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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being Mr Unpopular

I'm generally a liberal on social issues, tending to the libertarian: that the government's best course of action in social affairs is usually to just keep it's sticky beak out and let people get on with whatever they're doing. So why do I find myself - instinctively - uneasy with the proposition that the term 'marriage' should apply to all couples regardless of gender and sexual orientation? After all it seems everyone else in my peer and age group and across the political spectrum believes the same thing - as evidenced by the campaigning zeal across social media. Even the big newspapers have editorialised in support. Why am I out of step?

When President Obama declared to the world - appropos of nothing it would seem except perhaps for the millions in Democratic Hollywood donations that would flow his way - that same sex couples should be able to marry, my initial reaction was: oh good, just like over here then. Maybe they will copy the NZ legislation that established civil unions? Then John Key came out and, in typically slavish fashion, announced that he too would like to see same sex marriage. Here was the disconnect. Don't we already have that by way of civil unions? What was Key committing himself to?

Apparently civil unions don't go far enough and for most homosexuals it can never go far enough because their agenda, quite naturally, is to socially and legally normalise their lifestyle - an insurmountable task that can never be complete if for no other reason than the inherent visceral repugnancy with which the average heterosexual male considers the male homosexual act. No matter that these things occur in private and well away from the glare of straights, the thought of it is too much. The thought of recognising a relationship between those two people through a civil union finds acceptability however because the term civil union has a neutral, bureaucratic connotation; but the term marriage carries an additional sanctification that does not fit so easily and that is why the proponents of the civil union legislation last decade could not go the whole hog.

I remember watching a documentary a while back about homosexual law reform in the 1980s. I recall a gay man saying this was about the right not to be persecuted, it wasn't, he explained, about marriage or adopting or anything like that... But of course it was really, it was the starting point, the first step. It stuck in my mind I guess because I knew he wasn't being entirely honest about it. There is a next logical step and another one. If GAY means 'Good As You' then that is a fair indication of what the agenda is - beyond tolerance and into social acceptability. I don't think they will ever achieve the complete level of social acceptance they want because of the automatic, hetero male reaction as I described above, and I don't think that legislating can ever bring them that either. Indeed trying to do so is a provocative and antagonistic strategem.

The whole debate seemed to revolve purely around the word marriage - at least for the first few weeks after Key echoed Obama. For me this is crucial. If homosexual couples want to use the word marriage - but without any change in substance from that of a civil union - then what is the point? The campaigners have taken 'Good As You' to the far edge where they now are taking on terms hitherto incompatible with homosexuality. They seek to use the law to change a word whose meaning is clear over time and co-opt it; they are saying that it is something akin to the racism of the American Old South that same sex couples can't use the word marriage. I find this line of reasoning hysterical and slightly Orwellian.

So the first place I went to check is wikipedia. Marriage is defined thus:
Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. Such a union is often formalized via a wedding ceremony. In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to two persons of opposite sex or gender in the gender binary, and some of these allow polygynous marriage. In the 21st century, several countries and some other jurisdictions have legalized same-sex marriage. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity.
It is between a man and a woman. That's the short version you will find in any dictionary. That is everyone's understanding... until the 21st century.

The words connected with marriage seem to be hetero and there is no getting away from the sexual element. Civil Union on the other hand is a modern legal institution that is a form of marriage, but escapes the sexual element. Helen Clark being the main promoter reinforced in the public mind the non-sexual/asexual nature of the civil union concept.

I know people in same sex civil unions and I would refer to them as partners rather than wife/wife, husband/husband. There seems no great disability or even minor disability in same sex couples not being able to use the marriage terms applicable to people who are married. Contrarywise there seems little except the objection of misusing English words to support the status quo, but I am uneasy with the State changing words and terms that are so universally accepted. Create new terms by all means to keep up with modern cultural changes, but I do have some sympathy with those who wonder if twisting the old words to fit new circumstances is appropriate.  So is it all about the use of words and who can and can't have the ability to use them and whether that is a form of illegitimate discrimination?

I think it goes well beyond just a few words here and there.

Louisa Wall (in whose name the bill is) lost me on the same sex marriage issue when she made the mistake of telling the Radio Live audience of what that really meant as far as the homosexual agenda went. It wasn't just about the word it was about adoption... and about same-sex couples receiving state-funded IVF treatment! Well that just floored me. To go from an already wobbly, barely tenable argument of 'it's not fair we can't use the word marriage, spouse, wed etc. to describe our relationship' to 'it's not fair that two women/two men can't get each other pregnant' is so far out on the edge it is in orbit. It is the logical corollary of where she is pushing this and as I said earlier that sort of social acceptance and normality they seek will never arrive and numbers in parliament and legislation permitting these things will never make whatever government-subsidised genetic abomination some scientist cooks up in a lab right. No good will come of that. It is pure selfish, hubris.

What Wall has done is successfully complete the circuit between those who maintain that homosexuality is unnatural and the unnatural act of creating life in the lab.

Wall was on with another guy - an American - who kept pushing the line 'families'. He wasn't saying marriage he was all about family. At one point Wall said that marriages imply children. So is this is a reproductive argument running under the guise of a change to nomenclature?

