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Debate: Same-sex Marriage

An in-depth exploration into the differing opinions of same-sex marriage in Australia

 Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius and FreeDigitalphotos.netImage courtesy of Serge Bertasius and FreeDigitalphotos.netMarriage between two women or two men is illegal under Australian law as ‘marriage’ is recognised as a “union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others” (Marriage Act 1961). People of the LGBT community are often subject to mixed responses within society. As a married woman in a heterosexual relationship, here is my response to those against same-sex marriage.

 

 

 

 

Argument: Same-sex marriage will ruin the image of family, marriage & civilisation

Response:  Some media outlets, religions and politics have scared some citizens into believing that. However, based on the laws below the only limitation currently in place for the LGBT community is not having the right to wed as this community already have access to adoption processes, and receiving Centrelink payments as a couple.

  • 1972, South Australia became the first state to legalise LGBT, which began a process of updating legislation and laws in all states to decriminalise the relationship (Bull et al 1991).

  • The Sex Discrimination Act (1976) prevented people from being treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation.

  • In 2009, Centrelink formally recognised same-sex relationships as de facto (Centrelink 2009).

  • The recognition further introduced same-sex parents to being able to adopt and have their children recognised by law as members of a family with either two female or two male parents (Adoption Act 2000).

 

Argument: “We shouldn’t legalise same-sex marriage, because it’s the way it has always been... and LGBT is not the way nature intended”

Response: These perspectives are common, have been socially constructed and usually do not refer to times earlier than the previous two hundred years recognised by law. As Vanita (2005) explains, the negative perception of the LGBT community was established in modernised society; as the union of two males in marriage has previously existed in ancient Greece and Rome. Traditional perspectives are products of modernity and do not recognise prior eras when same-sex marriages were accepted.

 

Argument: The Bible says that marriage is a religious ceremony and therefore should only involve wedding males to females.

Response: Many people, including politicians recognise Australia to be dominantly Christian and for marriage to be a religious ceremony. Catholicism and the Church of England define marriage to be between a man and a woman; however the differing cultural backgrounds of newlyweds have slowly become tolerated (Vanita 2005). For instance, interreligious, interracial and remarried couples are now commonly accepted (Vanita 2005).  The naive ideas Christianity upheld were used to justify prejudice. If the church now perceives racial discrimination wrong, perhaps in the future they will also tolerate same-sex marriage. Some religious leaders have already overcome their religion’s stance on the matter and would be willing to marry same-sex couples, if law permitted.

 

 

Argument: Christianity does not support same-sex marriage

Response: We are a multicultural country. Therefore, various religions, cultures and lifestyles are present in Australia. Whilst we are still recognised as a predominantly Christian country, the presence of various belief systems including Hinduism and those who are Atheist should not be subject to Christian ideologies, especially as it imposes superiority over their beliefs. Hindu followers, by the authority of their religion, are able to marry a person of the same sex, as gender is not specifically noted (Vanita 2005). Additionally, many people in postmodern society perceive marriage to have little religious meaning, fostering that the union is about a loving, exclusive commitment to one another (Maley 2001). For instance, an Atheist whom wishes to marry into a same-sex relationship is not obligated by religion and may perceive wedlock to be about announcing a lifelong commitment (Ferguson 2008). Subjecting Australian’s to Christian values ignores the presence of alternate religions and values. Therefore, for Australia to successfully be a multicultural country, religion must be disregarded and same-sex marriage allowed.

 

Argument: Same-sex parenting deprives children of basic kin relations.

Response: People within the LGBT community are capable of raising a family. Despite society perceiving same-sex parents to raise deviant children, studies show that gender does not provide essential techniques to child rearing (Biblarz & Stacey 2010). Comparing children of lesbian and heterosexual couples, no variation was exposed in the child’s development (Biblarz & Stacey 2010). Additionally, Maley (2001) states, same-sex parents do not impact their child’s mental health or sexual orientation. As families with same-sex parents already exist and prove to serve their purpose, legalising same-sex marriage would have no impact on the role of the family.

 

Argument: Homosexuality is wrong, Gay Men are promiscuous and Lesbians are violent

 Response: Stereotypes of the gay community give reason for members of society to discriminate against the idea of same-sex marriage. These specific stereotypes incorrectly imply that the exclusivity of marriage and the expectation to love and care for a partner will not exist within wedlock between people of the same sex. These naive stereotypes ignore that adultery and domestic violence commonly exist within heterosexual couples. Stereotypes derive from misunderstanding people’s differences and are often adopted through the socialisation process. The misconceptions shared amongst some citizens were also once commonly influenced by religious institutions. Unfortunately, the effect of this has presented high rates of ‘hate crimes’ where women and men are victimised based on their sexuality (George 2008). The stereotypical ideas of the gay community fuels reason to why people are against same-sex marriage.

 

Did you know: Countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada have legalised same-sex marriage without significant problems (Vanita 2005; Kubasek & Glass 2008). In Canada, politicians decided that the law was separate from religious values, and for any religion to forbid such wedlock could rightfully do so within their church (Kubasek & Glass 2008). Therefore, Canadian law, uninfluenced by religion, allowed multicultural beliefs and values to flourish, maximising equality and thus quality to life (Kubasek & Glass 2008). Yet, Australia claims to be the ‘fair go’ country – go figure!

 

Enabling same-sex couples to certain entitlements and preventing discrimination through law, contradicts the government’s own prejudice of not allowing same-sex marriage. The continuous debate amongst Australians will never be ended unless Australia attempts to adopt the strategy Canadian politicians have and at least give it a go; after all they will never know the full impact unless they try.