Marriage, equality, and the sentimental

20 Apr


Gay wedding cake

Razer’s tweet caused me to reflect on sentimentality, what it is, and just how much it has to do with our society’s attachment to getting married. It seems to me that rainbows, and cakes such as the above, symbolise easily accessible emotions and contribute to a wider cultural inclination to substitute such emotions for critical thinking and reason. This isn’t peculiar to same-sex weddings: there seems to me to be a strong element of the sentimental in the very nature of weddings, no matter how “tasteful.” Which, of course, can be half the fun, but just how much does that aspect blind us to the faults of the institution?

“Sentimental” is in current usage a pejorative term, though it was not always thus. The sentimental is considered shallow, excessive, spurious, dishonest, false, and mawkish. It is emotion devoid of reason and critical judgement, indeed the sentimental stands accused of privileging diluted and short-lived emotional experience over logic to such a degree, that ethical and intellectual judgements that ought to be applied to a situation are abandoned in favour of the thrill of a temporarily heightened state.

In a sense, the sentimental has served to obfuscate the debate we have to have, which is about the institution of marriage itself, and redirected our attention and energies to the question of marriage equality. I don’t think anyone can deny the presence of the sentimental in this dispute, and perhaps the wonderfully excessive Maori wedding song sung by that joyous group in the New Zealand parliament the other day is an indicator of the rush of heightened emotion associated with all weddings, but especially so when those weddings have been forbidden and are now sanctioned. We don’t think about the failings of the institution, and how it functions in society, so carried away are we by the uncomplicated thrillingness of the romance of it.

I have to say here that as long as we have marriage in our culture and remain in its thrall, there is no question but that it ought to be available to everyone who desires it and is of an age to consent. Forbidding a group of people what they very much want to have  while it is freely available to everyone else, simply on the grounds that they have the same genitalia, is absolutely wrong, and counter productive. The marriage equality debate brilliantly demonstrates how we are distracted from arguing the deeper considerations of the ethics of the institution itself.

No one who wants to marry and is prevented by our laws from doing so, is going to want to start questioning the institution from which they are unfairly excluded, because the exclusion and the desire to be admitted will take precedence. I don’t believe we will be in any position to seriously challenge marriage until it is available to everyone, and the dust of the fight for equality has settled.

Rainbows, hearts, and plastic gay or heterosexual couples on excessive confectionery, can be read as symbols of the sentimental, signifying  a dominant aesthetic of sentimentality that obscures the deeper questions and feelings, and quite rightly thoroughly aggravates observers such as Razer who rail against our collective willingness to settle for the sentimental, and allow it to dull our judgement and reason. Judgement and reason ought to cause us to first think critically about this institution we are celebrating: sentimentality seduces us into settling for the heightened emotion that inevitably surrounds the desire of two people to commit themselves to lifelong state-sanctioned monogamy. Sentimentality is strongly present in that desire: the desire is, I would argue, not born of logic and reason, and it is perhaps not particularly ethical either, unless qualified as an intention, rather than a vow.

I recall a wedding a few years ago, non-religious, colourful and casual, pretty much your north coast upmarket hippy event, and a lot of fun. After the couple exchanged their vows, a friend standing next to me said in a voice that was much louder than she’d intended, owing to a sudden lull in the celebrations, “Well, it’s all down hill from here.” The bride and groom looked aghast. I dug her hard in the ribs with my elbow. “Well, it’s true,” she hissed at me defensively. “I know, but you don’t have to bloody well say it,” I hissed back.

All the weddings I’ve attended have been joyful, including both of my own. But there has been a great deal of sentimentality associated with them and more, with the idea of them. Personally I’m very taken with the love and hope that cause two people to throw their lot in together for life. I suppose that’s why I’ve done it twice and would probably do it again, because third time lucky and anyway I’m closer to death than I was the first two times.

The impulse to fidelity and mutual trust seems to me a worthy one, however I think I would add “To the best of my ability” or “I’ll do my very best” next time, because one never knows what’s ahead, and reason and logic suggest vows are sentimental in their very nature, and therefore untrustworthy.

Then there is the question of the regulation of the expression of emotion. It makes people very happy to marry one another at the time, and on the whole. It usually, one hopes, makes their friends and relations happy as well. Who has any right to deny others this happiness, even if the aesthetics and politics of it are not to one’s taste?

Yes, the institution may be a flawed foundation stone of a conservative agenda. Yes, conservatives love marriage because they love what they consider family. There is actually nothing in the least bit wrong with loving family, it is the traditional conservative notion of what a family consists of that is at fault here.

