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The SSM survey – some thoughts

By John Hargreaves - 11 September 2017 32

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As many of you would know I’m going to vote YES in the survey about same sex marriage. But in thinking about it some more and talking to a range of people I can make a few observations.

This is about two people wanting to celebrate like everyone else their love for and commitment to each other. This ceremony affects no one, other than the couple taking part. In all probability, like many couples these days, the bridal party has been living together for some time before the wedding anyway. And quite possibly have kids about their households.

An aside if I may. Advancing the NO case, that lady who said her son was told that he could wear a skirt to school was objecting to what? She was sprouting the God-bothering mantra without thinking. She should remember that the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Coptic Pope all wear dresses. The Pope’s is a bit ordinary cos it’s just white where the other guys have multi-coloured dresses.

And what about the Royal Scots Guards? The traditional Greek army uniform, the Beefeaters and the Swiss Guards who look after the Pope in the Vatican? Is she going to tell the Fijian Police not to wear a skirt?

She should get real and the advertising intellectual dwarves who thought that zinger up ought to refund the money they were paid.

Back to my other observations. It seems to me that the hoo hah is all about the definition of one word – marriage. So… if I go to a registered marriage celebrant who is not a member of the clergy, I wed my wife in a civil marriage ceremony. We have a civil union. The civil union is called marriage for the purposes of legislation. Some of the NO case adherents say is it ok for people to enter a civil union but not to get married. To me, it is the same thing and their position doesn’t make sense.

Marriage is just a civil union! Hello!

Just as divorce is the undoing of a union and the churches don’t have a say in formalizing divorces do they?

But the waters are muddied when the clergy become a two-headed monster – a professional God-botherer and a civil marriage celebrant. The clergy are appointed as marriage celebrants under the Marriage Act. Their deity didn’t do it. That they choose to meld the two roles doesn’t make the meld right. The clergy doesn’t have a mortgage over the word marriage nor any right to define its meaning.

The funny thing is that people out there and the clergy included, don’t say that they have a mortgage over the terms birth and death.  They recognise that in both cases, the event is registered with the State and any related ceremony is quite and distinctly separate. Indeed the clergy don’t certify either a birth certificate or a death certificate. So why should they claim proprietary ownership of the bit in the middle?

The State registers births, deaths and marriages through a registrar. It is the official record by the State of such happenings and it is such registration which gives legality to a heap of other transactions which can follow. Indeed on a birth certificate it asks the name of the father and mother but doesn’t ask if they are married or indeed in a union.

There is a huge inconsistency here which people seem to be ducking.

So in my mind, this Gumment wants to spend $122 million on whether the definition of marriage is actually just civil union and is asking us whether the non-hetero folks among us can be united in a civil (marriage) ceremony. They are not asking whether they can be united in a religious ceremony cos they have no right to legislate how religious groups conduct their affairs. And the God-botherers know it.

I’m writing this after the High Court delivered its verdict on the legitimacy of the Advance from the Minister for Finance of the $122 million and I’m stunned with the result. Spending money without Appropriation is illegal. Cormann has dodged a bullet.

The Advance must satisfy two tests – that of urgency and that of an unforeseen nature. Blind Freddy can tell you that we all knew that the Gumment wanted a plebiscite, a test of the voters will or intention, a survey of how we all felt. They were spruiking it at the last election. It was not unforeseen.

Urgent? Because they got knocked back twice by the Senate? Perhaps the only urgency is that their noses got bloodied and this is their Custer’s Last Stand. But urgent? Nuh! What will happen if the survey doesn’t go ahead. Bugger all – that’s what!

The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.

But there is a little something that’s got under the radar. If the High Court had ruled that the expenditure was illegitimate (read illegal) the survey wouldn’t have been sent out. Or so the media told us. But hadn’t the survey forms already been printed, the envelopes printed, the software to do the counting upgraded? In other words, hasn’t there been some expenditure already? And this expenditure might have been without Appropriation. Given that the issue wasn’t unforeseen and was not urgent, it was a bit of a gamble on Cormann’s part.  Another bullet dodged.

The Minister for Finance could have OK’d illegal expenditure. This has brought down Gumments before.

One of the naughty things Kate Carnell did when Chief Hamster of the ACT was to take out a loan on the 30th of June to be repaid on 1 July when funds flowed. But in fact, the interest of that overnight loan when paid to the lender was without Appropriation. And I understand that in NSW (perhaps the Commonwealth too) it is a jailable offence. I might be wrong about this but you can see the seriousness of it.

The Gumment said it was all ok cos the rules are that if the Minister for Finance thinks something is urgent and /or unforeseen then they are. If he thinks it is! Say what?

All a bit cavalier to my mind.

This whole thing has been a dog’s brekkie. But think about the position of the Prime Hamster. He figured that if the survey got through, the people will back his YES position. If the High Court knocked it off, he could say to his ultra-righties – Hey guys, not my fault you blew it! Told you so! Ha Ha. He couldn’t lose either way. You could see it written all over his face in QT.

And finally, you don’t get to vote in a survey. It is a non-binding opinion poll. It is not a referendum, not a plebiscite and something being conducted by a statistical agency whose credibility is at an all-time low.

