The Problem with Gay Marriage

Australia has a serious issue at the moment. The recent referendum for gay marriage in Ireland got a lot of press and it’s sparked a fresh round of advocacy and calls for change to Australian laws. I feel very strongly on this issue. I feel I can no longer stand idly by and witness the slow degradation of my society. The issue is not gay marriage itself. The issue is that we can’t talk about it.

I saw this meme of on facebook today and it epitomised everything wrong with this situation.

GayMarriage

It is the perfect example of intolerance in action. We play with words. We try to make it ‘look’ like we’re right and that there is no real debate to be had. We try to make those who disagree with us ‘sound horrible’ as the picture suggests. We try to make them out to be stupid, ignorant, bigoted, radical, immoral, discriminatory. I’ve got news for you. Those who disagree with you know a lot of things that you don’t and care about many things that you’ve never considered.

I have actually heard quite a few very thought provoking arguments on the question of legalising gay marriage. They have all come from individuals and been expressed in private. In the public sphere however, in an effort to make a point, arguments are taken to the extreme! For example likening gay marriage to interracial marriage, or homosexuality to bestiality. Chances are you will vehemently disagree with at least one of these comparisons since both clearly ignore some fundamental differences. See if you can turn the tables and imagine how someone else might see your comparison as equally nonsensical.

Even the word ‘equality’ is unhelpful emotive propaganda. It is trying to imply that no ‘decent human being’ could be opposed to ‘same-sex marriage’ – or whatever the most neutral term might be. Those who do oppose would never see themselves as ‘anti-equality’, but rather they are ‘pro-family’ or similar. Are those for ‘marriage equality’ therefore ‘anti-family’? Can you see how ridiculous these terms are? And how they stifle any intelligent debate?

My opinion is that making significant changes to our laws requires a discussion. Is it so extreme to say “Hang on, wait, maybe we should talk about this?” Why do I feel like I’m sticking my neck out in the middle of a fight between two extremist groups? And that I’m about to be slammed by both? In such a hostile environment we are positively discouraged from having any kind of rational conversation!

The current situation is clearly not acceptable. Some of the suggested alternatives are equally unacceptable. We have a problem. What do we do?

Let’s stop bickering and start listening. How are we ever going to ‘move forward’ as a country if we can’t even discuss the issues facing us? Would it not be better to talk to each other, try to understand each other and attempt to resolve our differences?

If the law changed tomorrow those ‘for’ would still be ‘for’ and those ‘against’ would still be ‘against’. The fundamental problem of disagreement and intolerance remains.

The real problem is that we can’t talk about it.

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Gay Marriage

  1. Carisse says:

    Hi Paul,
    you make interesting points, but let’s not be naive either: when two groups are fighting, they use the rhetorical tools (or weapons, depending on how tensed it gets!) they can. In an ideal world, we should use some common, agreed-upon, neutral vocabulary but let’s face it: it will never happen (on a large scale at least, maybe with a couple of good friends in private you can have the time and the calm required to establish a common vocabulary before defending your positions).

    Nevertheless, you seem to be quick to demand fairness in vocabulary, finding the word equality “unhelpfull”, on a matter where you have to take into account centuries of inequality. For what I know, gay people have been promised eternal suffering in hell for a long time (and if you are a christian, this is NOT a metaphore, it is actually what will happens to these poor folks: BURNING in flames somewhere). And this is just the “official” position, let’s put aside the nice vocabulary created along the past centuries to describe these people whose only difference is to like something you don’t (sex and hatred always produce so many new words in every languages of the world, put the two together and you get a firework!). So, in all fairness, the fact that pro-gay marriage want to use the word “equality” to defend their position seems to be quite mild in comparison to what is being poured on them.

    As a side note, let’s take your strange statement: “I’ve got news for you. Those who disagree with you know a lot of things that you don’t and care about many things that you’ve never considered.” This ‘I’ve got news for you’ makes it looks like you are taking your own idea only one way. If it is the case, well, I’ve got news for you too: it works the other way as well! People that disagree with you, Paul, may also know lots of things you don’t and care about many things you’ve never considered. Making such a statement is also “unhelpfull”, Paul. Hard to live by what you advise, isn’t it ?

    • Hey Carisse, thanks for your comment.

      I know power plays and dirty tactics are to be expected but I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic wishing the world were a nicer place. It doesn’t seem so difficult for me, if we all just respected each other a little, but I know I’m unlikely to see it in practice on a large scale.

      My belief is that past wrongs are no excuse for future wrongs. So while I acknowledge horrendous treatment of homosexuals in the past (and present too!), fighting fire with fire just makes things worse. Have you heard the saying ‘hurt people, hurt people?’ It’s very natural to pass our sufferings on to others, but in the end this just propagates the cycle of suffering. (perhaps the use of the word ‘equality’ was not a strong example, but it shows how people attempt to avoid discussion by clever use of language)

      You’re right that “I’ve got news for you” definitely works both ways! Discussing anything without this approach of believing the other has something to teach you is, in my view, unproductive and unhelpful. I already knew that tho so it wasn’t news to me 😛 But yes, thanks for the reminder that I can always learn from others!!

      Another benefit of truly understanding someone else’s opinion is that it allows you to better communicate your perspective to them! 🙂

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