That the state has no business deciding who may or may not marry is a given. The fact that our Prime Minister does not approve of marriage equality ought to be of no consequence to anyone other than Ms Gillard herself. Nobody will make her marry another girl. It is remarkable to me that Ms Gillard, herself living in a de facto relationship, continues to take this obstructionist stand against marriage equality. Apparently marriage is not an institution she values for herself, yet she is perfectly willing to deny it to others on the spurious grounds that it is supposed to take place only between a man and a woman.

It is not so very long ago that Ms Gillard’s de facto relationship would have made her  occupation of the Lodge an impossibility. The Prime Minister has much to be grateful for. Society’s changes have worked to her great advantage. Why then, does Ms Gillard persist in denying these same advantages to others? I’m certain her stand has little or nothing to do with the sentimental.

rainbowA very sentimental rainbow but at least there is no unicorn

74 Responses to “Marriage, equality, and the sentimental”

  1. samjandwich April 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Yes I think I know what you mean…

    But then, when you’re that much in love, doesn’t marriage just make perfect sense, and who cares what anyone else thinks? Plunge headlong I say!


    • atomou April 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      No, I don’t thinks, sam. Not for everyone anyhow. There are lots of people I know, both here and in Greece(!) who have not “tied the knot even after decades living together and having brought up a whole coop of kids. It’s a traditional thing that has found its way into legislation because the churches wanted it and they wanted it only because the lords of the (Man)ors demanded it. Nothing to do with the simple emotion of joy that people may feel because they are close to those they love. Blah blahs have nothing to do with it.


  2. atomou April 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Splendid stuff, Jennifer!
    It is, (the objection) as you put it, not so much between a “man” and a “woman” but between two similar genitalia. The “difference” which french singers have extolled between the sexes has been shown to be more and more of genitals than anything else. At least in civilised and educated nations, with minds unpolluted by medieval customs and dogmatic religion. The difference, in other words is bugger all, so, even by the standards of the bloody-minded, dogmatic rednecks, what we get is marriage between two people with their genitals being the only point(s) of difference.

    You have reminded us of another good point as well: that the institution of marriage is nothing more than a sentimental remnant of olden days and, even if it is allowed, should at the very least, be examined and neutralised if necessary from its wider social effects, as has that of Gillard’s relationship. She can become a PM even though she’s not married. Good!

    And that, as we set off to examine marriage itself, we should set off to examine the rights of politicians and bureaucrats to tell us who may or may not be excluded from a right granted to everyone else.

    Marriage has been totally great for us and for everyone in my large extended family but I have met people who have wondered how they made such a stupid mistake; and I have taught their sons and daughters. Back in the days of inaccessible divorce, everyone suffered -women and children the worst!

    Muchos grassyi arse!


  3. Juliar Blowhard April 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Queers, pofters and lesbos, still all the same thing, degrading and disgusting creatures.


    • atomou April 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Nowhere near as disgusting as those whose nose is always in someone else’s genitals because they have none of their own.


    • hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      And yet they’re absolutely divine and gorgeous compared with homophobes!


  4. hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    I think we’re almost going to need the help of a linguist here. I can understand what I want to say about this but I don’t know how to express it in words without first explaining that sentiment can be attached to opinion as well as to a range of emotional responses from the refined to the excessively mawkish.

    At the moment many people feel quite motivated by the kind of sentiment we attach to our opinions about marriage equality in the sense that we value fairness and certain notions we have about an inalienable right to love the partner of your choice. This is I think what results in fairly strong levels of support for same sex marriage, and indeed for the symbolic act of using the same word for it that has long been used exclusively for heterosexual unions.

    I don’t know that nearly as many people are particularly thinking about same sex wedding ceremonies and all the sentimentality that attaches to them to quite the same degree. And if they are then I suspect that it is possibly those who’re opposed to marriage reform whose struggle is with their emotional sentiments in that regard. Sexual attraction and orientation are I things that are for most of us viscerally emotional and as such unimaginable in the absence of empathy for the happy couple. So it may emerge that it’s not just a matter of whether mawkish sentimentality applies here, but of whether absence of empathy manifests itself in the revulsion we witness among homophobes.

    It’s almost as if we can perhaps make the argument that this is the kind of issue that inflames passions in a favourable sense when we’re talking on a rational level about values and principles but since all the argument against it is seriously irrational then an emotional response, a different kind of sentiment, called homophobia emerges. And when I say that, I’m really not sure, and I hope I’m wrong, but it may take more time before a greater majority actually see the issue on an emotional level with positive rather than negative sentimentality.

    I hate that kind of argument personally because I think I’d prefer than rationality trumped emotion in debates such as these. But I also see, and have written often in the past, that a few fabulous gay weddings in the women’s mags are I think going to play up the emotional sentimentality angle in the (more or less) positive sense.

    Granted mawkish sentimentality of which Jennifer speaks is shallow and fleeting for most, but I do think that in terms of marriage there’s an institution that recognises the bonds between people are about more than just cohabitation, they establish kinship and they honour lasting commitment of one person to the other.