The whole thing fills me with confidence – Not!

PS: for those who say I’m being abusive by calling folks God-botherers, I’ve been doing that for years to describe those who communicate with imaginary friends. Nothing new here.

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
The SSM survey – some thoughts
Blen_Carmichael 6:01 pm 11 Sep 17

John Hargreaves said :

Blen_Carmichael said :

“The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.”

Not a great argument. To say, for example, of an unsuccessful prosecution: “He got off on a technicality” is in effect to say “He got off because the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Incidentally, do you think the intention of the original drafters (who lived in the 19th century) would be to cater for same sex marriage? Still want to go down that route?

The High Court did not rule on the same sex marriage question, it ruled on whther the Minister fro Finance had the legal authority to use $122 million on a survey which he said was unforeseen and urgent.

I never said it did. If you re-read my comments, you will see I was saying you go down a dangerous path holding up the intention of the original drafters as the be all and end all of constitutional interpretation (yes, ‘marriage’ appears in the Constitution). Using that test as your ultimate determiner, what do you think the nineteenth century framers intended to mean by ‘marriage’? Think about it.

bigred 3:27 pm 11 Sep 17

What John has not covered in his somewhat provocative piece is why the state, in a modern secular society, needs to regulate marriage or whatever you want to call it? Seems to me, a wedding is a bit of a party during which two people tell their family and friends about their commitment to each other. It is a social gathering, that has a legal formality attached. All I can see about having a formal marriage certificate and associated entry on a register held by the State is it is harder and more expensive to get out of if it all turns to custard at some stage.

dungfungus 2:46 pm 11 Sep 17

I think Bill Shorten has made a major error in making it Labor policy to support SSM because there is still many older blue collar true believers out there and a lot of them would find SSM repugnant given the times they grew up in. Indeed, it is only recently that Labor Party policy on SSM has changed.

DragonRyda 1:36 pm 11 Sep 17

Sadly, I think the “No” vote has been massively under-rated. I think the Yes group has been more vocal, but there will be a mass of No votes quietly simmering.
I think that the ability of churches to refuse same sex marriage is totally acceptable, and totally irrelevant: If you want to get married, you don’t need a churches permission, you need the governments.
The lack of movement on this shows that democracy in Australia is dead. Government is elected to run the country. This farce is overpriced, inadequate, and irrelevant.

It seems like democracy is dying all around. How in a country as large as the USA you can come down to either Trump or Clinton is mind boggling.

HSewell 12:56 pm 11 Sep 17

John Hargreaves said :

The High Court did not rule on the same sex marriage question, it ruled on whther the Minister fro Finance had the legal authority to use $122 million on a survey which he said was unforeseen and urgent.

True, but in 2013 the High Court decided that the Constitution did allow the federal parliament to pass laws allowing for SSM: The Commonwealth v Australian Capital Territory [2013] HCA 55 (12 December 2013)

wildturkeycanoe 11:51 am 11 Sep 17

John Hargreaves said :

[

Are you saying that my former spouse who I divorced 38 years ago has a call on my estate when I die to the detriment of my current partner, with whom I have lived for the past 35 years?

Not exactly the example of what I was referring to but family disputes over a deceased estate can get quite ugly and I’m sure that adding even more fuel to the fire is not necessarily a good thing.
I just don’t understand why a legal will where a person gives their belongings to a named person, can be overruled by blood relatives and such. Why are the wishes of a deceased person disrespected by both the law and their own family? See, this has nothing to do with marriage or how much and in what way two people love each other, but everything to do with absurd legal challenges to legal documents and processes.
Fix the laws, not the concept or legal definition of marriage.

dungfungus 10:41 am 11 Sep 17

Some sobering information here: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features10July+2013

This debate is about only 1% of the couples living together who identify as “same-sex” and the only additional “benefit” they will receive if the changes to the marriage legislation go ahead is a piece of paper saying “Marriage Certificate”. Like most people I know, I have a couple of these already (so does JH). It’s no big deal. Rainbows don’t last forever.

Gee, the groups representing the Family Law legal firms have been quiet on this issue. This will be the greatest thing for them since Lionel Murphy introduced (the now outrageously expensive) no-fault divorce.

dungfungus 10:21 am 11 Sep 17

John Hargreaves said :

Blen_Carmichael said :

“The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.”

Not a great argument. To say, for example, of an unsuccessful prosecution: “He got off on a technicality” is in effect to say “He got off because the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Incidentally, do you think the intention of the original drafters (who lived in the 19th century) would be to cater for same sex marriage? Still want to go down that route?

The High Court did not rule on the same sex marriage question, it ruled on whther the Minister fro Finance had the legal authority to use $122 million on a survey which he said was unforeseen and urgent.

The only other electorally acceptable option was to have a plebiscite but your mob knocked that back in the Senate. Cost isn’t really the issue.

chewy14 10:18 am 11 Sep 17

John Hargreaves said :

Blen_Carmichael said :

“The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.”

Not a great argument. To say, for example, of an unsuccessful prosecution: “He got off on a technicality” is in effect to say “He got off because the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Incidentally, do you think the intention of the original drafters (who lived in the 19th century) would be to cater for same sex marriage? Still want to go down that route?

