Allan Takes Aim Blog

Same sex marriage: an Agnostic’s view

Posted on: 15 October 2011


Originally published www.onlineopinion.com.au Friday, 14 October 2011

As a former Canberra Branch President of Friends of the ABC, I write, reluctantly, that ABC radio and Radio National in particular, seems to have become the propaganda arm of the same sex marriage movement. But what finally made me overcome my reluctance to write was ‘Encounter,’ Sunday morning 9 October.

My decision was influenced also by how often the word ‘gay’ manages to crop up in many ABC radio programmes that have nothing to do with same sex issues. Indeed I am tempted to think of it as subliminal advertising. 

The panel of speakers convened to discuss same sex marriage on Encounter contained no surprises. It comprised Rodney Croome spokesperson for the Tasmanian and Lesbian Rights Group and campaign co-ordinator of Australian Marriage Equality; Lee Badgett, Director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration and Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts; Benny Hazlehurst, Anglican Priest and a founding member of Accepting Evangelicals; Rod Benson, Baptist Minister and ethicist at Sydney’s Morling College; Peter Comensoli, an auxiliary Bishop in the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney; Frank Brennan, Jesuit Priest and Professor of law in the Public Policy Institute, the Australian Catholic University; Sandy Miller and Louise Bucke, a Lesbian couple living in Sydney with their children; and David Riddell and Peter Kingston a homosexual couple living in Sydney.   

Unfortunately this panel lacked balance, the pro group outnumbering the anti group. But why no Aborigines, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Taoists, declared Agnostics or Atheists or other non – Christian groups?

The premise of the programme – a wrong premise- was that Christians were the only people who opposed same sex marriage. This premise disturbed me as did host Gary Bryson who, in his summing up at the end of the programme, seemed to suggest that Christians were fighting a losing battle trying to prevent same sex marriage becoming legal.

Rodney Croome was the panel’s opening speaker. In presenting his case for making same sex marriage legal he spoke as if marriage was a Western Christian concept whereas it has existed for millenniums. His other arguments: the marriage act is based on property; it is discriminatory; and that the early Christian Church had hijacked it to ensure a continuing source of adherents.

But had he researched more thoroughly, he would have found that marriage was common in civilisations long before 2000. And had he looked up Hammurabi’s law, of 3,500 years ago, he would have found that while the law allowed homosexuals to enjoy sexual freedom and gave them rights, same sex marriage was not included. The list goes on.

I also found it odd that Mr Croome was not questioned on his statement that the vast majority of Australians supported same sex marriage. So let me ask: How was this information gained? Had it been gained through surveys? If so, where had they been carried out and who carried them out? And, last but not least: who framed the questions?

 These same questions should have been put to Professor Badgett from Massachusetts University. With Massachusetts the first US State to legalise same sex marriage, Professor Badgett’s arguments, based on economic, health and welfare issues said surveys had shown that same sex marriages were beneficial rather than harmful to children. Coming from Massachusetts one might be inclined to think’ she would say that.’ Unfortunately she didn’t say how many of the people surveyed were heterosexual couples with children.

Next came Anglican priest, Benny Hazlehurst, a supporter of same sex marriage who said he came to this view after being anti for a long time.  The reason for changing his mind seemed less than convincing. He changed his mind after re-reading the bible and studying the sections that commented on homosexuality. As a result of his reading he came to the conclusion that marriage was not exclusive to a man and a woman.

The next three speakers, Baptist Minister Rod Benson, Catholic Bishop Peter Comensoli and Jesuit lawyer Frank Brennan presented their arguments as to why marriage could only take place between a man and a woman. But as committed Christians the comments applying to them are as those for Professor Bagget, ‘they would say that’, wouldn’t they?

My reason for raising this issue is because there seems to be view that agnostic and atheists must be on the side of same sex marriage. Not so. I am agnostic and against same sex marriage. My view is that same sex marriage is not a religious matter but a legal matter and that marriage should be the subject of a legal contract specifically for a man and a woman. It seems to me also, that if the men and women who sign such contracts are of strong religious belief, they will try to keep to the contract’s conditions. As for a church ceremony: that will be between them and their Church.

An identical legally binding contract conferring the same social benefits on same sex couples as a marriage contract confers on man and a woman should also be created. What should it be called? I am in no doubt that sensible homosexual, lesbian and transgender couples could suggest an appropriate name. And if they were of strong religious faith they would also observe the terms of their contracts. A church ceremony is also a matter for them and their Church. But what is of importance is that both contracts are equal under these arrangements.