    Some of us may well say otherwise in our more cynical moments.

    Mae West most famously quipped – “Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution”

    And so I’ll leave you with Cold Chisel on the subject, but it doesn’t mean I actually believe them either. More proof perhaps that what we emotionally want for our own selves and perhaps our sense of stability has occasionally and probably always will contravene logic 🙂

    No copulation, no revolution
    Said the young Marquis de Sade
    But all the whips in France ain’t gonna get me
    Fuckin’ on a barricade
    From the schoolboys on it was one big con
    As we hung around the hockey teams
    In each boys brain the dream was the same
    All I ever went to do is get laid
    Now the whole wide world has a better idea
    And it shook us all to the core
    You follow some two-year fairy tale
    Into happy evermore
    The sleepy priest at the bridal feast
    His hands make a holy sign
    And as the bride hoes into the wedding cake
    She’s a-singin’ in the back of her mind
    Come on, come on
    I’m gonna roll ya all night long….


    • atomou April 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Indulge me on this, Jenn and Hudso, please.
      Hudso, you talk of today and of here. Let me take you back to another time and elsewhere:

      In Aristophanes’ “Birds” a couple of Athenians, Trusty and Dinkum, have left the city with their birds, looking to found another. Athens back then looked very much like Athens today, after the Eurozone debacle.
      They come across a bird called Bushcock who asks them what sort of city they’re after. In their answers you’ll see how sexual predilections was afforded no space in their mind.

      Well, what sort of a city are you after then?

      A city where the biggest things to worry about are of this sort: A man comes to my door, say, bright and early one morning and says to me, “By Zeus the Olympian, Trusty! I’m having a wedding feast tonight, marrying my beautiful young daughter off and I’d like to invite you over. Could you do me the honours of having a bath early this evening and coming over with your family? Do so, please or else, don’t bother coming to see me when things go downhill in my life!”

      Bushcock: Chuckles
      I can see you love the hard life. And you?

      Same sort of stuff.


      Meaning? Ahhhh! Let’s see! The father of a beautiful, young, absolute blossom of a boy meets me in the street and that father gets angry at me and says, “what a way to treat my son, you, you… cock polisher? What sort of friend are you? You saw my darling boy as he had just come out of the wrestling ring, all sparkling, all clean and ready for it and yet you went right past him. Not even a word! No kisses, no hugs, no fondling of his balls, nothing! What sort of a family friend are you!”


      • hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

        I’m not quite so sure that all the social mores of ancient Greece are replicated in modern Australia though I guess more than a few are.

        The exact choice of passage involving a father apparently offering his son (can we assume the young fellow is even of age) to a neighbour also lacks parallels where daughters are involved in modern society, so I’m probably struggling a bit spotting how you thought it was instructive to the whole gay marriage scenario.


        • atomou April 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

          The point of pointing you to that passage, Hudso, was to point out to you was simply put in my final sentence: “In their answers you’ll see how sexual predilections was afforded no space in their mind.”

          That sexual predilections alone have nothing to with how happy a family -or a child is- and that the segregation of sex into homo and hetero is a much later invention, most probably an Abrahamic one, in which religions, no one may do anything that gives anyone any pleasure!

          Hmmm, I just remembered me!

          In a past life, long now a mere shadow at the edges of my consciousness, I fell in love with an Italian lass of very struck, Catholic parents. Four brothers of her had served in monasteries. At the ripe old age of twenty, (she twenty two) we decided we wanted to get married. The families on both sides were very concerned, both, I suggest because both knew well my dictate for anything to do with religion. Anyhow, we went to see three priests for advice on marriage. All three preached to me (on one-to-one interviews) that I must not touch the lass in any “loving way” unless that touch led to her being pregnant. In other words, sex is for god!

          I don’t think I lasted a month after the last priest and, my feeling was that my departure from the scene was a great relief to all!

          As I think of this now, I wonder what those priests would say if I had entered their office wearing a mini skirt. (I didn’t because I look simply awful in one!)


          • hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

            You’re starting to make a lot of sense again. And it’s a relief 🙂

            I don’t think I would in my lifetime be able to get over the hetero versus homo erotic divide, but it is interesting to think how much nurture may be made to feel like nature. And I think instructive. I’ll give it a go and see what I come up with.


            • atomou April 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

              Shit, I better start leaving words out of my extrications henceforth then… (My turn to chop all the veggies, including peeling the onions for tomorrow’s post-dinner farts, so I’m hurrying!) 🙂


          • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

            atomou If you are seeking a publisher let me know. A poignant tale. It would make a great book. There are many priest-like figures and entities affecting youth in other guises now. Was it ever thus?


