Rainy day woman on marriage

27 Aug

It’s raining cats and dogs and all my plans for Saturday centred around the outdoors. Thwarted, I turned to my computer and read this piece on the Watermelon Blog in which David reckons it’s time to make the billionaires pay the rent; and this piece on the Political Sword, in which Ad astra alleges that Tony Abbott is the worst opposition leader in our political history, and gives resoundingly convincing arguments to support the allegation.

Rainy days are good for musing and as I ventured out to give the dog an airing, I thought about marriage, and gay marriage in particular. I fully understand why people want to get married. Heck, I did it myself twice. I did it once in a church and once with a celebrant. It was nothing to do with the state, or religion, or societal expectations. It was everything to do with my heart. In retrospect the heart alone isn’t  the smartest organ from which to make such major decisions, but I didn’t know that until I’d done it twice.

In another of the triumphs of hope over experience with which my life is littered, I’d probably do it again if the circumstances ever arose.

People usually enter into a formal commitment to one another full of good will, desire and hope. It doesn’t always work out, and we pick ourselves up from the wreckage and start our lives over, often to do it all again. It’s a public expression of mutual love, and it’s valued by many as the ultimate such expression.

It seems to me there’s two arguments going on in the gay marriage debate. The first is that gays and lesbians ought to be entitled to the same public expressions of their love and commitment as are heterosexuals. This is a no brainer, IMO. Love is no respecter of genital arrangements. In a world that needs love as much as this one does, we should be celebrating it everywhere we find it. It seems extraordinarily mealy-mouthed and mean-spirited, not to mention ignorant, for any heterosexual to insist that it can’t count as marriageable love when it blossoms between same-sex couples.

The second is the interrogation of marriage itself. Like, marriage? What is it good for? Well, I could get cynical here and say not much. But in my experience that’s a conclusion everyone has to come to, or not, in their own good time and their own good way. The idea of marriage continues to exert a powerful emotional hold. No amount of rationalizing is going to change that in the near future. I know many couples who after years of living together decide to do the marriage thing, even though de facto arrangements are as legitimate. We are encultured to view marriage as the strongest commitment couples can make. This may change, but currently, it’s what we’ve got.

It seems unfair to expect that same-sex couples, rather than demanding inclusion in the culture ought to contest it, although there are voices in the gay and lesbian community raised against the institution, as there are in the heterosexual community. Nevertheless, I doubt that marriage is going to go away anytime soon. So it matters a great deal that same-sex couples have the right to celebrate their commitment just as heterosexuals do, if they so choose.

And that’s the real argument. It’s an argument about equal rights. Whether you think marriage is a necessary institution or not is largely irrelevant at this point. Currently there are couples who are denied access to marriage solely because of their sexual orientation This is discriminatory and breaches their human rights.

None of the arguments put forward by opponents of same-sex marriage stand up to scrutiny, and most are mired in superstition and religion. We have a Prime Minister who is beholden to neither superstition nor religion. So let’s move forward, Ms Gillard, unless of course the Australian Christian Lobby, those vocal opponents of same-sex marriage, have got you under their thumb.

Finally, my apologies for spelling Craig Thomson’s name wrongly in a previous post – I gave him a p when he shouldn’t have a p. He does not have a p! There is no p!! How can anyone believe anything I say if I stick p’s in where they don’t belong! Respect the p, Jennifer! Respect the goddamn p!!

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