During the discussion the subject of children was raised On this question it seems to me more care needs to be taken when the wording accompanying pictures of two homosexuals, two lesbians or two transgender people posing with children suggest that the couple’s sexual coupling was what caused their conception. The fact is, and much as they might otherwise wish, this cannot be. I also think acceptance would be easier if they stopped using and displaying children in their care like trophies won in what seems to have become an unseemly sex war. 

Finally, perhaps both the religious and same sex groups should cast aside their prejudices for a moment and consider the following: in the future religion might disappear but without children there will be no future.

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54 Responses to "Same sex marriage: an Agnostic’s view"

People today do not seem to put children at the top of their list. They start with very big houses and cars, both filled with all the latest gadgets, with extravagant holidays to “unwind”. Then, one day, they realize that they’ve forgotten something and decide to have a baby. By then, it is often too late to accomplish this unassisted by medical expertise, which often involves large amounts of money. Meanwhile, in Africa, children are starving to death. Our priorities are all wrong.

Lady Marilyn, When children become as desirable as life’s latest gadgets they’ll be top of the shopping lists for those people who, regardless of their state of union, need to be keep up with Jones.

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If the purpose of marriage was merely to produce your own genetic progeny then your position would, on the fae of it have some merit. But only on the face of it. Starting with your main objection which I will simplify somewhat. “We should not have same sex marriage because we never have had same sex marraige”. I do not find that objection particulary worthy of repsonse.

In the U.S. as you know we had a lengthy and protracted civil rights struggle for Black Americans. Eventually we decided that “black only” water fountains, for example, although they may be equal in every way to “white only” water fountains and we deemed to be fundamentally discriminatory under the principle that “separate and equal” is not possible. The creation of separate facillities creates a separate class, a second class if you will. Creating a separate but equal form of marriage, something called “domestic partner” here specifically does this in some states. Sadly, in others homosexuality is still technically a crime carrying stiff prison sentences.

I know of Gays and Lesbians who consider domestic partnerships “good enough” and others who demand full equality and recognition. I also know of Gays and Lesbians who have raised children and I can find little difference between them and children raised in a traditional two parent household except regarding their attitudes toward homosexuality. Some are completely wonderful people, some are completely screwed up. Many are somewhere in the middle. They are however, usually much better off on average than children raised by the state.

Many gays want children. Many have children with the opposite sex before finally facing the truth about their sexuality. Many spend years having covert homosexual affairs. Some who come to it early adopt children that otherwise would not be adopted. These children are no more or less likely to be gay themselves. I am sure that children are far more accepting of a parents homosexuality than a parent is of a childs. That is why homosexual teen homelessness is rampant. I know teens that have come out to a parent only to be told to leave and never return. My step-daughter is not my biological child. I met her first as a teenager. She has accepted me as her father. She tells her friends I’m her dad. Not step-dad. Just dad. She has one biological parent and one not. A situation very similar to what most gay couples can have.

It is sad that English Common law can recognise a marriage after a proscribed period. Here in Florida common law mariage is actually not uncommon. No church, no ceremony but no shortage of beer. 7 years of cohabitation is all it takes. Gays don’t even get this dubious “privilege” but often can provide a better home for a child than a common law marriage will.

Finally, I have yet to hear any credible argument addressing the question “how does gay marriage personally hurt you” and it’s my contention that if no individual is hurt, society cannot be.

It may be of interest to you and your readers that although Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, in the most recent election, Maine was the first to legalize it through the ballot box rather than the courthouse showing that at least in that state the majority did want it.

Scott, Simplifying something so that it will conform to what you want to say is much like not asking questions unless you know the answer. I could not have put my views more clearly: marriage is simply a legal contract that defines the possible outcomes and responsibilities of the man and woman who sign the contract. In the case of a marriage contract one of those outcomes could be children not something possible with any other contract. Contracts between people of other genders will have a different title and different definition but contain the same civil rights. A marriage contract would also contain a suitable clause to cover possible actions should a signatory change mind about their gender/ sexuality.

By the way your analogy about race problems is specious to say the least whether male female or any other gender. And a further by the way, Florida does not have common law marriage.

Regards,
Don

You are correct about the common law marriage. It was abolished earlier this year retroactively to 1968. I was unaware of the change.

