Despite the “protests of relics” at the recent rally against marriage equality, about 70 per cent of Australians want marriage reform, says Matt Williams.
I think by now we are all aware of Bob Katter’s comment that he’d
“walk backwards from Bourke if the poof population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001 per cent”.
At that time he was unaware of the gay couple who owned the local bakery, less than 100m walk from his electorate office — what a dedicated local member he is [rolls eyes]). Whilst we (gay, bisexual straight or other) all might get a chuckle out of the apparent wilful ignorance of relics of the past like Bob Katter, behind this “old man political incorrectness” lies an irrational and borderline illegal hatred of and discrimination against homosexual Australians that is made all the more concerning by the fact that he is seemingly not alone in this in Parliament.
Whilst many of you were focussed on the frankly hilarious (for all the wrong reasons) No Carbon Tax Rally, otherwise known as the “Shady Pines Retirement Home bi-annual trip to the Canberra”, not enough of us were focussing on a far more insidious rally — the anti-Marriage Equality rally.
Australia is quickly beginning to look like the social backwater of the western world, discounting the flaming (in the “literally on fire” sense) cesspit that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Why? Because of our out-dated views on marriage equality at a federal level. When a country of such overwhelming religious zealotry such as the United States can pass marriage equality laws in multiple states, the question is: why can’t we?
Katter, more-so than the other MPs who spoke, drifted into the realm of “hatespeak”, toeing the line of what is legally acceptable to say in public. His comments that
“this proposition [gay marriage] deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed. It doesn’t deserve any serious treatment”
and that the word “gay” was once a “beautiful word” that had been “stolen” by homosexuals (actually, there’s quite substantial evidence that the term “gay” was first associated with homosexuality in the 1920s by “heterosexual society”— so it wasn't "stolen") border on what is generally accepted as “hatespeak” as defined by several separate pieces of both Federal and State anti-discrimination legislation. In several jurisdictions around the country, anti-hatespeak legislation is designed to give redress when a person is victimised on account of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Katter’s vitriol is only slightly less offensive than the bile spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, an American group who have been barred from entry to our country due to them being a “hate group”.
Liberal MP, and runner-up in the SuperNova 2011 “Borg Look-a-like” contest, Kevin Andrews’ opinion regarding marriage equality is as equally unsurprising as Katter’s with Andrews stating that
“this is a destruction of marriage, not simply a redefinition”.
Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce, stated that he “feared” for the future of his four daughters if same sex marriage was allowed, saying
“we know that the best protection for those girls is that they get into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen to them, I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me”.
Firstly, Barnaby seems to be suggesting that if men could marry other men that there would be no men left willing to marry his daughters…hmmm….if they are anything like their dim-witted father I can see how that might be a possibility... Secondly, what Barnaby is talking about is the protection of his rights. This totally boils down to rights — rights that Barnaby feels would be jeopardised by giving everyone in society the same rights — see the problem there?
Despite the protests of relics like Bob Katter MP, Kevin Andrews MP, Barnaby Joyce MP and John Murphy MP, that allowing gay people to marry will not only weaken the institution (if anything, allowing anyone who is in love to declare that love publicly through marriage would strengthen the currently faltering institution) but is also an “affront” to a Judaeo-Christian sky-deity (sorry Katter/Kevin/John, in Australia, marriage is actually a legally recognised institution controlled by the Marriage Act 1961, an Act of Federal Parliament which governs and legally defines marriage in Australia and made possibly by s51 [xxi] of the Australian Constitution) — it seems that in some respects they are being left behind by an increasingly socially accepting and liberal society.
All State Labor parties (bar NSW) have backed marriage equality. The approval rate for marriage equality is close to 70 per cent given most recent polls. Surprisingly, poll results released today have shown that even amongst Christians (the historical enemy of marriage equality) 53 per cent of those polled believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry —so perhaps it’s only a matter of time, or rather, a matter of political convenience.
(This story was originally published in Matt Williams' blog 'Standpoint' on August 16, 2011, and has been republished with permission.)