            • atomou April 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

              GG, I like the way you’re thinking! Isn’t everyone always searching for a publisher?


              • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

                lol Unfortunately I’m not a publisher but would back you with a lazy dollar and assist you in finding one. Once you get published, you can drag me in.


    • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      Well hg you sum up the debate better than I could on an individual, libertarian basis, and I agree with your views. The next argument is to the family unit, assuming one views this unit in it’s historical rigour as being functional. On this I am conflicted, as many present “heterosexual families” are dysfunctional and harmful to children, as it may have been ever. The argument is, would it be the same, better or worse with “same-sex families ” ?


      • atomou April 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        If I may, GG, the answer is, the same.
        Minds and hearts are not determined by genitals or by sexual predilections, so, left to their own devices, any of the possible permutations of marriage would bring about the same results.
        The people around them, however, as well as State laws that might prejudice one copulation over another, might render one of them “worse” since the difficulties the copulants and their children will have with those outsiders, like the homophobe above, might well impact on their marriage.

        Marital bliss comes about from the couples themselves; marital hell often comes from the busy bodies outside.


        • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

          At a first look I would tend to agree with you. but there is very little data. When I think of gay families I relate it to high functioning friends of mine, with assets and supports, who would strive to parent. The Penny’s of this world on $700,000 plus are different from Ms.and Ms. Shoppingtrolley in Ipswich Q. And there are more gays with lesser assets and savings than Penny, due to their high spending and low assets as confirmed by studies of the gay community. And no I cannot give you the sources for that, just from my reading. So I would be pleased if you could further enlighten me.


          • helvityni April 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

            Please, GG, leave Penny out of it, and do not be envious of her salary, she is an exceptional politician , intelligent hard working, civil, articulate…
            Attack someone from your own side, there are plenty of them there you to put your claws in, more deserving of your slander. Thank you.


            • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

              My apologies, see below Helvi, sorry if I upset you. See my reply to hg


          • atomou April 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

            Data means bugger all in such types of issues, GG.
            How does one measure happiness, qualify it and adjust it so as to make allowances for competent parents (whatever they are) for wealthy parents, for parents who ought not to be parents; for children with a whole host of possible challenges, for schools of all sorts of challenges, for IQs and for post codes. The permutations of life are endless and so to try and put some sort of computer modelling on it would be, as DQ loves saying, insane!

            My observation comes from having taught many thousands of children and having met their parents. The schools I taught encompassed all socioeconomic areas and marital combos you wouldn’t even imagine; as well as environments where the children were raised: from single parents to grandparents only, to ruthless dormitories, to jails, to military parents who never lived in one postcode for longer than six months, to single gay parents, single hetero parents, abusing parents, loving parents; of many siblings, of single child families. Far too many variations and you would want to put money on what child would grow up how.
            Kids from gay or lesbian parents presented with the same problems and achievements as all the other children.

            A number of colleagues were, in fact shocked to find their prejudices toppled completely. They have often talked about them walking in a class and paying particular attention to kids who were “different” in some way, thinking that they’d need to be especially attentive towards them, only to find out quite quickly that they were utterly wrong and that each student had his or her own charm and/or lack of…

            Nope, wouldn’t trust academic data of any sort that purports to measure happiness or any other emotion or state of mental being.


            • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

              atomou, your thoughts reflect mine, as does your experience. There is no data in effect and the dysfunction in families in fact is cross sexual, if I may use that word, as many family conflicts are precipitated by, begin, affected by, affect, endure or end in a sexual orientation evaluation and finalisation.


      • hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

        Well if we’re rethinking things anyway the family unit, since it so rarely seems to live up to the ideal that religious ideologues and American cinema ascribe to it, might indeed be a good place to start. There was a time when it came to child rearing that the saying “it takes a village” meant more than it would today.

        Every time gay marriage is even mentioned some of these issues are raised as if to represent the thin edge of the wedge tipping us onto a slippery slope. I’m not buying that. We change incrementally and use each opportunity to modify and hopefully improve our situation and to me it seems appropriate not to doubt that same sex marriage is coming, to everywhere but a church near you, and when it does families with two mums and two dads will form little villages that are smaller than they probably ought to be just like other nuclear families are.


        • Garpal Gumnut April 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

          I am totally in agreement hg, and I apologise Helvi if my quoting of a high profile example upset you. Totally apologise, I used her as a current example of a high earning gay family, and I will not mention her as an example again. The little village hg is a good example of how it may work out. We live in an over-connected world, and perhaps a return to basics may be the way to look at this.


