Eric Abetz and the Case for Same-Sex Marriage

Hugh Harris / 04 July 2015

Not once in his flawed jeremiad The fight for same-sex marriage in Australia is far from over does Eric Abetz refer to the rights of gay and lesbian people. It’s almost as if they don’t exist at all. But by his use of “Bizarro” world logic he actually makes the argument for the LGBT Community.

Notwithstanding, most Australians have gay and lesbian friends and colleagues. Even the Parliament has members in same-sex relationships such as the ALP’s Penny Wong, and Liberal MP Dean Smith. The argument for same-sex marriage involves simply accepting the LGBT community and acknowledging their relationships are equal in the eyes of the law.

Nothing more than an acceptance of what society already accepts; nothing revolutionary or dramatic.

The bitter sauce Abetz drizzles on his complaints probably reflects the attitude of one who knows he’s fighting a losing battle. He presents a list of assertions without evidence as if we are supposed to just accept them on his own personal authority. And what a stretch coming from the same man health experts derided as “irresponsibly” claiming a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Abetz argues:

In a democracy social policy should be decided by the people, not by the judiciary, as has happened in the United States this week.

Apply this to Australia where 72% of us support same-sex marriage and you’d think Abetz is arguing for same-sex recognition. Thanks Eric, from all your LGBT friends! Since we don’t have a Bill of Rights, the Australian people look to the Parliament, not the judiciary, to enact its will on social issues such as this.

In terms of public opinion the ship has sailed and only die-hard opponents of same-sex marriage are clinging to the hull trying to stave off the inevitable. Public opinion rarely recedes from the liberal to the illiberal. Progress is usually inexorable and irreversible.

It is disappointingly predictable that the media in Australia is obsessed by a slim majority activist US Supreme Court decision.

Abetz discredits his own assertion by discussing the ins and outs of SCOTUS decision for most of his article. His “disappointment” seems to be aimed at the decision of the US Supreme Court more than anything else.

No evidence is provided for his odd description of an “activist” judiciary, leaving the reader to assume that an “activist” judge is one who disagrees with Abetz.

It’s regrettable that the media has lost its objectivity on this issue. With the recent one-sided reporting of the Supreme Court ruling in the US, same-sex propaganda is hitting new heights.

How disappointingly predictable! Bias has fast become the favorite topic for some arch-Conservative figures in the Coalition. Their troubling reactions to those who challenge their policies, such as the Human Rights Commission President or the ABC, betray a failure to appreciate that objectivity itself is a matter of opinion. And, by definition, Abetz and Co. cannot possibly make objective assessments of their own performance, never mind the perceived bias of others.

With Upsy-Daisy logic they mistake disagreement as bias, and defend their own policies by assailing the professional conduct and reputation of their foes with the tawdry aim of burnishing their own prestige and power.

Study after study, time and time again, shows that children benefit from having a father and mother.

Abetz doesn’t mention which studies he refers to, but can only mean studies which compare traditional family units to single parent families. Blithely passing judgement on single parent families is irrelevant. By these lights we should revisit the right to divorce, rather than disallow gay marriage.

Studies comparing straight versus same-sex couples are few, but have shown that gay couples actually provide marginally better outcomes for the happiness and health of their children.

Dean Smith has shown the way for some of his Conservative colleagues:

Now I might not aspire to gay marriage, but no one is going to tell me that I would be a bad parent because I am a gay man.

Well, perhaps someone would.

The remainder of Abetz’s argument relies on supposed truths about what “Marriage” is.

It has always existed for just one man and one woman.

This is just blatantly false and ignores the well-known history of polygamy in most societies until relatively recently. Plural wives are alluded to in various parts of the Old Testament. Polygamy was allowed periodically in Christian societies, and unequivocally in various religions such as Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Celtic traditions, and early Judaism.

Ancient Roman men were known to marry each other, including the Emperor Nero who famously married two men, Pythagoras and Sporus, the latter in an ostentatious ceremony.

The nature of marriage has also changed over the years, much of it driven by changes in values and social movements such as women’s rights. Divorce became possible. Sex before marriage is now the norm rather than the exception.

History wars are beside the point. The present is the dimension that blowhard’s like Abetz fail to acknowledge. Prior to heading off into the future they might like to take a look around. They will see same-sex couples as accepted members of society, raising children, and providing a valuable contribution. Take your time Eric and have a good look around.

The institution of marriage has stood the test of time.

No-one is suggesting otherwise – only that it applies to same-sex relationships also, and moves with the times. Changing two words in The Marriage Act will do the trick.

Dean Smith:

We should all abhor stereotypes. They diminish people. I want every young Australian, gay or straight, to be the tennis star, the swimmer, the Liberal Party politician – whatever they want to be in their life.

Australians no longer want Government peeking in to their bedrooms. What people do in the confines of their marriages and their homes is nobody else’s business.

In further efforts, counterproductive to his aims, Abetz has called for the resignation of front benchers who support marriage equality. He has been rebuked by Christopher Pyne.

On Sky news he suggested gay marriage may lead to polyamory, reminding us of Cory Bernardi’s comical suggestion of bestiality – which led to Bernardi’s sacking from the front bench. Not that it matters but marriage equality hasn’t led to polygamy anywhere in the world – the world is moving away from polygamy.

Eric Abetz is absolutely right to say “social policy should be decided by the people.” This debate is entwined around the question of whether LGBT relationships are acceptable in our society, and whether they should enjoy the same access to marriage as heterosexual relationships.

It’s a matter of opinion. And in a democracy – the opinion of the majority rules!

Senior Coalition figures can claim media bias all they like, but they can’t afford to ignore the views of most Australians. Respect for all views should apply, but the majority view should carry the day. Even those who oppose same-sex marriage should recognize this.

All the more reason.