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Union of sameness versus union of difference

By David Palmer - posted Wednesday, 8 February 2012


If a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald is to be believed, the intensive lobbying of coalition MPs over the Summer months by same-sex marriage advocates has failed to secure their support for a conscience vote on the issue.

According to this report,

...the gay marriage debate in Parliament will be pushed back to later in the year to give advocates for change more time to garner enough support to have legislation for same-sex marriage passed.

Instead of the debate being held immediately - which would have seen the bill defeated - the gay marriage campaign has changed focus to increase pressure on Tony Abbott to change his mind and allow opposition MPs a conscience vote.

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There are several things worth saying about this matter.

The first is that August 24 last year Adam Bandt and the homosexual lobby scored a spectacular own goal over the issue of just how well supported same-sex marriage is in the Australian community last year.

At the end of 2010, Parliament approved a motion proposed by Bandt calling on all parliamentarians, "consistent with their duties as representatives, to gauge their constituents' views on ways to achieve equal treatment for same-sex couples including marriage".

Well what happened on August 24, 2011?

When thirty members of Parliament stood to give an account of their constituents views on same-sex marriage, it was discovered opinion in Coalition and Labor seats was overwhelmingly against legalising same-sex marriage, with only 6 out of 30 MP's indicating their members were in favour of change. Most of the numbers being reported were very lopsidedly against same-sex marriage. Especially striking was the failure of the progressive left organisation, Get Up!, which likes to describe itself as a movement of almost 600,000 members, to get its members to sign their petition in favour of same-sex marriage. In fact on the morning that MPs were reporting their findings it was found that the Get Up! numbers had been trumped by the Australian Christian Lobby numbers – less than 10% of Get Up members had signed the petition. Next day, Matt Akersten on the gay and lesbian lifestyle website, samesame, wrote "We're not going to sugarcoat this – yesterday's MP feedback session in Parliament on the gay marriage issue was a tough setback for marriage equality".

Given the far reaching nature of a decision to extend in law marriage to same-sex couples, a reasonable question to ask is, "what principled reason has been advanced for such a change in the law of marriage?"

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We get arguments like, "it's time" or "my homosexual daughter (or son) wants to marry her (or his) partner" or "they can do it in Massachusetts or Holland or Spain, why not here?".

But what's the principle? What is the rational, logical argument that carries sufficient weight for such a significant change in the law of marriage?

Last year former NSW premier Nick Greiner reportedly said, ''(s)elf-evidently (it is) a matter of natural justice".

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About the Author

David Palmer is a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

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All articles by David Palmer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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