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Brendan O'Neill: defending the nanny state in the name of freedom

By Rodney Croome - posted Monday, 5 May 2014

One of the strongest arguments for allowing same-sex couples to marry is personal freedom.

The state has no right telling me, you or anyone else who we can and can't marry.

When the government effectively says the world would be better off if I married a woman, instead of the man whose selfless love has carried me through the best part of the last decade, it is nannying on steroids.


Perhaps that's why British columnist and editor, Brendan O'Neill, is so strident on the subject.

He is a libertarian and an opponent of freedom to marry.

The desire to trivialise and divert attention from the compelling freedom-based case in favour of reform may be what has driven him to concoct a freedom-based case against.

O'Neill argues that the recent campaign against former Mozilla boss, Brendan Eich, for donating to anti-marriage equality groups was not an isolated incident but reflects authoritarianism at the heart of the freedom-to-marry movement.

Barely concealed below rhetoric about tolerance is a ruthless desire by western political elites to undermine marriage and reshape society by allowing same-sex couples to walk down the aisle.

It starts with "Orwellian" manoeuvres like changing "husband" and "wife" to "partner", progresses through court cases against businesses that don't want to bake gay wedding cakes and ends with social ostracism, and even the police, silencing all dissent.


This kind of fear mongering is most often heard from conservative religious leaders, not libertarians.

But O'Neill mimics their tactic well, misconstruing a few isolated examples while ignoring a host of contrary evidence, and then drawing apocalyptic conclusions.

He laments that marriage equality opponents have been called "hateful" and had their websites hacked, which is of course wrong, but it's no worse than pro-equality advocates being demonised as Nazis, receiving death threats or losing their jobs.

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About the Author

Rodney Croome is a spokesperson for Equality Tasmania and national advocacy group, just.equal. He who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for his LGBTI advocacy.

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