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Friday, March 6, 2009

Same-sex marriage – need we have this black and white style argument again?

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Written August 31, 2008

Why should GOVERNMENT legislation stop love?

One need not look hard to find parallels between the black rights movements of the 1800s and early 1900s and the gay rights movements that are growing in strength today. Both campaigns ask for the same kinds of privileges that the majority takes for granted; governmental privileges, acceptance by society and marriage acknowledgement, the latter being one of the strongest debates. The two main players in the gay marriage debate are religion and human rights; protecting the religious sanctity of marriage as being between a man and a woman, versus the human rights argument that homosexuals cannot help being so and restricting their rights to marriage is nothing short of discrimination.

Marriage started out as a religious ceremony steeped in tradition, but in recent times has broadened and can now solely be for the purpose of a display of love and commitment, without the religious symbolism. However, the fact that marriage is a religious ceremony means that the particular religion an individual follows can make its own rules in regards to it. Gays who have been brought up with a religion that teaches gay marriage to be illicit have a conflict between their sexual orientation and their religion. At this many would just say “well change to being heterosexual then and follow god!”, but this is an argument that ignores one crucial fact – gays do not choose to be gay. There is a one in ten chance that a person is born gay, this is as a result of testosterone levels during development in the womb and a gene on the X chromosome, all these affecting the way in which the brain of the adolescent develops. So gays cannot change to being heterosexual, no more than heterosexuals can change to being gay, but if they don’t then they will not be accepted by their religion which has taught marriage to be between a man and a woman.

Marriage is controlled by the government and membership of a religion is controlled by the individual church. Australia’s founding was not based on religious principals, like the founding of many other countries was, so why is the government discriminating people for the sake of religious influence? If a particular religion chooses not to accept same-sex marriage then so be it! Why should gay people of other backgrounds that accept the ceremony suffer as a result?

The Anglican Church is looking at splitting over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. However, if this happens Australian Anglican gays will still be barred from marriage because the other group said no to the government. If your neighbours decides to paint their living room in a colour that you really hate you are powerless to stop them because it doesn’t affect you, in fact you may not even ever know! This situation is exactly the same as that of gay marriage; if a group of homosexual people, whose sexual orientation does not affect you wish to get married, how does this affect you? They may be in Perth and you in Melbourne, how do they pose any threat to you and your sexual orientation and religious beliefs? Gayness is not contagious and if their religion said no then they wouldn’t have been married in the first place; where is the threat?

Just as in the black rights debates, gays are no more a threat to society and religion than any other person, so why stop them from doing what every other person has the right to do? The government’s position on same-sex marriage is not only based on groundless arguments but is also a form of discrimination. In years to come we will look back on this stance with disgust, just as we do now at the discrimination of blacks.

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