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New low in marriage equality debate

By Steven Bailey 11 June 2015 73

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Well written, well read. That’s the motto of Canberra print title City News. But as Canberrans turned the first page to read this week’s featured article, a turgid diatribe written by Nick Jenson proclaiming that he and his wife may divorce if gay people are allowed to legally marry, the ACT found itself at the centre of a new and bigoted low in the fight for marriage equality.

Jenson, a prominent affiliate of the Australian Christian Lobby, reasons that although he and his wife are deeply in love, they cannot “as a matter of conscience, recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-sex couples.”

The mean-spirited invective in the guise of Christian probity continues as the naive and deluded ideologue declares that “by changing the definition of marriage, ‘marriage’ will, in years to come, have an altogether different sense and purpose. We no longer wish to be associated with this new definition.”

Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.

Until only recently, it seemed that same sex marriage would be unattainable in Australia during Abbott’s reign. But as many countries around the world begin to legislate for marriage equality, it is increasingly more likely that Abbott will succumb to the political opportunism of allowing a free vote within the Federal Parliament. Abbott knows that as objectionable the notion of two loving and consenting adults marrying is to him, it may be politically imperative to secure his survival for a second term.

The opponents to marriage equality have had to rally their troops faster than expected and, as a result, will resort to the desperate tactics that we have seen from Canberra couple Nick and Sarah Jenson.

Of course, the Jensons have to realise that we don’t care if they divorce. The argument for marriage equality is predicated on love and justice.

If the Jensons are prepared to dissolve their marriage because they reject the notion that two consenting and loving adults might marry, it only proves to the rest of Canberra, and Australia, that their marriage is not based on love at all. Their union is based on doctrine and scripture rather than a visceral and heartfelt need to be together.

The cause for marriage equality will be won by demonstrating the best of our humanity. In the face of hatred, rather than become hateful ourselves, we must demonstrate our humanity.

As painful as it may be for our young gay and lesbian children and brothers and sisters, we need to rise above the hatred that is directed towards them. That the opponents to marriage equality have sunk to a new low is simply an opportunity for the rest of Australia to rise above them.

Nick and Sarah Jenson, I forgive you.


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New low in marriage equality debate
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MrBigEars 10:48 pm 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

What has that got to do with anything? The government would set out the conditions of the plebiscite prior to any vote. They would determine whether it was binding or not.

Do you actually think they would go to the effort only to reject the outcome anyway? That would defeat the whole point of the exercise.

Exactly. It’s why there’ll never be a plebiscite.

rubaiyat 5:21 pm 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

Do you actually think they would go to the effort only to reject the outcome anyway? That would defeat the whole point of the exercise.

So how did the referendum on Self Government for the ACT work out?

justin heywood 5:10 pm 15 Jun 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes, there are people who disagree with gay marriage, just as there are people who support it, and people who don’t care either way. Generalising all those who disagree with your opinion as conservative, religious nutters is narrow-minded and, I suspect, inaccurate.

I think it’s better the let the debate run its course, and take the high road as far as expressing your viewpoint.

Absolutely. As the Irish vote has shown, most people either support it or don’t care that much. Let it go.

Mysteryman 5:08 pm 15 Jun 15

MrBigEars said :

Mysteryman said :

Nobody is saying the constitution needs to be changed. The term “referendum” is being used by people to refer to a plebiscite – a question asked of the entire voting population that doesn’t affect a constitutional change. It doesn’t cost a huge amount of money because it would be conducted at the same time as a federal election. People only have to tick one more piece of paper.

Plebiscites do not require “more than a majority” (I assume you’re referring to the requirements for changing the constitution – ‘a majority of people in a majority of states’). If the same-sex marriage advocates actually believed that two-thirds or more of Australian’s wanted same-sex marriage, they’d have no problem waiting for the election next year and pushing for a plebiscite.

