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National Day of Action for Marriage Equality

By Passy - 28 July 2008 114

Marriage equality

In the coming week or so there will be demonstrations around Australia for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians and for their right to adopt.

[ED – In the interests of local topicallity let it be noted that the Canberra demonstration will be at 1.30 pm on Saturday 2 August in Garema Place]

Many people will attend out of a sense of fairness. It is only just that any person, irrespective of sexual orientation, has equal rights with others.

But we need to go further and understand the roots of homophobia in our society to begin to see how to overcome this deep seated reaction.

The forces against gay marriage are numerous. Half a million of them were in Sydney a few weeks ago.

But it would be a mistake to attribute anti-gay sentiment to religion alone. Certainly many religious groups (but not all) have taken up the cudgels of anti-homosexual propaganda as their power and influence over society has weakened.

Historically it is not even the case that the rise of Christianity coincided with the rise of anti-same sex laws.

The decline of the power of the Roman Empire (before Constantine converted to Christianity) saw it begin to tax its own citizens to save itself. Prior to this decline the wealth of the Empire had been built solely on slaves.

As its own citizens became part of the exploited classes through taxation, the Emperors enacted laws banning all sexual activity (not just same sex activity) that did not lead to procreation. Anal sex, homosexuality, bestiality were all non-productive and so were banned. The thinking was that by doing this there would be more Roman citizens to exploit.

This is precisely the thinking that led the ruling elite under capitalism to attack homosexuality. Indeed the word homosexuality was not known until the late 19th Century when the anti-same sex campaign reached full expression.

Why then?

Capitalism had waged a long campaign to drive peasants off the land and into the factories in the cities.

But for capitalism to continue, it needs its next generation of workers. The family provides the perfect solution for the employing class to bring that about.

A stereotypical family – male breadwinner, with wife and children as chattels – creates that future group of workers, at little cost to those who benefit, the bosses. The cost is borne by the bread winner and more immediately his wife.

This model, to be successful, needed to be enforced on workers who showed little enthusiasm initially for this family. Criminalising homosexual activity was one aspect of this enforcement.

The Christian Churches were an accessory to this, partly because their rules on sexuality developed at a time when the Roman State had banned homosexual activity and Catholicism was about to take over that State.

The Church’s sleeping seed of rabid homophobia was given new life with the rise of capitalism. This gave power to the Churches as they struggled against the ideas of the enlightenment and rational thought.

The women’s liberation movement in the 60s and 70s broke the shackles of the family as the bedrock of society. The uneasy compromise capitalism reached with that movement – women as both workers and carers – opened up a space for those in same sex relationships.

Couple this with the fact that the 60s were truly a time of ferment and challenge to the ruling order, and militant demonstrations for homosexual rights saw the old anti-homosexual criminal laws swept away in many Western countries.

Some, like Spain, have now recognised gay marriage.

But make no mistake. The nature of capitalism is such that it still sees the family unit as the best model for cheaply producing the next generation of workers.

Hence, while accepting the reality of gay relationships, many (like Howard and Rudd) still hanker for the old days when women were brood mares for capital and homosexuality a crime.

Those days are gone, but the forces of reaction will try to wind back the gains if they can. They have popular allies in many of the churches and among more backward elements of society.

These demonstrations are an important step in defending and extending the rights of gays and lesbians to equality. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

John Passant is a Canberra writer. He will be attending the Canberra demonstration beginning at 1.30 pm on Saturday 2 August in Garema Place.

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114 Responses to
National Day of Action for Marriage Equality
Mælinar - *spoiler 2:44 pm 28 Jul 08

How can we when you paint us with cudgels ?

Passy 1:49 pm 28 Jul 08

Thanks for all the ad hominem attacks. Perhaps attempting to address the issues might be appropriate.

Growling Ferret 1:42 pm 28 Jul 08

Where is V8 Berlina when a cliche needs to be trotted out?

Ralph 12:04 pm 28 Jul 08

Indeed. Socialist Alliance and the usual gaggle of jobless Trotskyists will be about to opine at the protest de jour.

Mr Evil 11:47 am 28 Jul 08

I’m all 100 of the usual faces will have a wonderful time at the protest together.

Passant a writer – that’s really funny!

