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Common arguments against gay marriage (and why they don't hold water)
Jul15

Common arguments against gay marriage (and why they don't hold water)

CREATED ON // Tuesday, 15 July 2014 Author // Troy Chiodo-Gurr

Here are common arguments against marriage equality and why they don't hold water. By Troy Chiodo-Gurr. 

While advocates for gay marriage are expected to explain themselves, those opposed are getting away with a series of trite and unqualified statements that seems to stump the national consciousness into submission. Where’s the follow-up question? Below are the top arguments trotted out by our leaders and appear in the comment section in newspapers around the country. Do their arguments really hold water?

“Gay marriage threatens my marriage”

Gay marriage, apparently, is holding a knife and demanding straight marriage’s wallet. Tony Abbott has even gone so far as to say he feels threatened by homosexuals themselves, like we’re a bunch of street toughs hanging out in pool halls causing trouble. But when they say gay marriage threatens their marriage, what they actually mean is that it devalues their marriage, or that the value of marriage is diluted.

Since gay marriage reared its head, conservatives have circled the wagons in an attempt to maintain the institution’s exclusivity. Marriage is the new Country Club, an opportunity to keep the undesirables out. They like the idea of the gay community pressing their noses against the windows, hoping for scraps. Magnanimously, the ‘haves’ hand over their leftovers, and are appalled when we rebuke their generosity. The gay community has a special word for these half-eaten and incomplete meals – we call them civil unions.

“They can have civil unions, but they can’t call it marriage”

The reluctant compromise, served up by people who don’t want to give it to people who don’t especially want it, either. Civil unions, or Marriage-Lite, are an end-around to the argument by offering poison oak and claiming it’s an olive branch. Civil unions are another way to discriminate, to publicly announce that gay love is less than heterosexual love, not deserving of the marriage title. Imagine asking interracial couples to call their marriage commitment something else. Holding the word “marriage” at arm’s length is an attempt to keep exclusive rights, like boys in forts bearing “no girls allowed” signs. It’s small and petty, like folding your arms at an immigrant after they’ve sworn their citizenship telling them they better not call themself Australian.

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“It’s only a piece of paper”

A lot of things are only a piece of paper. Citizenship certificates, driver’s licences, employment contracts. Subpoenas. If, as these people argue, it’s just a piece of paper, why are they fighting so hard to keep it out of our hands?

And, of course, it’s not just a piece of paper. In 2007, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found that 100 statutes and provisions under federal law discriminated against same-sex couples by using the term 'member of the opposite sex', including aged care, Medicare, adoption, survivor benefits and visas. We’re not just making noise here. These things matter.

“The public support isn’t there”

That’s not how equal rights work. You don’t ask for a show of hands. In 1967, when the US Supreme Court passed the law allowing interracial marriage, public support was less than 20% (Gallup). Even 26 years later, in 1993, support was still less than 50%. Fortunately, the Courts recognised that public sentiment has very little to do with inalienable human rights. Besides, why should the guy next door get a vote on my right to marry my partner? And why am I expected to ask for his permission?

But hey, if we’re going to play the numbers game, let’s play. In 2007, 57% of Australians were in favour of gay marriage. In 2009, it was up to 60%, in 2010 it was up to 62% (Galaxy), and in 2011, Roy Morgan put the number at 68%. But polls are for politicians, and marriage equality is for leaders.

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“I’m gay, and I don’t need gay marriage”

Contrary to popular belief, gay marriage isn’t going to be compulsory, but hey, thanks for looking out for the other gays and lesbians who maybe do. Any other equal rights you don’t care so much about that we can revoke? If you think of anything else, make sure you let us know at the next town hall meeting (if you’re not too busy helping out the religious right at their next bake sale).

“I believe in traditional marriage”

Traditionally, wives were bought and sold. In this country, women could be married off at 12 years of age. Traditionally, divorce was illegal. Fortunately, we got wiser and amended our ‘traditional’ view. There are a lot of traditions we let go of, and holding onto this one is arbitrary at best, bigotry at worst.