But a government doesn’t have to honour the result of a plebiscite. Even if (when, more likely) the majority voted for it I doubt either pack of numpties would act upon it.

What has that got to do with anything? The government would set out the conditions of the plebiscite prior to any vote. They would determine whether it was binding or not.

Do you actually think they would go to the effort only to reject the outcome anyway? That would defeat the whole point of the exercise.

justin heywood 5:07 pm 15 Jun 15

rubaiyat said :

The whole idea of democracy both ancient and modern has come from the left…

So if that makes me, or others, “left wing-nuts”, we wear it with honour.

False premise, so the rest of your argument makes no sense.

You’re only on the ‘left’ because of some arbitrary line drawn by the practicalities of the current Australian political scene. In plenty of other countries the ‘middle’ in Australia would be far to the right or to the left.

As for where you’d be in the political spectrum of ancient Athens, who’d know, but I reckon it’s a bit too long ago to claim the moral high ground.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 4:44 pm 15 Jun 15

watto23 said :

Mysteryman said :

Plebiscites do not require “more than a majority” (I assume you’re referring to the requirements for changing the constitution – ‘a majority of people in a majority of states’). If the same-sex marriage advocates actually believed that two-thirds or more of Australian’s wanted same-sex marriage, they’d have no problem waiting for the election next year and pushing for a plebiscite.

Which is perfectly ok, but the government will only call a plebiscite when it thinks it will will it. If the No vote was going to be so high then calling a plebiscite would be the answer to put the issue to sleep for a decade or so. The problem is poll after poll and the outcry regarding this couple indicates otherwise. The Ipsos poll today highlights the yes vote is getting larger and larger since 2011 (the earliest poll i could find from them), which was still a majority Yes vote. There has yet to be an independent poll that has said otherwise. While polls have margins for error, its never really been close. Do people really feel the majority will vote No???? The greens might be against it (for reasosn unknown by mean), but if you offered them a plebiscite, I doubt they’d turn it down.

When it comes down to it, the No vote is purely their opinion based on their faith (well yet to meet a non religious person highly opposed to it). Its perfectly ok for them to have that opinion and to keep it. What is not perfectly ok is to deny them the right to marriage, just because you think they are sinners in your set of beliefs.

I think all religious people are sad and weak people unable to think for themselves and easily manipulated by those in power, but I’m not going to use my opinion to say they shouldn’t be allowed to do something. This is the core issue with religions in general. Always trying to push their beliefs onto society, rather than being happy within themselves with their own beliefs. I’m happy for them to practice their beliefs as long as it doesn’t affect society, much the same way as I’m happy for homosexuals families to exist as long as they don’t demand things that affect society.

The conservative vote is coming across as very antagonistic, narrow minded, mean and nasty. It really isn’t helping them maintain the image they think they have, especially in times of declining numbers within the church and religion.

Yes, there are people who disagree with gay marriage, just as there are people who support it, and people who don’t care either way. Generalising all those who disagree with your opinion as conservative, religious nutters is narrow-minded and, I suspect, inaccurate.

I think it’s better the let the debate run its course, and take the high road as far as expressing your viewpoint.

rubaiyat 4:39 pm 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

Because that’s so remarkably difference from the way left-wingnuts behave…

The whole idea of democracy both ancient and modern has come from the left, people who stand up for the majority in defence against the minority who think that they have an inherited right to rule.

The great thing about the Australian expression of that democracy is its obsession with fairness, even though that has come repeatedly under attack.

So if that makes me, or others, “left wing-nuts”, we wear it with honour.

MrBigEars 4:36 pm 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

Nobody is saying the constitution needs to be changed. The term “referendum” is being used by people to refer to a plebiscite – a question asked of the entire voting population that doesn’t affect a constitutional change. It doesn’t cost a huge amount of money because it would be conducted at the same time as a federal election. People only have to tick one more piece of paper.