Anyway, it looks like the numbers will give the bill a chance to go to select committee where all the implications will be gone through.

For the record the arguments for the pro brigade are fairly weak. [My response in brackets]:
• The failure of the law to allow same-sex marriages sends out the message that it is okay to discriminate on the grounds of  sexual orientation and gender and that same-sex partners are not capable of the level of love and commitment associated with marriage. [I call bullshit on this. The gender/sexual orientation line is nonsense - they might as well say that having male and female toilets is discrimination. 'Love' is used over and over again by the campaign as an emotive term, but it means nothing in the context since 'love' is not a legal prerequisite for marriage at present and nor is it something they suggest should be made a qualification. It's rhetoric and poor rhetoric at that.]
• Marriage creates a unique bond between partners and their families from which same-sex partners are excluded. [So marriage is a 'unique' bond? Well it isn't going to be particularly unique once same sex partners are involved is it. And this implies that civil unions are not unique. 'Their families'? - see below.] 
• Marriage provides health and well-being benefits, and security for partners and children, from which same-sex partners and their children are excluded. [But this can be changed by changing the civil union legislation.]
• Marriage will benefit from being seen as less discriminatory and more relevant. [Yeah right. Marriage already has a Christianised stigma in NZ and that is why some prefer civil unions.]
• Polls show about 65% of New Zealanders support marriage equality and 75% believe it is inevitable. [Not arguments, just trends and stats. Someone could just as well argue that all the American states passing acts against same-sex marriage is a trend of inevitability].

[UPDATE: Banks - you little slut:
ACT leader John Banks has confirmed rumours he will vote for Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Equality Bill - at least on its first reading.
The private member's bill, popularly known as the gay marriage bill, comes before the house tomorrow.
"I can confirm that Mr Banks will be supporting the bill to first reading," the ACT leader's press secretary told NBR.
"We have no further comment."
In 1986, Mr Banks voted against the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Today's announcement is the second right-on turn taken by the right wing politician recently. In July, he strongly backed another pet liberal cause - saving the whales.
With Mr Banks refusing to discuss his conscience vote, pundits will be left to fill in the blanks. Certainly, both his backing of gay marriage, and his support of whales, could sin him support in his electorate, which takes in the wealthy but relatively liberal Auckland suburbs of Epsom and Mt Eden.
One-time ACT MP aspirant and blogger Cathy Odgers, aka Cactus Kate, predicted on July 28 that Mr Banks would support the bill in a bid to leave a legacy. His anti-gay comments from the 1980s were "a large part of stuffing the ACT Party," Ms Odgers says.]

[UPDATE: 29/08/2012
I know it looks to the casual observer as though I've got my over-sized Contrarian Hat on with a big half-drunken mug of frothing bigot juice in one hand and a well thumped Bible in the other with an issue of Repressed Closet Queers Monthly wedged between my buttocks, but that's not the case - but I know that is what it must look like. It pains me to find I may be on the same side as the conservative Christians. So just to be clear, I don't hold religious objections and nor do I think the state's current marriage arrangements are particularly deserving of any special reverence either - after all the government banned indigenous marriage in the 1950s and that left us in the situation we are in where the state asserts control of the marriage institution absolutely. It isn't the perfect situation. 'Marriage' and 'Civil Union' are just basically a bit of paper stamped by a government official after all; and with the extension of the Matrimonial Property Act to everyone who lives together for a few years the distinctions are being blurred. This however is also evidence of the Christian's main gripe that the traditional form of marriage is being undermined. But once again, just to be clear: I am not religious.]


At 28/8/12 5:05 pm, Blogger frances jane said...

I thought this "gay marriage" stuff was a big, fat, red herring designed to distract the human world (and it seems to be working, doesn't it?) from the awful realities of globalist bankster wars.

At 28/8/12 10:01 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

@ Francis jane . As usual ... your right .

At 29/8/12 8:51 am, Blogger countryboy said...

Re @ frances jane . Please let me correct an almost unforgivable spelling error in my previous post . ' As usual ... YOU'RE right . ' My apologies .

@ Tim . Excellent post and I have to say I agree with you too .
Why this sudden interest in whether Gay people can be married or not , or perhaps more correctly whether it's reasonable and appropriate to use the term ' marry ' within the confines of it's historic meanings by Satanic neo liberal greed monsters ?

What are they up to ?

Word ( and concept ) changing is indeed a worrisome thing , and so why ? There's nothing that neo liberals say or do that isn't a cloaked agenda hidden behind a complex web of deceit for profit .

Wait ! I have it ! For the few seconds it took to write this , while I was pondering Gay and Marriage I forgot about that evil slapper Bennett and her attempts to normalize intruding into the lives of the most at risk .
Yeah , frances jane . You've nailed it .

At 29/8/12 12:54 pm, Blogger FreshyNZ said...

Thanks Tim. Great to read a different perspective on a "lefty" site. I largely agree with your comments on changing the term "marriage". The State should get out of regulating marriage and make everyone get civil unions. Because that's all the State really does today isn't it? Enforcing a civil contract. That way the State will not be discriminating against same-sex couples.


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