National Day of Action for Marriage Equality

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
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neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 11:18 am 31 Jul 08

now he’s a Canberra yobbo. At least 2 rungs up on the social ladder.

Aurelius Aurelius 11:07 am 31 Jul 08

Neanderthalsis above is right. It’s much easier for someone to move up the scale these days. Todd Carney was once a Goulburn yobbo!

Loquaciousness Loquaciousness 11:05 am 31 Jul 08

Simbo, very well put. Thanks for sharing 🙂

L

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 10:50 am 31 Jul 08

Passy said :

The world is divded into workers and boses (in the main). we workers sell our labour. The bosses won the factories, mines, offices and so forth. Theya re the capitalists ebcasue they won the very things essential to produce goods and service, and allw e own is our ability to work.

The one true beauty of modern capitalism is the ease of transition between the roles of worker and boss (to use your terminology). Many of the leaders of industry in Australia today started their lives on the factory floor. Given that by the ABS 2004 Small Business figures there were 1,660,000 owner / operators of non-agricultural small / medium enterprises, add in the farm boys and you have nearly a quarter of the Australian workforce as one of your so-called bosses.

The days of Victorian England are behind us. Now your average coal miner can earn more that someone on the back bench in the federal parliament, in fact I’m sure that many Canberrans in mid – senior level PS jobs earn more than a backbencher. We don’t have bosses and workers any more, we have what I like to call the “prostitute model”. Everyone sells themselves, in some form, to the highest bidder. Some sell their bodies (physical labour) some, like me who would get bugger all for my body, sell their mental capacity. We all do it, from Don Argus down to the 16yo behind the counter at MacDonalds.

As a nation we have become increasingly secular, whilst a solid portion of the population identify themselves as Christian, many are non-practicing. Church going numbers are exceptionally low.

Most people a very strongly libertarian, more than willing to let other people do what they want as long as it does not adversly effect our standard of living. Thus the reason many people aren’t supportive of gay marriage, is because they honestly don’t care. they did that quick mental calculation of “will this affect me?” came up with the conclusion that no it won’t and subsequently switched off.

It is not a sexy cause either, it is not saving a cute little fur seal from being clubbed by a mean old eskimo, it will not stop a tree from being cut down, it won’t reduce inflation or make petrol cheaper, so the rest of us couldn’t give a flying bucket of monkey pus.

jakez jakez 9:43 am 31 Jul 08

Thumper said :

<

We should chip in and buy him a copy of Schama’s History of Britain.

He’d probably just write a Marxist critique of it and post it on here.

Thumper Thumper 8:18 am 31 Jul 08

I was talking of the extreme left’s tendency to hyperbole, exaggeration, distortions of history and general rejoicing in their predictions of doom. If you know who he is, have an online look at some of the stuff this guy writes.

I would say that this is also my main gripe. The sentiments and ideas may be worthy but coming from such a background they appear to be a deliberate lie using any method possible to get an idea across. Orwell would be rolling in his grave.

And this is a perfect example. many people here would ne, or are quite supportive of the gay marraige thing, yet someone like Passant starts ranting about capitalism, Romans, religious groups, families (all very selectively)and it shows that he doesn’t really care about the issue but cares more about pushing his less than factual marxist agenda.

As proof, read what Simbo said.

We should chip in and buy him a copy of Schama’s History of Britain.

imhotep imhotep 12:14 am 31 Jul 08

@ Tom Tom. You may be right. The website I read said that the ‘BBQ’ was held during work time. Other sites say it was lunch time. Either way, it was a union meeting, not a BBQ.

If you read my post, you may have noticed that I wasn’t actually discussing the merits of the the possible jailing of Mr. Washington.

I was talking of the extreme left’s tendency to hyperbole, exaggeration, distortions of history and general rejoicing in their predictions of doom. If you know who he is, have an online look at some of the stuff this guy writes.

Anyway, since you’re so keen, here’s some other of Passy’s claims you can defend:

“…many (like Howard and Rudd) still hanker for the old days when women were brood mares for capital and homosexuality a crime.” Oh really? He knows them? Both?

…”But for capitalism to continue, it needs its next generation of workers…criminalizing homosexual activity was one aspect of this enforcement.”
(edited, but the thrust of it is that evil capitalists banned homosexuality to create more workers. Who knew?)

And his ‘history’ of the Roman Empire? I’m sure he’s read all of Marx, but I don’t think he’s read much Gibbon. But you may be right about the lunch time thing. Enjoy.

.