Plebiscites do not require “more than a majority” (I assume you’re referring to the requirements for changing the constitution – ‘a majority of people in a majority of states’). If the same-sex marriage advocates actually believed that two-thirds or more of Australian’s wanted same-sex marriage, they’d have no problem waiting for the election next year and pushing for a plebiscite.

But a government doesn’t have to honour the result of a plebiscite. Even if (when, more likely) the majority voted for it I doubt either pack of numpties would act upon it.

watto23 4:17 pm 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

Plebiscites do not require “more than a majority” (I assume you’re referring to the requirements for changing the constitution – ‘a majority of people in a majority of states’). If the same-sex marriage advocates actually believed that two-thirds or more of Australian’s wanted same-sex marriage, they’d have no problem waiting for the election next year and pushing for a plebiscite.

Which is perfectly ok, but the government will only call a plebiscite when it thinks it will will it. If the No vote was going to be so high then calling a plebiscite would be the answer to put the issue to sleep for a decade or so. The problem is poll after poll and the outcry regarding this couple indicates otherwise. The Ipsos poll today highlights the yes vote is getting larger and larger since 2011 (the earliest poll i could find from them), which was still a majority Yes vote. There has yet to be an independent poll that has said otherwise. While polls have margins for error, its never really been close. Do people really feel the majority will vote No???? The greens might be against it (for reasosn unknown by mean), but if you offered them a plebiscite, I doubt they’d turn it down.

When it comes down to it, the No vote is purely their opinion based on their faith (well yet to meet a non religious person highly opposed to it). Its perfectly ok for them to have that opinion and to keep it. What is not perfectly ok is to deny them the right to marriage, just because you think they are sinners in your set of beliefs.

I think all religious people are sad and weak people unable to think for themselves and easily manipulated by those in power, but I’m not going to use my opinion to say they shouldn’t be allowed to do something. This is the core issue with religions in general. Always trying to push their beliefs onto society, rather than being happy within themselves with their own beliefs. I’m happy for them to practice their beliefs as long as it doesn’t affect society, much the same way as I’m happy for homosexuals families to exist as long as they don’t demand things that affect society.

The conservative vote is coming across as very antagonistic, narrow minded, mean and nasty. It really isn’t helping them maintain the image they think they have, especially in times of declining numbers within the church and religion.

justin heywood 12:20 pm 15 Jun 15

rubaiyat said :

Conservatives are only interested in democracy as a convenient means to an end. i.e. They tolerate it so long as they get their way. If they don’t get their way then they resort to any means available to circumvent it.

….and anyone to the left of ME politically is a dedicated Marxist determined to ruin the country and establish a worker’s paradise. I put about the same amount of thought into that view as you did to yours.
We all exist somewhere on a continuum between far left and far right. To ascribe a set of values to all those to the left or right of you is intellectually lazy, but oh so common

Back OT, politicians from all sides have been trying to dodge the issue of gay marriage for many years in the belief that the issue is too ‘hot’ politically. I think the Irish result shows that the issue is not as ‘hot’ as they fear.

The marriage issue is useful as a token of acceptance for the gay community, a useful way to wedge an unpopular and very Catholic Prime Minister, and a rallying point for ultra-religious types. But I think that, as in Ireland, MOST Australians either support the idea or don’t much care either way.

Mysteryman 11:04 am 15 Jun 15

rubaiyat said :

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

The facts remain that 40% of Ireland’s eligible voters didn’t vote.

Isn’t it remarkable how conservatives rail against compulsory voting yet when a poll goes against them in a country with voluntary voting they pull out the argument that such and such a percentage didn’t vote so somehow it doesn’t count. So the 40% who didn’t vote were all against gay marriage and would have defeated the referendum if there had been compulsory voting, eh? Ridiculous. We heard the same drivel from Fairfax’s Paul Sheehan, the poor man’s Piers Akerman. Oh and by the way, isn’t it funny how we never heard the same argument from these people when only 60% of Britons voted in the recent general election and gave David Cameron and the Conservatives an unexpected majority?