You seem to be purposely ignoring the gay couple that have biological children. I know of several. True, they have only one biological parent that is a part of the marriage but that is hardly is unusual these days among straight families as I sited in my personal example.

Why call it something other than marriage? A marriage is exactly what it is.

Equality under the law is not enough. Ask any woman doing the same job as a man for 20% less. Legal equality is wonderful and it must come first but social equality is the real goal. It can never truly be achieved but so what. We should still strive for it.

My argument isn’t specious. Gay marriage is correctly percieved to be a civil rights issue by supporters. The black religious are caught in the crossfire between their beliefs and their recent history in deciding to support or oppose gay marriage. I don’t suppose Australia has that particular dynamic.

You are creating an artificial difference. Sometime in the near future, maybe 20 years, 2 women will have the ability to have their genes merged and fertilize an egg. The feasibility has already been demonstrated as an offshoot of cloning. 2 men may also eventually be able to do this although they will need a surrogate for gestatation and birth until science invents an artificial womb. In 50 years it will be commonplace. But the stigma of having a “marriage by another name” does not smell as sweet. I will tell you this. Gay marriage in the U.S. is happening now. It will continue to happen. It will be called marriage. It is a fait accompli and it is past time that it did happen.

By the way I am well aware of the irony of this position. If gay marriage were legal in my parents day I likely would never have been born. I can’t prove my father “strayed” with men but it is where the available evidence, such as his death from AIDS, takes me.

Scott,

I am not ignoring the fact that same sex couples have children but not children born of personal biological activity, a fact you recognise yourself. And no matter how much people would wish it, it cannot be otherwise. And while you might also think otherwise the fact remains that the majority of men and women in all societies think of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Let me point out also that social equality is a consewquence of legal equality. You’re wrong also if you think Australia is not subject to that black/white dynamic. Indeed some Australian are as unhappy about Aborigines and people of aother colours and ethnicity as some Americans and even more unhappy about miscegenation. As for your suggestion about genetic merging, this could win you the world kite flying championship.

Personally I am of the view that in the future people will be able to choose either physical coupling or IVF if they wish to have children. I feel sure that thsi will be done as a means of controlling and keeping the male female ratio balance. Indeed Arhur C. Clarke in his book ‘The City And The Stars’ seems to have opted for the latter. And Who am I to contradict him? By the way I also think people will be living on planets that have dedicated lifestyles of various kinds.

Last but not least while I have I have no doubt the number of same sex unions will rise, male/female unions will continue to predominate. Long may these unions continue.

As for your comment about the origin of your birth the only comment I make in return is that I never met your father has never and he was only ever part of a conversation in the eaerly sixties with your grandmother Allan.

Regards,
Don

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/1769356.stm
Here is my kite. You may hold the twine. I will symbolically bet you that my kite flies before your spaceship.

I don’t know how many aboriginies hold deeply conservative Christian views so perhaps you can enlighten me. That Australia has a black/white problem is no surprise at all. How much resemblence it bears to our problem I can’t say.

I assume you meant Personal Biological Activity between both people. As I have already refuted that arguments significance twice I will move on.

Gay marriage may be growing but homosexuals are not so straight marriage will remain dominant.

Nature maintains the male/female balance. It is people who unbalance it.

You are right that social equality flows from legal equality.
You are wrong that it flows from legal equivalency.

Among young people here, the people who will decide this issue long after old men like us are gone, even among many that identify as conservative, gay marriage is a non-issue. Unworthy of debate. They care not one whit if gays marry. They recognise that it has nothing to with them.

Scott,

Answers to statements presented.

1. I’ll keep flying my own kites some mof which have been flown with great success.

2. As Aboriginal education was usually left to churches – which are always conservative – many Aborigibnes are
are conservative. And nor is it a black/white problem: it applies to a wide people of people of difefrent
racial origin, in much the same way as it does in every other part of the world.

3. You said so, so clearly it must be right.

4. This statement lacks logic.

5. Also a less than a logical statement.

6. So tell me: where does it come from?

7. What you say may be the case among young Americans but your concluding remark does them a dis-service. In fact it
has everything to do with them.

Regards,
Don

Scott,

Yes, I know of the 2020 date and the 30/20, and 40/20 and never date. But I am happy with the projection that by 20/50 a plant will be operating. Of course, by that time huge areas of the environment are likey to be polluted and scarred by wind turbines and cast off solar panels simply because politicians lack the courgae to pour the same trillions of dollars into fusion development as they did and are still puting into fission development.

Regards,

Don

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