Why gays/lesbians should not marry
23rd December 2011

In the following, and on the ABC the Drum, I argue that marriage should only be between a man and a women.

Dennis Altman, in a comment piece for yesterday's The Age in response to the ALP conference's decision on gay marriage writes:

"The campaign for marriage equality, largely run by younger women and men, not all of them gay, is one of the most successful examples of effective lobbying in Australia over the past few decades."

Altman is correct. The questions social conservatives need to ask, though, are why has the cultural-left been so successful in shaping the public debate and why have we reached a stage where many expect that the Australian Parliament, in the near future, will radically redefine the definition of marriage?

One of the key strategies used by the left in the culture wars is to take a medium to long-term view and to embark on what the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci describes as the long march through the institutions. Beginning in the late '60s and early '70s, institutions like schools and universities, churches, government bureaucracies, political organisations and media outlets were targeted as key sites in the battle of ideology and ideas.

One only needs to look at universities, in Australia and the US, where the majority of academics describe themselves as left-of-centre and most journalists and reporters are happy to espouse politically correct causes to realise how successful the left has been.

A second strategy employed by the cultural-left is to define once-accepted practices and ideas as obsolete, socially unjust, inequitable and ripe for change.
Radical feminists argue that traditional forms of marriage institutionalise rape, education is defined as an instrument used by the ruling class to exploit and marginalise the dispossessed, Christianity is described as irrational and based on superstition and Western civilisation is attacked for being exploitive, eurocentric and elitist.
As noted by George Orwell, language is a powerful weapon in the battle of ideas and it is here that the cultural-left has also been successful. Whereas the ability to discriminate was once considered a worthy attribute, to be guilty of discrimination is now a crime. To be conservative, on the basis that there are some things from the past that are worthwhile holding on to, is to be old-fashioned, out of touch and guilty of continuing past injustices.

Those critical of feminism are labelled as misogynist, those who view gay/lesbian practices as unacceptable are condemned as homophobic and anyone championing the traditional form of marriage based on heterosexuality is guilty of discrimination and failing to respect the rights of others. It's no accident that homosexuals and lesbians have co-opted the word gay to describe what many consider an unnatural lifestyle.

Gender politics provides a compelling example of how the cultural-left has managed to win the culture wars and radically redefine once accepted practices and social mores. In relation to gays and lesbians, even though one Australian survey suggested that only 1.6 per cent of men and 0.8 per cent of women identify as gay/lesbian, activists have been successful in presenting such relationships as increasingly widespread and normal.

Since the late '80s and early '90s groups like the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Australian Association for the Teachers of English (AATE) have ensured that the nation's classroom and the school curriculum enforce a cultural-left view of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) issues.

The AEU's policy is that lessons about GLBT life-styles and issues must be "positive in its approach" and that the "sexual orientation and/or gender-preferred identity of individual teachers should not be a factor in determining which teachers are able to teach sex, health or human biology education".

At AATE conferences and in journals over the years English teachers have been told that they should help children recognise the "various ways in which gender categories are tied to an oppressive binary structure for organising the social and cultural practices of adolescent boys and girls", use the classroom to explore "alternative versions of masculinity" and "recognise that gender is a social construction organised upon unequal power relations which define and limit opportunities".

Such has been the cultural-left's success in relation to gender issues that the so-called Melbourne Declaration, the blue print for Australian school education, argues that all school sectors, faith based, independent and government, must provide an education free of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

A strict interpretation of the Melbourne Declaration is that religious schools will lose the freedom they currently have to discriminate in relation to who they enrol and who they employ. One also expects that the proposed national curriculum, in areas like health, will enforce a positive view of GLBT issues.

Currently, school programs like Victoria's 'Supporting Sexual Diversity in Schools' and the NSW 'Proud Schools' are being funded to fight against homophobia and transphobia on the basis that children must be taught to celebrate diversity and difference and that all forms of sexual identity must be equally valued.

To return to last weekend's ALP conference. The battle over the meaning of the word marriage provides a good example of Orwell's belief that how we use language defines who and what we are and the type of society we live in. The Shorter Oxford dictionary defines marriage as firstly, "The relation between married persons; wedlock" and, secondly, "The action, or an act, of marrying; the ceremony by which two persons are made husband and wife".

Even though it is increasingly common for homosexuals and lesbians to have the right to a civil union, thus, having the same rights as married people, such is not enough. By changing the definition of marriage activists not only want to radically redefine the meaning of the word so that it becomes unrecognisable - which raises the problem that if marriage is now to include gays and lesbians, what right do we have to exclude bisexual and transgender people?

Homosexual and lesbian activists are also seeking to gain the same type of respect and acceptance reserved for marriages involving heterosexual couples, something, by definition, that they currently lack.


Responses to this Post

In response to: Why gays/lesbians should not marry

Dr Richard Sippe says:

As a practising psychiatrist, homosexual (in a happy relationship of 25 years) and being politically a little to right of centre, I was somewhat surprised at this article. I have no problem with your prevalence figures for homosexual orientation, nor with your assertions about "long marches through the institutions" and Orwellian political correctness. I also find the current campaign for gay "marriage"  misguided. However, I don't really understand your arguments here. Are you concerned that homosexuality will lead to destabilization of society and that gay "marriage" will exacerbate this? Or perhaps there are other arguments? Do you have a fundamentalist religious objection to homosexuality itself?

The term gay "marriage" seems to me rather absurd but I'm not against some recognition of gay partnerships, which should include the legal and financial/taxation benefits afforded now to married couples. (The "registered partnership" arrangement in Germany, where I live most of the year, goes some way towards achieving the above sort of equity. I have never bothered with availing myself of this arrangement.)

My initial position regarding the Australian campaign was to be against - and still is more or less that. However, I wonder if the introduction of gay "marriage" might not actually strengthen an institution which so many young people (statistically) seem to be losing faith in?

dr richard sippe
darlinghurst, NSW



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23rd December 2011

In the following, and on the ABC the Drum, I argue that marriage should only be between a man and a women.Dennis Altman, in a comment piece for yesterday's The Age in response to the ALP conferenc...
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