  5. Ray April 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    It’s all a plot by the marriage industry to increase their profits. I’m waiting for wedding magazines for gays 🙂 Reminds about the travails of a co-worker, his fiancee is going for the whole princess/fairy tale thing and asked him if he preferred white or ivory for the wedding dress. Is that even a question? Truth is he couldn’t give a rats. But that’s what you do. You get married, get a mortgage, get kids, get more debt and consume, consume, consume. Of course it’s a sentimental con that has nothing to do with real connection.

    But for me the issue isn’t the sentimentality – that’s a given – it’s about equality. There is no reason why the same-sex attracted shouldn’t be free to fall for the con. Sentimentality for all I say.


  6. doug quixote April 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Rather different issues conflated here, are they not?

    One issue is that of equality before the law and before society.

    It is a question of status and of rights.

    The other issue is whether marriage itself is a relevant or useful institution in the world of the 21st century.

    It may well be that the 1% of married couples who would be same-sex (do the math – if 10% of people are homosexual 10×10 divided by 100×100 = 1%) will decide at the same rate as heterosexual couples that marriage is not all that wonderful.

    And sentimental is ok in its place.

    Give those who wish to marry the right to do so. As long as they don’t want to blame us for the results! 🙂


  7. hudsongodfrey April 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    On the NZ angle, the final announcement of the vote and that spontaneous(?) outburst of song were depending on how you look at it, either funny or inspiring, but I think this guy was the main event 🙂


  8. doug quixote April 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    The French Parliament are getting to grips with the issue : a brawl broke out, several rightists rather upset with the likely result, one supposes – before they approved the Bill allowing same-sex marriage, but approve it they did.


  9. redjos April 21, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    I was in a heterosexual marriage for 31 years. I am now in a same-sex relationship and we had our 20th anniversary 3 days ago.

    We do not believe in marriage and have no desire to commit such folly. Marriage is a mid-to-late 19th century capitalist construct – supported by religions.

    We support same-sex marriage for one reason only. We demand equality and equal legal rights to everything that comes with those sorts of relationships.

    Marriage is fine for those who want it. Why load yourself with more bureaucratic restrictions than those already imposed on you by governments and their legislation?

    All we want is to ensure that the law allows us equality in hospitals, nursing homes, home care and related institutional organisations, property settlements and non-interference from families eager to get their grubby paws on money and other things to which they should not be entitled under equality in law.


    • hudsongodfrey April 21, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Congratulations Mannie on your anniversary. It would seem remiss of at least one of us not to offer them 🙂

      Are you saying in effect that you don’t mind if it is called a civil union as long as your rights are respected? Is that not already available, and I’m wondering , because the claim is made that civil unions are equivalent to marriages, whether it is thought that more and better recognition of something called a civil union would serve to break down the existing social stigma that many places have against same sex couples.

      I’m thinking here particularly in the context you’ve mentioned re: aged care and hospital facilities. From your perspective I feel it may be churlish of the rest of us to wait until the difference between “civil union” and “marriage” more or less dissolves in the minds of others. And I suppose an older generation are more resistant at times to these changing social mores.

      On the other hand using the words “civil union” seems to me to be a delaying tactic that corals legal recognition from social acceptance in a way that many, particularly in younger generations have just cause to take issue with.

      Your thoughts?


      Another thing that came up in more or less idle conversation about the parlous state of politics with a friend was that he happens to work for one of the aged care providers (with no religious affiliations) and was surprised to find that among the residents where there were gay couples in their community (both male couples and females) that levels of acceptance were pretty high. So reading between the lines it is apparent that the bother mainly occurs where religious institutions managing the facilities are the ones who are homophobic.


      • red-jos April 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

        Thank you very much for your kind wishes. Considering one of us is 90 and the other is 86, we would not have thought it possible to survive that long as a couple!

        As for thoughts on civil unions, whatever they are, it is not the form of the contract that matters, it is the substance. If marriage and civil unions provided the same legal safeguards and equalities, it wouldn’t matter which one chose, so the answer to it all is – that which provides us with equality – equal human rights – is what we require, nothing less.

        It should be pointed out that in 2008 the Rudd government advised us that about 85 pieces of legislation would be amended, giving the LGTH communities “equality”!

        What did that mean?

        When we started to analyse the legislation we discovered that, starting on 1 July 2009, those of us who were “partnered” for want of a more appropriate term, and were age pensioners were to be “outed” as de facto couples and, as for heteros, we were to be put on couple pensions as distinct from single pensions.

        We ran a campaign to get the government to “grandfather this piece of legislation and they refused. What this meant for us was an immediate drop of about $200 a fortnight.

        In our case this did not matter as much as it might have, because we own our house and don’t have a mortgage to pay off, but many pensioners rent their places of residence, and this loss was of great importance to them.

        The government thus “married” us whether we wanted it or not, and some of the people we know, who are partnered, one of whom is working and one of whom is an age pensioner, lost money.