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“Marriage is for procreation”

This one’s just too easy, since no one is running around annulling the marriages of childless couples, nor is anyone mandating that married couples bear fruit, but in a left-of-field way, for those who are against gay marriage, this is their primary concern. They’re worried that if we can marry, we can have kids. I hate to break it to you, kiddo, but some of us already do.

“This only affects 1% of the population of Australia”

A lot of things only affect a minority. The Disability Discrimination Act. Bushfires. Unemployment Benefits. A society is judged by how it treats the least among them, not by solely doing a head count before deciding who to care about. While the true number of gay people in Australia will never be known (since there are no real mechanisms for finding out, nor will all gay people admit to being gay, especially given the climate of public and political sentiment), detractors will invariably throw out a made-up statistic or two as proof that our numbers are not enough to warrant the attention.

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“Why do they even need it?”

Aside from the legal rights that marriage affords us (of which there are many), the quickest answer is to read the comments section in your average newspaper the next time a story about gay marriage appears. Read what some people have to say about us – about me, my partner, my friends, my family – and you’ll understand a little better why it matters. I live, love, work and pay taxes in a country that discriminates against me, that allows these ugly, hurtful and hateful things be said about me and my friends, not in the privacy of their own home (where my relationship is expected to stay), but in public by people who, quite simply, don’t like us. Will marriage equality end that? Will this step towards social equality be enough? Probably not.

But man, what a great place to start.

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Troy Chiodo-Gurr

Troy Chiodo-Gurr

Troy Chiodo-Gurr is a freelance writer and the former editor of the gay and lesbian newspaper, MCV.

Comments (5)

  • Barrie

    24 July 2014 at 11:09 |
    Yeah, just love how the advocates for 'equality' don't like different opinions having an equal voice.

    reply

  • Masc wendy

    24 July 2014 at 10:55 |
    I'm so happy to read what you have to say. To be honest I was bracing myself for another round of "let's demonise this queer for having the nerve to disagree with us about gay marriage". So I'm relieved that the first response was yours. It is just absolutely appalling that queers like you and me can be so insulted by people like Troy Chiodo-Gurr and compared to morally corrupt and bigoted christian types, instead of being respected for having our different viewpoint. These equality evangelists don't have any right to demand equality when it's clear their brand of equality is "our way or the highway". Last year in Melbourne some equality evangelists had a stall in the Bourke Street Mall, shouting out their slogans about "Love is Love" and "No Freedom Till We're Equal". I started to talk to one of them about how there are queers who think differently, and before long three of them were literally shouting at me, calling me a homophobe, and saying I should vote for Tony Abbott. One of them called me "literal human scum". I'll never forget it - it was such a revolting, vile display from a bunch of one-issue politics gays against members of their own community. There is a group of queer philosophers, academics, and activists in the USA who have started a campaign called "againstequality [ dot] org" (not sure if web addresses are allowed here so just google them. They are all about enhancing these equality debates with differing viewpoints, so that queers other than those pushing gay marriage can have their politics aired. I'm sick of equality evangelists waving ranbow flags and crying out about diversity and pride when they clearly only want one type of queer allowing into the community: the type who blindly agrees with them. At the very least we should all have access to all of the queer points of view, instead of being constantly represented as a single monolithic group with a single voice and a single thought. I'm so proud to be queer, I love the queer community, I only want the best for all of us. To be insulted in this manner by this Troy fellow is beyond the pale