Thumper Thumper 10:13 pm 30 Jul 08

Well put Simbo. Very well put.

I-filed I-filed 10:12 pm 30 Jul 08

Hopefully the gays petitioning for equality on this front do not include any of the nepotistic luvvies in my workplace (a collecting institution). I have never seen such open, unabashed, unashamed nepotism in a public service context.

simbo simbo 9:55 pm 30 Jul 08

Okay, I’m a gay bloke. And, should I meet another gay bloke I want to spend the rest of my life with, I’d like to get hitched to him. I generaly think that marriage is a civil institution, NOT a religious one – most weddings nowadays take place outside of a church, and with no religious implications whatsoever.

And people like Passy annoy the living hell out of me. I was actually involved in the first of this year’s civil union rallies – as part of the planning and preparations for a rally in support of the ACT government’s process. It was a good rally – up until one member of the group decided that, despite the planning process deliberately having decided AGAINST having a big march, a member of the group suddenly grabbed a megaphone and declared we were all marching to Garema Place. Who was it? Oh, my gosh, it would be the one who had friends from Resistance along for the ride. The professional rabble-rousers.

I object to people like Passy who aren’t really invested in my cause at all – they just find it a perfectly viable excuse to sound off on all sorts of irrelevant, inappropriate stuff. You care about gay marriage or you don’t because you believe two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together should be able to do that without impedement or other drama. You don’t care about it because of the socio-political history of Capitalism.

tom-tom tom-tom 9:10 pm 30 Jul 08

imhotep, the meeting was held off site, outside of work hours and was over a bbq, get your facts straight.

the cfmeu organiser is being threatend with jail for refusing to answer questions from the ABCC and betraying his members privacy, not just for having the bbq.

there are a lot more horror stories about the ABCC floating around if you want to do some research; try looking up the 19yr old who was targetted after his workmate was seriously injured, or the uni lecturer who was targetted after overhearing a union meeting.

i’d suggest passy might actually have more of a clue than you about this

Thumper Thumper 8:40 pm 30 Jul 08

Yep, sure have…..

imhotep imhotep 8:08 pm 30 Jul 08

Thumper said :

(Thumper) ‘…intellectual is someone who cares more about their own ideaology than they do about people.’

Funny you should say that Thumper. Have you noticed that the extreme left (along with religious extremists) are always talking about some looming apocalypse, (with seeming glee).

They don’t seem too worried about all the misery that would accompany some global meltdown, so long as it vindicated their particular ideology.

Aurelius Aurelius 8:01 pm 30 Jul 08

Passy,
I rarely criticise spelling in online forums. But your #98 rant borders on illegibility. If you call yourself a writer, you are sadly mistaken.

Thumper Thumper 7:31 pm 30 Jul 08

imhotep,

As I previously alluded, some people just won’t allow facts to get in the way of ideaology.

And having read Passant’s rants in the CT for many years, I think I can say that this one is no different.

Someone once said that an intellectual is someone who cares more about their own ideaology than they do about people. Make your own mind up if Passat qualifies.

imhotep imhotep 6:36 pm 30 Jul 08

Passy, you claim that a union official was to go to jail for having a BBQ. I thought ‘bloody hell! That’s a bit rough’.

However, google revealed that the ‘BBQ’ was in fact an off-site union meeting attended by 500 people, held in work time.

I don’t know what the meeting was about. Perhaps there are serious grievances at that work site.

But why can’t you guys just tell the truth? Your OP is full of ‘facts’ which are at best debatable. All these little distortions and half-truths dilute the validity of your opinion.

Passy Passy 5:17 pm 30 Jul 08

PeterH

Thanks for your comemtns. The world is divded into workers and boses (in the main). we workers sell our labour. The bosses won the factories, mines, offices and so forth. Theya re the capitalists ebcasue they won the very things essential to produce goods and service, and allw e own is our ability to work.

of course I ahve possesssions. That deosn’t make me a capitalist. we want all to have the toothbrush factroy, not your toothbrush.

Your friends are rihgt, although my Uni colleagues tell me there is a bit of a resonance on campus about teh issue of gay marriage equality. But the ALP (includign the Chief Minister) have gvien at elast verbal support to teh rally.

if your firends don’t turn up becuase it will just be the same old faces then it will becomea self fulling prophesy.

I don’t see what relevance my sexuality has to the discussion. I just see this issue as one of basic equality and at the same time linked to a range of other issues in our society, inclduing the wider issue of de facto discrimination against gays, people of other races and the denigration and criminalisation of legitimate union activity.