        We have neither forgiven nor forgotten – our fight was not just for the GLTH communities but for the community at large, because it is an anacronism in 2013 – or 2009 when we were campaigning – that men and women who live together, either as married, de facto or whatever sort of relationship – should still be paid pensions as a married couple.

        Is this equality for men and women? We don’t think so!

        Mannie De Saxe


        • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

          Well Mannie,
          It is an honour that our community has two quality people, who have reached your age in life, and yet continue to unselfishly campaign and remain proactive in making the future better for others.This is the kind of grass roots principle based behaviour which gives us all hope.And motivates those who follow.
          Simultaneously it highlights the duplicity and irrelevancy of the opportunists ( and supporters of them) who suck dry the political teat of our parliament.
          Kudos and goodwill to you both.

          Or, ‘good on yamate’, as we used to say.


          • atomou April 21, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

            Total and absolute ditto from me too, Marnie! Moved enormously by your story. How starkly you two stand different to those mendacious politicians in all the parliaments of this country! How you could teach them about justice and equality for all, about human rights, about reason! ‘onya mates!


          • red-jos April 22, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

            Many thanks to you all for your support. It is encouraging to know that there are people out there who think what we do is helpful – and useful.

            At the moment Ken is busy working on a submission to the federal government about intersex and the way society handles people in that category, and he has done many submissions over the years to show governments that there are individuals and groups busy working for change and equality.

            I work on maintaining our web pages and blog:




            Hope to be around for quite a while yet!

            Mannie De Saxe


            • Hypocritophobe April 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

              Isn’t it ‘funny’ how some people see the ‘levelling of playing fields’ as being some form of theft from the status quo.
              And that the ‘defenders’ of that status quo are all to quick to condemn, but averse to the concept of trading shoes, let alone heading out for a one mile trial in said shoes.


        • hudsongodfrey April 22, 2013 at 12:47 am #

          Point well made that we’re all equal when it comes to governments taking money away while some are less equal than others when it comes to handing it out.


  10. Gruffbutt April 21, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    Hola, Jennifer.

    I’ve been torn between lazy sentimentality and constructive critical thinking all my life, and ended up in neither camp. Unfortunately, you can’t go back to the conservatives once you’ve realised the edifice their whole church is built upon.

    But I want to be intellectually lazy.

    Where’s my unicorn?


    • doug quixote April 21, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      You can’t have mine. 🙂


    • atomou April 21, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Mine, along with everything else that comprises me, belongs to Mrs Ato! You gotta ask her if you can have it… if you’re brave enough!

      Alas, too late for us. Another era altogether but we’ve been through this debate often and everyone in the family now suggests that if our wedding were to take place now, we’d just have a little BBQ and say “g’day love, wanna live with me and maybe have kids with me… no? You’d rather I live with you and maybe have kids with you? Done! Ladies and gents, you heard the lady, we’re gonna live together and maybe have kids. Sign on my plaster cast!” (I’d have a plaster cast either on my arm or my legs because I’d have one of them broken if as much as i thought other thoughts and my thoughts are often misread by others).

      That was back then and with us there was yet another imperative: my grandfather was a priest and so, at least 50% of his horde of kids were religious. Dad, mum and I weren’t but, to please the old guy, we’d still have the wedding, even if it were held today. Mrs Ato’s parents and siblings (also great in number) couldn’t give a stuff.

      And that’s the problem, too. Many who are not at all religious -in fact, if they’re like me, despise religion- are too chained to its traditions via relos, and so, they go and approach religious institutions.
      Others just want pretty pictures and videos.


      • Gruffbutt April 21, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        Yeah, I despise religion, but I don’t think I’ll bring that up with the family I’m staying with in Latin America at the mo.

        Some battles aren’t worth it. I’ll just move along and admire the pretty buildings erected in tourism’s honour.


        • atomou April 22, 2013 at 8:43 am #

          Quite so, Gruffy; but it depends on the enemy. If it’s mates and little people no. If it’s politicians, however and members of the clergy, one must go all guns blazing. Get rid of the stinking head and you’ll eventually rid of the decaying carcase. One must choose one’s battles and fight those that will be effective; and “effective” battles in this area are most illusive, if not totally fantastical!
          There’s no way one can wage wars with the billions of little people who pray day in day out, who donate their last cent to these most corrupt institutions, who build little and big temples all over the planet, who are made terrified with “it’s either god’s way or the devil’s”, who are given the opportunity to wear lovely church clothes and lacey mantillas, to watch fantasmagorical mystery theatres at least once a week and a whole lot more on religious festivals…
          Can we get to the Popes and the arch rabbis and the Arch immams and mullahs and arch buddhists? Can we at least stop feeding them with our taxes?
          Give those throne-warming butts a kick and we’ll be getting closer to the enlightenment that freedom affords!


