Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There’s a good reason marriage is a hetero thing

What with New York legislating same-sex marriage, and Labor state conferences toppling like dominos, it appears that same-sex marriage activists have adopted a new tack: “momentum rhetoric”.

The most blatant momentum rhetoric sprang up around the recent Galaxy Poll, wherein 75 per cent of respondents agreed that same-sex marriage is inevitable in Australia.

It was an odd poll - more Nostradamus than Aquinas - on what really is a complicated political and moral issue. No engagement with the issue itself, just speculation as to where we might end up.

Then again, perhaps the poll sits comfortably with a debate in which two sides spend a great deal of time arguing about completely different things.

For same-sex marriage advocates, it’s about equality. Or as Senthorun Raj put it with crystalline clarity yesterday: “Marriage equality is an issue about respect and visibility.”

Activists like Raj want to use marriage law to achieve the social and cultural objective of increasing respect and visibility for men and women who identify as homosexual.

As far as the objective goes, Raj is unlikely to court much opposition. He certainly won’t get any from me: I too believe that respect and visibility must be accorded to all members of society, without regard to gender, race, religion, sexual preference, etc.

What concerns me is the means that Raj and others are advocating for achieving this outcome, namely, the radical modification of the institution of marriage.

This is why those on my side of the debate tend to focus our argument on the institution itself: why it is the way it is, and why changing it is a bad idea.

And so while the recent momentum rhetoric is all clinking champagne glasses and anticipatory excitement, allow me to offer a glass of cold water to the face, and a snap back to the reality of the institution we call marriage.

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