Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Some light rather than heat on non-standard marriages

… otherwise known as “gay marriage” and the focus of much heated debate on both sides. However, do look at the discussion that has started between Jim Belshaw (from a somewhat conservative but far from homophobic perspective) and Marcellous on this topic. I am not joining in as I feel outclassed by both of them. However, go there for a refreshingly hysterics-free — and non-theological — exchange of views.

A trained policy analyst and a barrister on the case. Interesting.


Check The Rabbit’s comment on Marcel’s post, and Jim Belshaw’s excellent follow-up.

M[arcel] is a very clever man. I tried to choose my words carefully in my post.

I wrote: I do not support gay marriage. M[arcel] responded: Now Jim is a careful writer. I do not read this as meaning that he opposes gay marriage, merely that he does not support it.

Now M[arcel] in his forensic way pinged me very exactly here. I am not opposed to gay marriage. Far from it. I have some good friends who are gay, in loving relationships, and who deserve the types of rights and protections afforded by marriage. As M[arcel] also recognised, I was making a different point, in fact several points. I now want to tease these out a little more, in so doing responding to some specific points made by M[arcel].

Modern Australia is a complex society, far more complex than the Australia in which I grew up. Further, it has undergone a process of rapid change during which whole sets of previously accepted values have been torn down. Now we have a very mixed society in terms of attitudes and values. Further, there are people in that society who feel like Rome after sack by the barbarians.

My point there, Jim, is while I hear what you are saying it is desperately, desperately needed that we learn to live with — and are educated for — ambiguity and uncertainty, and hold our opinions with due tentativeness. (Buddhists and Taoists would not at all be fazed by this…)

I will update as further developments occur in the debate. (And yes, I have addressed it: use the search engine. 😉 ) What I like about both Jim and Marcel is their mutual respect and clarity, and some genuine fresh insights seem to me to be surfacing. The Rabbit’s contribution is certainly fresh; I am still wondering what I think of it though…

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Written by Neil

October 29, 2007 at 12:13 am

One Response

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  1. I agree with the Rabbit. Take the state out of marriage altogether. I know a gay activist from Utah who said that he was beginning to see the possibilities of a political alliance on this issue. Legal polygamy, like legal gay marriage, would “hurt” other people because it dilutes what they see as the definition of the holy sacrament of marriage: the union of one man and one woman. I don’t see any point in trying to downplay the subjective pain that this causes to conservative religious people, nor do I think that it’s the role of the legislature to try and educate them out of their prejudices. But that pain would only be felt because the universalising laws of the state would lump the traditional man/woman sacrament, polygamy and gay marriage into the single legal category of “marriage.”

    If, as The Rabbit suggests, the state doesn’t recognise any marriages, this gets rid of most of the problem. It is much easier to accept the existence of something you see as abhorrent if the state isn’t actively endorsing it. Marriage would then become the domain of churches and private agents who would be free to impose whatever strict standards they wished in order to certify it.

    David Smith

    October 30, 2007 at 1:21 pm

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