          • Gruffbutt April 22, 2013 at 9:30 am #

            Exactly. I often think of that scene in The Mosquito Coast where the locals are no longer attended to by the interfering god-pusher and are left to watch a video of the arrogant supposedly caring tool instead.


    • hudsongodfrey April 21, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      I’ve got a pony. You can tape a bog roll to it’s forehead and ride off into the sunset if you like 🙂


      • Gruffbutt April 21, 2013 at 11:44 am #



        • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 11:52 am #

          Only virgins can see unicorns.

          So the pony and dunny roll thing is quite popular.
          A parsnip is a better option for ponies with short tongues.


          • atomou April 21, 2013 at 11:55 am #

            You have a dirty mind, Hypo!


            • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

              No way!
              The virgin thing is as true as Gospel! Spotting a unicorn has a limited window of opportunity.
              And you could use a carrot,but if your pony is black or white, it won’t blend in.
              But I like your way of thinking, Ato. And if that or my tip has helped to deliver pleasure, well that’s tickety-boo.

              The Irish Rovers have a completely different take on the origins and demise of the Unicorn.


          • doug quixote April 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

            Whoever told you that? Rocinante is deeply disturbed by your comments, and he is concerned that people might not be able to see him. But it’s not true : see the fact sheet (!)


            Not entirely correct, but he is rather randy at times. 🙂


            • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

              Apparently can only be TAMED by virgins.


              “In one of his notebooks Leonardo da Vinci wrote:

              The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.[21]”


              Personally I believe the only good corn is an organic corn


              • atomou April 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

                Bullshit! You don’t even like corn. Horn, maybe but corn? You prefer parsnips; anything with an arse in it! I know you, hypoarse! Full of genital subterfuge!


                • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

                  Pretty rich getting a lecture about ‘arse’ from a Greek.


                  • atomou April 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

                    Best you get it from them than from anyone else. They KNOW all about them. The rest of the world ARE them!


                    • Hypocritophobe April 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

                      I must be Greek,too.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 22, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Hola Gruffbutt and everyone else, sorry have been felled by migraine for couple of days and now recovering from after effects of delicious drugs. Talk soon.


      • Gruffbutt April 22, 2013 at 9:25 am #

        Ouch. I know that feeling. I quite like an aspirin-codeine mix myself. Get well soon.


  11. 8 Degrees of Latitude April 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Love your suggested reworking of the vows for a putative third run round the mulberry bush Jennifer. It seems to me that trust is more important than the visible signs of its existence, such as, for example, sexual fidelity. Surely trust is by mutual agreement, a compact between – in the context of a relationship – two people rather than something mandatory? What the boundaries of that trust are, and what elements of behaviour they engage, seems to me to be something for the parties to the trust to decide. I think the sexual fidelity thing is suspect (I’m not suggesting everyone should have flings: that too is an elective in the human curriculum, and a longer-term affair would normally indicate something substantial is amiss in the relationship) because at root – Aussie pun intended – it relies on the presence of proprietary interest in your partner. I would define that as servitude and oppose it utterly.

    Marriage in most societies is a civil union anointed by the locally preferred deity. In fact it is a measure designed to (properly) regulate society and is supported by law and legislation. Absent the religious aspect, its form and substance is in fact indistinguishable from a civil union. A way forward may be to eliminate the religious aspect of the union except by “add-on choice” for those who wish to have their arrangements blessed by the god of their choice.


    • hudsongodfrey April 22, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      In reference to your last paragraph I think we’ve already done what you suggested in eliminating any necessity for a religious aspect to the union between heterosexual couples, when we instituted civil marriages and divorces.

      We can argue by going back further in history or looking harder at the interests of modern governments in so doing that this is not completely accurate. However, within the limited context of recent social history I think the argument holds that this did break an established religious monopoly on matrimony, and did so in a way that caused fewer people any difficulty in taking the same word “marriage” for the civil ceremony and institution.

      So what has emerged in this debate now has been a none too subtle and highly politicised reclamation of the word marriage by religious traditionalists and homophobes. And I think part of the actual debate does get lost in this quagmire of fractious social attitudes wherein progressives and atheists are as keen on gay marriage for their own reasons. After all it supports principles that we hold dear like egalitarianism and human rights, and it’s a decent and kind thing to do by our gay friends, acquaintances or even family members. Moreover we’re keen on doing not just the right thing, but something that rebukes clotted religion for hijacking the issue in a way seen rightly by many as quite regressive and disingenuous.