I’m sorry you find my articles on Online Opinion difficult to read. It is a common complaint aginst me. I write in what I think are simple styles and find i ahve written for people who are experts on a topic (when I am not an expert and at best like most journalists or opinion writers am just a generalist). I am trying to address my style but think that after 30 yeasr or so of writing this way it is going to be hard to kick.

peterh peterh 3:38 pm 30 Jul 08

Passy, where do you fit in the scheme of things? are you a part of a commune, or do you work and earn wages? do you have any luxury items?

If you are claiming that the world is full of capitalists, out to make money and gain possessions, do you have any?

why do I feel that the diatribe that you have provided seems to focus on others and not on yourself?

I have looked at online opinion a couple of times, but found it too difficult for me to read and understand without resorting to old battered copies of books I had to buy at a lifeline sale. I read to improve myself, but I have been bogged down by some of the comments that you have made, as well as the linkages between history and present.

i think that the fundamental question here, is whether you are gay, or campaigning for gay rights as a sympathiser?

The friends i have discussed this with feel that it is a storm in a teacup, and won’t have the necessary clout – probably will attract the same old faces at your national day, and won’t rate a mention in the news.

they are interested to see how you go, but won’t attend.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 3:22 pm 30 Jul 08

Passy, to address your statement about homesexuality being banned to encourage the family unit in Victorian England and Australia – you need to remember that 99.9999% of these countries were Christian back then, therefore many of the standards of society were influenced by Christian thinking and in so forth, many of the laws. As to why homosexuality was originally banned by the bible, I’m not quite sure, but I suspect it may have to do with the sensibilities of the people who originally wrote it – the Hebrews, rather than the Romans, as Judaism and Islam are against homosexuality as well (although you are correct in thinking that the romans did a hell of alot of editing to make our current bible).|

You claimed that the reason homosexuality was banned was because the Roman Empire and the Victorian Empire wanted the family unit for what would eventually turn into Capitalism. I think you’re wrong about that. I think it’s more to do with religious sensibilities passed down by Christianity itself, rather than an edit by the Romans, since Judaism and Islam share similar views, and they evolved from the same religious thinking but didn’t go through the Roman Empire.
I don’t think homosexuality is opposed by the Christian right to preserve the traditional idea of a family unit for the purposes of Capitalism. I think it’s because opposing it secures the Christian Right demographic and the homophobic moron with a mortgage, as well as the homophobic moron without a mortgage demographic.

Passy Passy 3:09 pm 30 Jul 08

deadmandrinking

You say:

“Ignoring Ralph usually ill-thought out statements (oh, what the heck, Ralph, anti-gay persecution has been going on for centuries – you’d think they would have been ‘bred out’ by now if your theory worked.)

“Passy, to address your statement about homesexuality being banned to encourage the family unit in Victorian England and Australia – you need to remember that 99.9999% of these countries were Christian back then, therefore many of the standards of society were influenced by Christian thinking and in so forth, many of the laws. As to why homosexuality was originally banned by the bible, I’m not quite sure, but I suspect it may have to do with the sensibilities of the people who originally wrote it – the Hebrews, rather than the Romans, as Judaism and Islam are against homosexuality as well (although you are correct in thinking that the romans did a hell of alot of editing to make our current bible).

“The concept of ‘mateship’, I thought at least, is descended from the convict settler era, where many of the first whites depended on each other to survive in what was often a harsh and unforgiving land.

“I believe in equal marraige and I couldn’t give a toss what a grown adult does to another grown adult in their bedroom and, to be honest, I might address another of Ralph’s statements (lucky you!) in saying that with polygamy…hell, if three people agree to it and they’re okay with it..f-ck yeah! I’ll buy them a beer! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want two wives…”

I agree with much of this so I am not sure what I am supposed to debate with you. However I’m not sure about polygamy, or polyandry either.

I do think the question of mateship might have more to do with the fact that the ratio of men to women in settler and squatter days was hugely out of whack (is there a pun in there somewhere?). So on those cold and lonely nights … And bingo, the concept of mateship arises, suitably sanitised today. Maybe it came out of the first world war and the need to depend on others for your life in the hell holes that were Gallipoli and the Western front and the like.

Don’t know, but either explanation does seem on the surface plausible. I merely asked the question about mateship to suggest that one of our great traditions might in fact express ideas and realities many of the posters might vehemently disagree with. No doubt the historians on the site can disabuse me of my “out loud” thinking about mateship.

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