Marriage Equality – Simply A Personal Choice Or A Societal Responsibility?

As I sit here at almost 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, I ponder our governments lack of wisdom in calling a postal vote to decide on the important issue of marriage equality. And when I say decide, I do so lightly. The Australian people have been asked to vote by voluntary ballet on an issue critical to our sense of who we are as a nation. And a number of politicians admit that, if they don’t like the way the vote goes – i.e. if the Australian people say ‘well, it’s about time we changed our laws!’ – they won’t acknowledge the vote result.

This brings me to wondering why? And why more broadly than just in our politicians.

There are very few people I speak to who will or have voted no to allowing same sex couples to marry. Thank goodness! So why couldn’t we save the time, financial and potential emotional costs and simply have our elected officials change the law in parliament? GREAT question!

Well, I won’t spend too much time on Malcolm Turnbull trying to keep the right happy and his two-faced bottom firmly on the prime ministers chair. More, I want to understand why anyone would choose to deny two loving and consenting adults the beauty and joy of a socially acknowledged ceremony?

Argument One:

It’s our word. Really? Yes, I’ve heard this said before by older heterosexual people.

– “any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities”

Well that’s not so scary. And words do change their meanings over time, history shows. I would prefer a change to show compassion and empathy.

Argument Two:

I’m a Christian (or other religious ideology).

When I was of primary and high school age, we were taught about the bible and its supposed meanings. Love thy neighbour, in its shortened form, seemed to be a leading philosophy. To me, the term neighbour extends to humanity (and all creatures, but that’s another article for a different day). It says I should consider others as I would myself, and to extend understanding, empathy, love and compassion to all. Yet to ask me to then turn around and withhold from another person the love, truth and celebration of becoming married to another? That is not love; that is judgement and ego.

If God made us all and we are all in God’s image, how can one form of sexuality be bad and another good? And if you don’t think this is the argument, I would argue it is. You are saying that you believe someone who is not heterosexual should have less rights than you. Literally. That’s like saying someone with blonde hair should have less rights than a brunette. Sexuality just is.

I believe what the bible tells me is the truth and this is how I choose to live. I’ve asked about this, and not received a direct quote against homosexuality. But you know, even if there is one in there somewhere, how well do these quotes sit in your heart and your head?

1 Samuel 15:3: “This is what the Lord Almighty says … ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’

1 Timothy [2:12], in which the saint says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”

Psalm 137, which celebrates this terrible revenge: “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

When I’ve raised these quotes in query I’ve been told they are good points, but that essentially the believer picks and chooses… and they don’t choose these. In the conflict of ‘thou shalt not murder’ and the above in the same book, no contradiction is seen.

Very odd.

In a stance of loving kindness that all religions state is a central doctrine, why not choose compassion in, at times, contradictory texts?

Argument Three:

Marriage is a religious sacrament.

Related to the above, I understand that for some people this is wholly true. However, our society does not consider a marriage conducted in a garden by a celebrant for two atheists any less than a wedding in a church between a religious couple.

Argument Four:

Marriage is for procreation.

There are many people who do not wish to have children, and those who, for whatever reason, are unable, who are able to marry. And there are homosexual couples that raise children who are not able to make their vows.

Argument Five:

I attended a seminar many years ago, and the presenter said ‘If it’s not educational, motivational or inspirational, I don’t watch it’. I’ve always liked this approach. You need to choose what you allow into your mind because, as neuroplasticity shows, what we ingrain in our brain repetitively is what sets to our default position. But I’m getting off track and thinking about the harm that TV can do to our minds, our psychology and our community…

As a rule, I don’t watch commercial TV. Saying that, I caught part of an It’s Ok To Say No television advert. They showed an actress Mum emotionally saying something similar to the school said my son can wear a dress to school. Let me try not to get on a rant…

Firstly, schools and parents communicate these days and something as unusual as this, and the fact that it would be the parents paying for the uniform, would bring this issue up promptly.

Secondly, there is a difference between homosexuality and gender identity.

Thirdly, think about it. If your son wants to wear something other in the face of the teasing, at minimum, they know they will receive, at an age where most young people just want to blend in and be accepted, they need your love, compassion and support. Not a freaked out parents and judgement.

I could go on, but it’s pretty simple to me.

I believe that we ought to show compassion and empathy to others, and that how we view and treat those we consider different to us is a reflection of, and input to, our society. Saying that, I also know that sexuality is not different to hair colour or height. It is not something to be judged, it just is. And over time, for some people, sexuality is fluid.

Check out this article on The Changing Sexuality of Women In Later Life if you’re interested.

I feel this is another effort at creating barriers from nothing and the less than effect that humans seem so good at. You know, the old I’m better than you, you’re less than me bull we seem enamoured with? Look back over history and we rightly cringe at many of the societally accepted norms of the time… Women were chattel, owning slaves was ok, First Australians weren’t allowed to vote, people of mixed races – whatever that means – could not fall in love lest murderous recompense… I needn’t go on.

If we wish to enhance our society and encourage our sense of love and connection, and if we want to just do the right thing, we need to embrace love. Period.

Anyway, that’s what I believe.

Dr Rebecca Harwin
Chiropractor & Author

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