Conservatives are only interested in democracy as a convenient means to an end. i.e. They tolerate it so long as they get their way. If they don’t get their way then they resort to any means available to circumvent it.

Because that’s so remarkably difference from the way left-wingnuts behave…

Mysteryman 10:32 am 15 Jun 15

watto23 said :

Grrrr said :

Calls for a referendum on Marriage Equality are silly: The constitution doesn’t need to be changed because it doesn’t disallow it, and doesn’t need to recognise it.

A parliamentary vote will do the job just fine.

Agree and to pass a referendum you generally need more than a majority. And why is this such a big issue that it needs to waste taxpayers money for a referendum.

Its really got minimal impact on absolutely everyone else except for gay people. The issue is a small part of society feels they have ownership of marriage, they don’t like homosexuality and thus are flexing their muscles to deny as much as possible to a group of people they don’t like..

Nobody is saying the constitution needs to be changed. The term “referendum” is being used by people to refer to a plebiscite – a question asked of the entire voting population that doesn’t affect a constitutional change. It doesn’t cost a huge amount of money because it would be conducted at the same time as a federal election. People only have to tick one more piece of paper.

Plebiscites do not require “more than a majority” (I assume you’re referring to the requirements for changing the constitution – ‘a majority of people in a majority of states’). If the same-sex marriage advocates actually believed that two-thirds or more of Australian’s wanted same-sex marriage, they’d have no problem waiting for the election next year and pushing for a plebiscite.

bryansworld 9:56 am 15 Jun 15

Mysteryman said :

bryansworld said :

Mysteryman said :

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

The facts remain that 40% of Ireland’s eligible voters didn’t vote.
As to the “reliable polls” in Australia, I have asked hundreds of people if they were polled and none were. Most were not in favour of a homosexual version of the current Marriage Act either.

Keep burying your head in the sand. If voting was not compulsory in Australia you’d find this is also a non issue to a similar amount of people in Australia. A lot of people don’t care and can’t see the fuss. That leaves the minorities who support and oppose it to argue. So a very large proportion of people in ireland either didn’t care strongly enough to vote against it or cared enough to support it. Its a very large majority who did NOT oppose gay marriage. If the coalition were confident a referendum would come back with a NO to gay marriage, they’d have called it, just to bury the issue. Do you think Howard called a referendum on the Republic without being confident it would be a No vote.

Your personal experience is based on people you associate with, generally people associate with people of similar tastes. My experience is hundreds of people I know support it. I even know many religious people who don’t really like the idea but also agree its wrong to deny people something just because you don’t want them to have it.

Just about every poll conducted, many by reputable poll companies, say Australians are in favour of it. Poll companies generally get a wider range of people than the hundred of people you have asked. They are also generally unbiased, but I’ve seen the denialism from the conservative side of australia. If the poll doesn’t suit you, call everyone biased. ABC cops a fair amount of biased crap when mostly its not that biased, certainly doesn’t lean as far left as News corp leans right.

Wow.. .where to begin.

I guess I’ll just say this: the Greens and “marriage equality” groups have stated they are completely against letting the issue go to a plebiscite/referendum, despite their insistence that “nearly 2/3 of Australians want same-sex marriage”. Why do you think that is? I’ll tell you. They know that the percentage of people who would vote in favour of it is less than half. Probably a lot less.

I’ve seen people continuously quoting the two-thirds number and claiming that it’s backed up by reputable polls and surveys. It’s not. The one actual survey that same-sex marriage advocates are using to justify this claim surveyed a total of ~700 people in Sydney and Melbourne. Hardly a large enough cross section to extrapolate across the whole country.

The issue should go to a referendum at the same time as the issue of indigenous recognition in the constitution. Get them both done at the same time. If the majority of Australian’s *actually* want it, then make the law, same as they did in Ireland. If the majority don’t want it, stop wasting time in parliament with it.