The High Court did not rule on the same sex marriage question, it ruled on whther the Minister fro Finance had the legal authority to use $122 million on a survey which he said was unforeseen and urgent.

Yes, and it ruled that the government acted lawfully so your multiple paragraphs about this issue is really just a whinge that they didn’t rule the way you wanted them to because they are your political opponents.

If you have an issue with their legal ruling, perhaps wait to go through the written version when it’s released.

chewy14 10:14 am 11 Sep 17

“Marriage is just a civil union! Hello!”

“This is about two people wanting to celebrate like everyone else their love for and commitment to each other.”

Once again John has highlighted the inconsistency of the supporters of state sanctioned marriage and the wish to change the definition of such. If it’s just a “civil union” as John contends in the first statement above, how can it be reconciled with the second?

What business does the government have registering celebrants to solemnise people’s relationships and “celebrate” their “love” if it’s a solely legal, secular matter?

I agree with John however, that this area should be treated the same way as the registration of births and deaths. Their should be a civil union bill where anyone can register their relationship(s) by filling out some forms and paying a government processing fee.

Then if you want to have a ceremony, party, church service whatever, you are free to do so on your own time. The idea that so many people want increased government involvement in people’s personal relationships is very strange.

John Hargreaves 10:09 am 11 Sep 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

John, your very first assertion that gay marriage affects nobody is wrong. The very reason they want it is the the proof of this. According to the gay community, they want gay partners to have legal rights over estate and medical decisions for their partners. Currently these rights are with former spouses or the family. So the marriage equality debate will affect those spouses and families. What of an ex-spouse whose partner has re”married” into a dame sec relationship and custody disputes arise? The changes to law will affect the outcome because of the legal ramifications. What of birth certificates, if a woman in a same sex relationship has a child but the child wants to have their father listed as the other birth parent and keep in close contact despite the mothers’ wishes, rather than have two mums?
Has anyone actually gone yhrough all the complications this will create for the judiciary?
If deceased estates and power of attorney for medical reasons is all they really want, then change those laws but leave the marriage ones well alone. It’d be more logical than bringing all this “marriage” emotion into it.

Are you saying that my former spouse who I divorced 38 years ago has a call on my estate when I die to the detriment of my current partner, with whom I have lived for the past 35 years?

John Hargreaves 10:05 am 11 Sep 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

“The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.”

Not a great argument. To say, for example, of an unsuccessful prosecution: “He got off on a technicality” is in effect to say “He got off because the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Incidentally, do you think the intention of the original drafters (who lived in the 19th century) would be to cater for same sex marriage? Still want to go down that route?

The High Court did not rule on the same sex marriage question, it ruled on whther the Minister fro Finance had the legal authority to use $122 million on a survey which he said was unforeseen and urgent.

John Moulis 9:04 am 11 Sep 17

I’m voting Yes but I don’t believe the campaign is going well at all. The latest opinion poll suggests that the No vote is gaining ground and if sustained, the survey could be a huge upset and the No vote will win. I believe that this is due to the influence of the shock jocks and the Murdoch tabloids.

Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine are on 2GB and in the tabloids telling readers and listeners that they are being bullied into voting Yes. Gay marriage supporters are being smeared and the intention is to create a Trump and Brexit-style backlash against “The Establishment” and “the elites” who are supposedly cashed up and pushing the Yes case.

We might laugh at this sort of thing but it resonates in the western suburbs and other marginal seats which decide elections in this country.

The fat lady isn’t singing just yet. The Yes case isn’t over the line, the No vote has every chance of winning. The good news is that Bill Shorten has said that he will ignore the result of the survey if it returns a No vote and legalise gay marriage within 100 days of winning office.

If the No vote wins the survey I will be voting Labor for the first time in my life so that Bill can do what is morally right.

wildturkeycanoe 8:13 am 11 Sep 17

John, your very first assertion that gay marriage affects nobody is wrong. The very reason they want it is the the proof of this. According to the gay community, they want gay partners to have legal rights over estate and medical decisions for their partners. Currently these rights are with former spouses or the family. So the marriage equality debate will affect those spouses and families. What of an ex-spouse whose partner has re”married” into a dame sec relationship and custody disputes arise? The changes to law will affect the outcome because of the legal ramifications. What of birth certificates, if a woman in a same sex relationship has a child but the child wants to have their father listed as the other birth parent and keep in close contact despite the mothers’ wishes, rather than have two mums?
Has anyone actually gone yhrough all the complications this will create for the judiciary?
If deceased estates and power of attorney for medical reasons is all they really want, then change those laws but leave the marriage ones well alone. It’d be more logical than bringing all this “marriage” emotion into it.

Blen_Carmichael 7:27 am 11 Sep 17

“The High Court must have ruled merely on the technicalities of the law not the intention of the original drafters.”

Not a great argument. To say, for example, of an unsuccessful prosecution: “He got off on a technicality” is in effect to say “He got off because the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Incidentally, do you think the intention of the original drafters (who lived in the 19th century) would be to cater for same sex marriage? Still want to go down that route?

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