    reply

  • Masc Wendy

    24 July 2014 at 10:53 |
    I'm so happy to read what you have to say. To be honest I was bracing myself for another round of "let's demonise this queer for having the nerve to disagree with us about gay marriage". So I'm relieved that the first response was yours. It is just absolutely appalling that queers like you and me can be so insulted by people like Troy Chiodo-Gurr and compared to morally corrupt and bigoted christian types, instead of being respected for having our different viewpoint. These equality evangelists don't have any right to demand equality when it's clear their brand of equality is "our way or the highway". Last year in Melbourne some equality evangelists had a stall in the Bourke Street Mall, shouting out their slogans about "Love is Love" and "No Freedom Till We're Equal". I started to talk to one of them about how there are queers who think differently, and before long three of them were literally shouting at me, calling me a homophobe, and saying I should vote for Tony Abbott. One of them called me "literal human scum". I'll never forget it - it was such a revolting, vile display from a bunch of one-issue politics gays against members of their own community. There is a group of queer philosophers, academics, and activists in the USA who have started a campaign called "againstequality [ dot] org" (not sure if web addresses are allowed here so just google them. They are all about enhancing these equality debates with differing viewpoints, so that queers other than those pushing gay marriage can have their politics aired. I'm sick of equality evangelists waving ranbow flags and crying out about diversity and pride when they clearly only want one type of queer allowing into the community: the type who blindly agrees with them. At the very least we should all have access to all of the queer points of view, instead of being constantly represented as a single monolithic group with a single voice and a single thought. I'm so proud to be queer, I love the queer community, I only want the best for all of us. To be insulted in this manner by this Troy fellow is beyond the pale.

    reply

  • Barrie

    24 July 2014 at 10:33 |
    That's a breath of fresh air Wendy. I'm deeply suspicious of how this smug campaign for 'equality' (whatever that's supposed to mean) is being conducted. People talk as if equality is meant to be the natural order of things. The fact it has to be imposed by law shows there's nothing natural about it at all.
    Some of us are old enough to remember the fight for decriminalisation. It took a long time to get the law off our bodies and out of our bedrooms. I never thought in my lifetime we'd go back to the government demanding a law on our private lives. All the more galling that the same excuses are being used - ending homophobia, bullying, suicide etc.
    'Equality' is supposed to make the argument watertight. After all, who's going to argue against equality? Well, with regard to marriage, this Queen says that Emperor has no clothes on!

    reply

  • Masc Wendy

    24 July 2014 at 06:24 |
    Hi Troy, I'm personally offended by this article. I'm referring to your attack on queer people who don't happen to support gay marriage. Your entire premise begins by saying that people who are against gay marriage get all the air play, but remain unchallenged. Whilst you may be qualified to argue against heterosexual, homophobic bigots who hate the idea of gay marriage because they hate gay people, you are far from qualified to attack queer people who hold political views against gay marriage, especially with the way you basically cast us as scumbag traitors who, if we don't support gay marriage, must obviously be against all issues of social justice. Fact it, Troy, there's a sizeable bunch of us queers who do not support gay marriage and who find the rhetoric of gay marriage "equality evangelists" like yourself to be offensive and often based in fallacies. And if you knew your queer history you would know that gay liberation (yes Liberation, Troy) began because queer people specifically wanted to break from the forms and institutions that governed heterosexual life, especially forms like marriage. There are plenty of people who dislike the way equality evangelists connect marriage equality laws with an end to homophobia. There are plenty of people who see the gay marriage agenda to be a mainly white middle class agenda that hardly serves the needs and wants of queers of colour or working queers. There are plenty of people who think the amount of dollars being pumped into the marriage equality movement is obscene, and should be pumped into campaigns and groups that have a direct affect on the lives of queer people everywhere, instead of on the lives of a relatively small group of people who want a marriage certificate. Anyways, the arguments against gay marriage BY queer people are dense and multifaceted, but the way you have painted them is to basically stick us into the same group as bigoted christians. This is incredibly offensive and only shows how little you actually know about the subject despite somehow managing to get an entire page's space to rant about it. If you want to understand alternative queer positions, then get yourself an education first. Google the words "against equality" and start cracking. Nothing worse that modern day queer people who think they know everything but lack the political and ideological understanding that would provide our communities with the dense, intelligent political views it rightfully deserves. Regurgitating tired old slogans for bogans as you have here is a contemptuous disservice to all queers.

    reply

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