove back from work on a dangerous highway between unrepaired black spots I marvelled that anyone could care about issues other than unannounced maritime arrivals. While I was waiting at an underfunded emergency department to see a doctor there was nothing that could distract me from thinking about how crowded the country would get in twenty thousand years if they kept coming at that rate. When I got home to the tiny flat we’re stuck renting because investors have priced us out of any hope of ever buying a home of our own, I despaired at the notion that do-gooder leftists have bullied the government into not deliberately keeping refugee families apart like in the good old days. As I filled in my credit card details for the unmanageable private school fees we’re forced to pay so that our kids don’t miss out on a decent education at the impoverished local public school, I wondered when the politicians would finally devote some serious energy to protecting the precious national borders I’ve never seen before in my life.

God I can’t wait for Tony Abbott to become PM and spend a huge amount of taxpayer money STOPPING THE BOATS. There are few issues that impact on my daily life more.

Also, the other side smells

Cory Bernardi explains to his acolytes the real divide in Australian politics:

There are two distinct facets to politics in Australia today. One is based on rational concerns about the direction in which our nation is heading and the other is about doing whatever it takes to cling to power.

Such insight!

Well, we’re still doing the podcast…

It’s weird – the longer you go without writing a post, the more difficult it is to post anything. Because it has to be good enough to sit there for days, maybe weeks at a time. Because it’ll look like that’s the only thing that’s interested you over the last few weeks. Because you’ve gotten out of the habit.

Is this how a blog dies? Not with a bang, but a whimper?