Loquaciousness 9:53 am 28 Jul 08

Passy, announcing the event would have been quite sufficient. Why unleash a tirade to go with it? All you’ve succeeded in doing is polarising your readers. Anybody who calls themselves a ‘writer’ should know that, not only should you refrain from writing stuff you clearly know nothing about (and if you do, you should at least check your ‘facts’), but that writing inflammatory things like you have only results in – well – flames. Sure, it might get more people reading your post, but the only people it’s going to attract to your event are those who are going to be throwing vindictive and ridicule (or harder objects if you’re unlucky). And I’m not sure that that was your intention …

peterh 9:52 am 28 Jul 08

the lead pipes that the roman empire used probably didn’t help much either.

Aurelius 9:28 am 28 Jul 08

Utter tosh!
The Empire’s decline stemmed from Hadrian and Trajan’s decision to cease expansion. This led to the legions no longer being able to get rich off plunder and conquest, and thus they turned more internally, allowing greater military involvement in politics and thus a gradually less stable and more fractured empire.
Taxation was widespread throughout the Empire for its entire lifespan. For example, the Emperor Vespasian introduced a tax on going to the toilet! Even the census surveys (which was the reason Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem on Christmas Day) were conducted for taxation reasons.
If you’re going to explain your rubbish by history, try reading some of it first.

spoonbill 9:20 am 28 Jul 08

It seems to me the issue is that homosexual couples want something that ‘mainstream’ heterosexual society does not want to, or is not yet ready to give them – ‘marriage’. Therefore homosexual couples need to think laterally and come up with an alternative description for what they want. While it is easy to call this homophobic, married members of society probably just want to preserve marriage as it currently stands. Is this wrong or discriminatory – no. I am sure many men have wanted maternity leave but as males it is something that they can’t have. They accept the fact and don’t play the discrimination card.

neanderthalsis 9:19 am 28 Jul 08

So Catholics and capitalism are to blame?

Perhaps all the supporters of Gay Marriage should go and buy themselves an island and set up their own athiestic socialist utopia and stop their “oh woe is me” victimism and attributing blame for their plight on the silent majority in society.

Indeed the word homosexuality was not known until the late 19th Century when the anti-same sex campaign reached full expression.

Before this they were called sodomites and I do believe that their sexual persuasion would have caused much more social outrage and oppression than your average gay does now.

So you and all your little gay friends can go and march down the street protesting about how the mean and wicked old government is oppressing them by not allowing them to have marriage ceremony and the rest of us will not give a flying bucket of monkey pus because in the general scheme of things it is entirely a non-issue.

Ralph 9:18 am 28 Jul 08

Nice to see some Marxists are still clinging to their failed ideology.

If we allow homosexual deviates to marry and adopt, it’s only fair that we also legislate to allow for polygamy? Right? There isn’t much difference once you’re on the slippery slope.

Indeed, Patsy failed to mention how the Islamic countries continue to execute gays.

G-Fresh 9:16 am 28 Jul 08

What a gay thread

Mælinar - *spoiler 9:01 am 28 Jul 08

So – the homophobes are portrayed as a cudgel weilding Roman Empireesque group of thugs; whereas the oppressed flower-wielding lovey doveys are into daisy chains in their hair and white robes.

A few thousand years of recorded history teaches us that the person with the biggest gun gets to write the chapter on winning the war. Good luck with that human wave concept.

poptop 8:57 am 28 Jul 08

I certainly support marriage equality and have a number of friends in same-sex relationships who are or are planning to become parents [I think they will be no worse and probably considerably better than me at this].

Passy’s post seems to confuse the issue of the nuclear family as economic unit and the relatively recent phenomena of homophobia.

If the nuclear family is a sham designed to breed workers for our capitalist masters, surely this is a reason to not only make a stand against gay marriage but against monogomous marriages of any sort. As gay couples are able to produce and economically support progeny [worker drones], surely supporting gay marriage is now playing into the hands of the Capialists?

Thumper 8:51 am 28 Jul 08

What an incredibly indulgent and overblown rant that really does draw some seriously long bows. Did he leave anyone out of the blame game? Surely GW Bush must be implicated for this to be taken seriously?

And I would suggest that he has been a little liberal with some of the facts.

And also, could I suggest that in Islamic countries gays are beheaded. Why not mention that as well? Could ideology being blinding our letter writer?

John Passant is a Canberra writer.

No, he is a serial letter writer to the Canberra Times, not a writer in the sense that this story suggests.

Oh, and for the record, I really don’t care either way as gay marriage won’t affect me one iota.

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