  12. paul walter April 24, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Reminds me of the Keating classic that marriage is about “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and more complex than “two blokes and a cocker spaniel”.
    Abbott of course recalled this comment, as exemplary of Keating’s “brutality” which amazes me more even than the Keating comment, which at least originated out of a bygone era.
    Gee, there ought to be a thousand issues more critical for Australians with conscience than this hoary old stuff about same sex marriage, at worst imho, another victimless crime.
    Worry about the starving masses and the wars and torture and real injustices, if these ever get sorted then we can get to debating this, if we are not so exhausted that we can’t be bothered nitpicking.
    People ought to do some thing constructive; get out of other’s bedrooms and find real issues to solve, including ones relating to themselves, enough of them surely- not waste time at “controlly” bullying of others and gossiping over their choice of partners.


    • Hypocritophobe April 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      ‘The’ issue “IS” P O P U L A T I O N

      Everything else is window dressing


      • atomou April 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        We can have two issues running simultaneously, Hypo: Watch our population AND allow gays to do what the heteros are doing. In fact, one is quite tempted to say, “do number one and number two will, ipso fuckto, follow.”

        As for pauly waffler above, if you don’t think gays deserve to live, then say so. Don’t hide behind the slimy-slippery excuse of “we’ve got more important things to worry about… like famine, global warming, global capitalist collapse and your dick is shrivelling from lack of exercise.”
        What does it take to sign a bit of paper? Other than the bare minimum of honesty and of sticking to the basic principles of human rights for all? ALP? LNP? One Nation? Show me the difference when it comes to doing something of moral value!


        • doug quixote April 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

          I think you mis-read Paul Walter’s post. For mine, he is saying that this issue should not be an issue at all, that same-sex marriage is a no-brainer to be passed. As it should be.

          But there really are more important issues!


          • atomou April 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

            No, I’ve read him quite correctly, DQ.
            He is suggesting that we should postpone the debate on equal rights in marriage until every other problem in the universe has been debated, shouted about by the shock jock retards and homophobes, the religious retards and pedophiles, pondered about by journos, gone through committees, white papers written, legislations drafted, read in Parliament, rejected in the Senate, redrafted…

            No, I think I’ve read him correctly. He’s playing a very old and sleazy trick: Postpone until the enemy is exhausted.


            • paul walter April 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

              No. What I’ve suggested is that mass media concocts divisive faux dichotomy issues and events to cover up or exclude more serious events and issues elsewhere.
              When you finally allow your personal animus toward me to dissipate and instead focus on what I am saying, you will stop making an utter fool of yourself, with your clumsy non-stop misrepresentations and ad hominems toward me and what I’m saying.


          • paul walter April 25, 2013 at 2:17 am #

            Thank you Doug.
            You think we should have nothing better to with our time than harass gay people, Atomou?


            • atomou April 25, 2013 at 3:16 am #

              Paul Walter, the speaker in mysterious cows tongues!

              Who’s harassing whom, bovine Paul?

              The gays have had enough of persecution and prejudice by homophobic morons and are now telling the scum bags in the parliament of this country, to bugger off out of their bedroom.
              I support their efforts to gain full equality with the rest of the population and to gain it immediately. It takes no time at all to get there. It takes only the changing of the minds of the two shit-for-brains at the head of our two major parties.

              So, tell me again, Paul the mystery tongue, who’s harassing whom, and how?


              • doug quixote April 25, 2013 at 7:40 am #

                It goes deeper than that, atomou. There are still many in parliament who adhere to the old standards, as espoused by Howard and his disciples. The most recent vote in parliament was 98 to 42 against. Even given that the Coalition all voted against, that leaves about 30 Labor members against it at that time.

                Attitudes are changing, and they should reconsider especially after NZ and now France have moved to allow same sex marriage.

                It is only a matter of time. Keep agitating.


                • atomou April 25, 2013 at 9:27 am #

                  Now you’re getting as empuzzling as Paul the cow’s tongue above, DG!
                  One minute you’re telling me he’s right and the next I am right!
                  I know exactly what’s going on in our parliament of nincompoops and desperadoes. The two leaders, should get with the program, ditch their religious tea party mean turds and simply tell their members to vote for equality; and if they don’t, tell the masses who’s doing what, so that these shits will have to account for their medieval ways openly, to the public. Our press should also pursue and persecute the shits, the way only our press knows how!
                  If NZ is able to get past this idiocy and 13 other countries, including France, then so can Australia.


                  • paul walter April 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

                    Better cow than cow sh-t.


                    • atomou April 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

                      No, cow’s tongue speaks incoherently, thus more dangerous, if it’s how you speak. Cow shit is a most useful contribution to the planet’s hygiene and nourishment.

                      Now, DO go back to your original post and show me where you said the above.
                      From your first sentence to your last, the passage reeks of homophobia.
                      Me, feeling animosity towards you? How could I I don’t know you from cow shit. But I DO feel animosity towards some of your views and certainly about this view you hold about gays and their pursuit of equal treatment.


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