Contributed by Joe Montero
The same sex marriage debate has attracted national attention. It is an important issue, especially for those directly affected by it.
This is also about what kind of society we want to be. How we respond, marks the degree to which we have progressed as a civilisation. It is why the debate has taken on the form of a battle, between a view of the world that would propel us backward into intolerance and bigotry and the alternative, which stands for a more inclusive and caring future.
Whether as individual one is for or against same sex marriage, this cannot be separated from the this broader view.
Sections of organised religious fundamentalism have taken up a crusade against what they consider to be a fundamental threat to their view of the world and have done so with a frenzy.Politicians have, through a mixture of their own prejudices and cynical opportunism, politicians joined in propping up this crusade.
On the face of it, this should have been a simple matter of legislating that the right to marriage should be open to everyone, without discrimination. But such a simple and obvious solution has not been allowed. Instead,there have been the contortions that led to the plebiscite, and then the postal ballot.
At worst, the mess is the result of the failure to reach agreement within its own ranks. At worst, it is deliberate. One thing should be clear by now. The Australian government’s action has been to avoid arriving at a resolution to keep the matter festering.
At a time when the political system and the politicians are increasingly reviled by society, for the ongoing failure to resolve the prominent issues of the time, political instability increases. Being a government becomes harder and there is the threat that people might turn to alternatives. For those that fear this, there is a great incentive to turn public attention to a single issue that might be manipulated to divide public opinion and hide other matters.
The Turnbull government is internally fractured, largely impotent and desperate to turn attention from its mounting list of failings.
Political factionalism, bigotry and opportunism have combined, to create an alliance that aims to turn back the march of history. Ultimately, this is about propping up privilege, which by definition, means that there are those who must be less privileged.
It is the link that connects the campaign against marriage equality with the war against so-called political correctness. Whether its champions are aware of it or not, their crusade is ultimately a crusade for inequality.
If we go back far enough, is is not hard to see that there has been a legal connection between marriage and property, inheritance and the woman becoming the property of the man. This commercialisation of marriage has distorted personal relationships, and the higher up the scale of wealth and privilege, the more so.
Thus, those who wish to hold back the tide of history, are less concerned with the impact on individuals than they are of what their perception of a threat to their concept of society. They warn that allowing same sex marriage will tear this concept apart.
It also explains why the alliance to turn back the clock of history, devotes so much passion to preventing same sex marriage and so little to dealing with the problems faced by the First Australians, the poor in general; and don’t forget the plight of refugees incarcerated in what should properly be called concentration camps. Nor there is evidence of proportional concern for the decline in wages, the housing crisis and lost opportunities for Australia’s young. After all, maintaining a system of social privilege for some requires those who are the losers.
We don’t have to look too far back, to see that these are the same elements in Australian society that (like Tiny Abbott) fought hard to prevent the change that allowed no-fault divorce and against the legal recognition of de facto relationships. Get the point?
For some, their opposition to marriage equality is a matter of genuine faith, entrenched in their own vision of a tradition. They can apply this to themselves, but have no right to impose it on others. And whether it is consciously recognised or not, the commercialisation of marriage should not be ignored.
To the crusaders, the blocking of same sex marriage is a milestone in the greater war.
The latest Galaxy poll showed that most people of faith, have joined the majority of Australians who do support marriage equality. This is a force that stands on the opposite side of history, striving for inclusion and building a community that values equality and extending rights for all of us.
As we add our weight to the battle for marriage equality, sight must never be lost of its connection with the the overall tide of history, towards a more inclusive and building a community that values equality and extending rights for all of us.