Yeah sure, let’s vote on capital punishment while we are at it. There are very good reasons why Australia is a representative democracy.

If that’s your position, then why even let people vote? Let’s just have the politicians select their own successors and decide everything based on what they feel, rather than what the majority of people in their electorate feel. You’re obviously in favour of having them tell us what to do, rather than have them represent us. Are you also in favour of having our government tell other governments how they should govern? Were you a big supporter of telling Indonesia how they should conduct their business?

I won’t bother to address the fallacy in equating the capital punishment with same-sex marriage.

I said “representative democracy”. Let them get on with the job of governing. At regular intervals (ideally fixed four or five year terms) have your say on the kind of job they have done. I was not equating same-sex marriage with capital punishment. I referred to capital punushment to make the point that putting controversial issues to a popular vote could produce bad outcomes e.g. reintroducing capital punishment.

Steven Bailey 8:09 am 15 Jun 15

This is a conversation that I had on the matter with 2CC recently. http://2cc.net.au/podcasts/3521-marriage-debate-reaches-new-lows.html

dungfungus 10:09 pm 14 Jun 15

watto23 said :

Grrrr said :

Calls for a referendum on Marriage Equality are silly: The constitution doesn’t need to be changed because it doesn’t disallow it, and doesn’t need to recognise it.

A parliamentary vote will do the job just fine.

Agree and to pass a referendum you generally need more than a majority. And why is this such a big issue that it needs to waste taxpayers money for a referendum.

Its really got minimal impact on absolutely everyone else except for gay people. The issue is a small part of society feels they have ownership of marriage, they don’t like homosexuality and thus are flexing their muscles to deny as much as possible to a group of people they don’t like.

Laws are still very much in favour of marriage as well. I know a heterosexual couple who are not married yet. They both have children from previous partners. She has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Its basically been said that they should get married as that will make everything simpler with regards to the children after she has died. So I can imagine if its bad for a couple who can legally get married, imagine the inequity that would apply to a homosexual couple in this situation.

The world isn’t fair, we can’t control who gets cancer, or which country someone is born into, but we can control minor things like allowing people who want to get married to let them marry.

Otherwise i’m happy if laws allow me to discriminate against people of religious faith. If its ok by them, then I’m happy to play that game also. Tax churches for a start.

“……everything simpler with regards to the children after she has died….”
This infers that she cannot disperse assets because she isn’t married?
Most people have a will – you don’t have to be married to have a will. Even homosexuals can have a will.

rubaiyat 9:28 pm 14 Jun 15

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

The facts remain that 40% of Ireland’s eligible voters didn’t vote.

Isn’t it remarkable how conservatives rail against compulsory voting yet when a poll goes against them in a country with voluntary voting they pull out the argument that such and such a percentage didn’t vote so somehow it doesn’t count. So the 40% who didn’t vote were all against gay marriage and would have defeated the referendum if there had been compulsory voting, eh? Ridiculous. We heard the same drivel from Fairfax’s Paul Sheehan, the poor man’s Piers Akerman. Oh and by the way, isn’t it funny how we never heard the same argument from these people when only 60% of Britons voted in the recent general election and gave David Cameron and the Conservatives an unexpected majority?

Conservatives are only interested in democracy as a convenient means to an end. i.e. They tolerate it so long as they get their way. If they don’t get their way then they resort to any means available to circumvent it.

dungfungus 7:07 pm 14 Jun 15

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

The facts remain that 40% of Ireland’s eligible voters didn’t vote.

Isn’t it remarkable how conservatives rail against compulsory voting yet when a poll goes against them in a country with voluntary voting they pull out the argument that such and such a percentage didn’t vote so somehow it doesn’t count. So the 40% who didn’t vote were all against gay marriage and would have defeated the referendum if there had been compulsory voting, eh? Ridiculous. We heard the same drivel from Fairfax’s Paul Sheehan, the poor man’s Piers Akerman. Oh and by the way, isn’t it funny how we never heard the same argument from these people when only 60% of Britons voted in the recent general election and gave David Cameron and the Conservatives an unexpected majority?

