Saturday 12 March 2011

Saturday SoapBlog: Rodney Croome - Do you take this man...

Marriage, but not as we know it.

Legal recognition of gay couples has occurred in most western countries, the most notably exception being USA and Australia. New Zealand has had discriminatory law reform since the mid-80s, and civil unions for near on seven years. So what's the big deal?

Rodney Croome is probably Australia's leading critic of successive governments to not move ahead with full legal recognition of same-sex couples. As campaign co-ordinator of the Australian Marriage Equality, Croome has been at the forefront of this divisive issues for many years. In today's SoapBlog, for Rodney, it's not only time, is overdue for gay 'marriage' to be sanctioned in Australia. What's the big deal?

The movement for marriage equality is under attack from right and left.

Opponents of the governing arrangement between Labor and the Greens have beaten up fears that a Green proposal to give the territories greater legislative power will lead to "radical social experiments" like "gay marriage". This conveniently ignores three important facts.

Under the Greens proposal federal parliament will retain ultimate control over territory law. The ACT Labor and the ACT Greens have only ever proposed civil unions, not same-sex marriage legislation like their peers in Tasmania and South Australia. This is a crucial difference. Civil unions do not carry the same meaning or provide the same legal security as marriage and can never be a substitute for allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Thirdly and most importantly, over 60% of Australian, including a majority of blue collar workers, men and Coalition voters, support this "radical social experiment".
But why let reality get in the way of the kicking the homosexual can all the way back to either a socially conservative Labor Government or a Coalition Government?

I am reminded of the way opponents of the very first Labor / Green accord - in Tasmania in 1989 - viciously attacked Green support for the decriminalisation of homosexuality on the basis that it would lead to "gay marriage". They failed to stop moves toward decriminalisation or drive a wedge between the accord partners. I suspect they will fail again today.

The attack from the left is just as strident if a little lower profile.

People like Dennis Altman and Helen Razer have recently dismissed the idea of same-sex marriages. They think gay people are too sexually creative to be constrained by marriage, and believe "there's nothing truly progressive" (to use Razer's words) about allowing same-sex couples to marry.

I doubt they'd say this about the struggle of Australian Aborigines or African Americans to marry the person of their choice.

Those struggles were obviously progressive because they were struggles against inequality, prejudice and the kind of stereotypes that say members of minorities are too infantile to make important life decisions for themselves. The struggle for same-sex marriage is the same struggle.
The mistake made by people like Altman and Razer is they believe marriage is more conservatising than it really is and same-sex partners are more radical than they really are.

Marriage today is not the one-size-fits-all cultural monolith it once was. Thanks to social acceptance of de facto relationships, contraception and divorce, partners are now freer to choose for themselves if and when they marry, how to conduct their marriage and if and when to end it.

With growing tolerance of same-sex relationships, same-sex partners are increasingly integrated into mainstream society. Broad-scale studies show our relationships are utterly unremarkable and conventional. We are more concerned with mortgage payments and our kids' school than being the vanguard of the sexual revolution.

The social reality behind the demand for marriage equality is that the attitudes of the Australian people, the nature of marriage, and the lived experience of same-sex couples have all evolved and converged at the point where same-sex marriages now make sense.

These developments have left some social conservatives and some sexual liberationists behind. I can understand their anxiety at discovering the world has moved on, but I can't share it.
Australia will be a happier, more equal, and more inclusive society when the love and commitment between same-sex partners is legally acknowledged.

Anyone who begrudges this has to ask themselves if their values are really serving them as well as they thought.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Mike, don't stress, it shouldn't be too long coming now if people like Helen Razer are considered to be vocal opposition. I mean she was scientifically proven to be a delusional idiot years ago, wasn't she?

I totally agree with your point on the straw man argument that marriage is a driver of conservative values or, on the other side of the coin, gay couples in general are more radical than they really are. Most gay couples I'm friends with (here we go, "some of my best friends...") who are in relationships are more stable, caring and loyal than the vast majority of straight partnerships. LOL, my verification code is "luvies".