Another Rioter who ignores the point I made that the media reports of the Ireland referendum not qualifying the fact that 40% of people eligible to vote did not.
I don’t care what happens with so called “marriage equality” but I do care that it is being treated as an issue more important than national security and the economy.

watto23 1:59 pm 14 Jun 15

Grrrr said :

Calls for a referendum on Marriage Equality are silly: The constitution doesn’t need to be changed because it doesn’t disallow it, and doesn’t need to recognise it.

A parliamentary vote will do the job just fine.

Agree and to pass a referendum you generally need more than a majority. And why is this such a big issue that it needs to waste taxpayers money for a referendum. Its really got minimal impact on absolutely everyone else except for gay people. The issue is a small part of society feels they have ownership of marriage, they don’t like homosexuality and thus are flexing their muscles to deny as much as possible to a group of people they don’t like.

Laws are still very much in favour of marriage as well. I know a heterosexual couple who are not married yet. They both have children from previous partners. She has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Its basically been said that they should get married as that will make everything simpler with regards to the children after she has died. So I can imagine if its bad for a couple who can legally get married, imagine the inequity that would apply to a homosexual couple in this situation.

The world isn’t fair, we can’t control who gets cancer, or which country someone is born into, but we can control minor things like allowing people who want to get married to let them marry.

Otherwise i’m happy if laws allow me to discriminate against people of religious faith. If its ok by them, then I’m happy to play that game also. Tax churches for a start.

dungfungus 11:32 am 14 Jun 15

Acton said :

It is surprising to see the rather naïve faith the some people still put in polls.

The poll referred to here
http://www.crosbytextor.com/news/record-support-for-same-sex-marriage/
used a sample size of only 1000 but has the audacity to conclude that “almost three-quarters of Australians (72%) now support legalising same-sex marriage.”
Polls are unreliable as demonstrated quite clearly in the recent UK general election.
The question about changing the Marriage Act is important to many sectors of the community and cannot be based on perceived poll results.
Polls often use small sampling sizes, or unrepresentative samples undermining the credibility of the results.
The major difficulty for polling organisations is getting access to a large representative cross section of the community. How do you contact a large number of random people of all ages, locations, genders, educational, social and ethnic backgrounds to truly reflect the views and diversity of the broader Australian population? Polling organisations used to rely on large phone surveys, but gone are the days when you could use phone books and landlines for representative samples.
Should people’s opinions not count simply because they don’t have an entry in the phonebook?
Even if you can access a representative cross section the next problem is getting people to participate in the poll and to answer all the questions.
Another major difficulty is getting honest answers – answers which truly reflect the views or intentions of those being polled. Some people will give the answers they think the other person wants to hear, or puts themselves in the best light.
A further problem is designing non-leading questions which provide honest answers, rather than questions intentionally or unintentionally eliciting answers the organisation commissioning the poll wishes to receive.
People who self- select to participate in polls generally have strong views one way or the other otherwise they would not have the motivation to be involved. So online polls which rely on self-selected participants can immediately be discounted on the basis of bias which skews the result.
So for such an important question as amending the Marriage Act, it should not be left to Parliament, and it should certainly not be based on polls. It should go to a referendum.
And if you are opposed to a referendum because you think the result won’t support your own view, then that is condoning the dangerous precedent of the minority dictating to the majority. Call it what you like, but it would not be democratic.
I guess it just comes down to whether we trust our fellow Australians to do the right thing. Do we?
Put it to a referendum and find out.

You have said it all.

Grrrr 8:32 pm 13 Jun 15

Calls for a referendum on Marriage Equality are silly: The constitution doesn’t need to be changed because it doesn’t disallow it, and doesn’t need to recognise it.

A parliamentary vote will do the job just fine.

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