Yes!

Does Australia Have A Government Yet?

I am not disappointed by the choice, although I would have been happy to see Tony Abbott as our PM. In the current context, to be handed government is to be handed something of a poison chalice.

One aspect of the new government actually frightens the willies out of me, and that is the possibility of a private members bill from Adam Bandt (Greens) for same-sex marriage. According to the new agreement it would get a hearing. However, also according to the new agreement, it would have to go to a Parliamentary Committee because it would be regarded as a “controversial” piece of legislation. What are the chances, do you think, of the current parliament voting something like this in? Certainly it would find the support necessary in the Senate after next July, with 10 Greens Senators holding the balance of power. The real question is, would it find 76 (or more) supporters in the lower house?

Advertisements

106 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

106 responses to “Yes!

  1. Peter Golding

    David,do you think MP’s will get a conscience vote on this issue or be forced to vote on party lines?

    • Peregrinus

      Couple of points:

      1. From what I have read, the ALP/Greens deal does not commit the government to supporting, or even having a debate about, same-sex marriage.

      2. But it does require the Prime Minister to consult regularly with the Greens about the government’s legislative agenda. So there will be plenty of opportunity for the Greens to put the case to government for introducing a same-sex marriage bill as a government measure, or for making space on the parliamentary timetable for a private member’s bill on the subject to get a debate.

      3. I very much doubt that the ALP would introduce, or facilitate, gay marriage unless they judged it to be advantageous to themselves (in which case, of course, they would do so even if the Greens weren’t pressing for it). But they might feel it advantageous to allow a parliamentary debate on the subject (and to allow a Green, rather than an ALP member, to introduce the private member’s bill).

      4. Because the agreement doesn’t deal with gay marriage, it doesn’t bind the government to allowing a free vote on any gay marriage bill. I think they almost certainly would, though. It’s very, very hard to see either of the main parties applying a whip to require members to vote for gay marriage (if only because if they did there would certainly be backbench rebels in either party who would vote against). And it’s hard to see the ALP facilitating a debate on the topic, and then applying a whip against; the same result could be acheived, at a much lower political cost, by simply not having the debate. So, if there is a debate, there will be a free vote, at least on the government side.

      5. That will embarrass the Coalition (which, at least partly, would be the object of the exercise). There is much support for gay marriage on the Coalition backbenches, and among Coalition voters. Applying a whip when other parties are allowing a
      conscience vote would not be a good look, and would annoy a not insignificant minority of Coalition MPs and voters. I think if there is a debate and the government allows its members a conscience vote, the opposition will too.

      6. Perhaps I’m reading you wrongly, but your question seems to imply that you think that gay marriage is not likely to pass on a conscience vote. If that is your view, I disagree. If party whips are applied, the major parties will whip against gay marriage. Gay marriage’s only prospect of passing is if the major parties allow a conscience vote, and my judgment – for what it is worth – is that it has a realistic chance of passing in that circumstance. On most social issues, pollies as a whole tend to be more liberal than the voters as a whole, and gay marriage has enjoyed consistent majority support in public opinion polls for quite a number of years now.

      • Alexander

        I don’t see it the same way you do, Peregrinus. Parties will be hunting for every preference they can possibly get, especially the 5% of SAns whos voted FFP. Both parties also went to the election with clear promises not to touch marriage. *Something* motivated both Abbott and Gillard to oppose gay marrigae before to do that…

        Thing is, marriage in Australia is I think almost entirely a cultural institution, not a legal one. What rights to married couples have that unmarried ones don’t have after a few years of being defacto?

        Also, what leads you to say that pollies are more liberal than voters as a whole? I’ve always supposed it was the opposite, although maybe that’s just because they tend to be older on average.

        • Peregrinus

          “Both parties also went to the election with clear promises not to touch marriage. *Something* motivated both Abbott and Gillard to oppose gay marriage before to do that…”

          Yes, and look what happened. The Labor Party lost a slew of votes. The Coalition did better, but not as well as it should have done, and would expect to do, when the ALP was shedding votes so badly. For every three votes the ALP lost, the Coalition gained only one. The other two went to the Greens. And we know where they stand on same-sex marriage, don’t we?

          Now, in fairness, I don’t think that same-sex marriage was an issue that drove the votes of many people, or even that it drove the decisions of many people who switched their vote from the last time round. Lots of people have views on same sex marriage (one way or the other); I think that not so many prioritise it over all other matters to the point that it effectively dictates their vote.

          Still, it’s undeniable that the party which is most positive toward same-sex marriage is also the party that had the best election. If Abbott’s and Gillard’s stance against same-sex marriage was a strategy to cement or pick up votes – a slightly cynical view, particularly as applied to Mr Abbott, but let’s run with it – then it is a strategy they will now be reevaluating.

          As I say, for a fair number of years now all the opinion polls have shown a significant majority in favour of same-sex marriage. We can’t complain that our politicians are too poll-driven, and then expect them to ignore this evidence for ever.

          I suspect that up to now the pollies have calculated that, while opponents of same-sex marriage are a minority of the population as a whole, among those whose votes are likely to be influenced by policy on same-sex marriage they are a majority. But my impression is that the pro-same-sex marriage view, which has had the numbers for some years now, has recently been gathering the strength and the passion that it will need if it is to prevail. People who favour same-sex marriage now seem to me to do so more passionately, or at least some of them do. They have a great sense that The Time Has Come. I may be wrong, but I think pollies will react to that.

          Also, what leads you to say that pollies are more liberal than voters as a whole? I’ve always supposed it was the opposite, although maybe that’s just because they tend to be older on average.
          More liberal on social issues. Pollies, for example, for many years have rejected the death penalty in free votes – so frequently, and so decisively, that they rarely bother to vote on the issue now; it is comprehensively settled – at a time when opinion polls consistently showed a majority in favour of the death penalty.

          Why are they more liberal? Perhaps because they are more middle-class.

          • Essentially I agree with you Pere.

            This is new territory in many ways, but if the effect of a private members bill is that is works like a conscience vote, I think some sort of gay marriage bill will get in by a good majority and the only people who’ll oppose it will be those on the right of the Coalition (I’m not sure that is as true of Labor — Gillard may offer token opposition to appear to be consistent with her pre-election statements).

            In the previous parliament it was an issue that Labor may have been inclined to be in favor of — I simply can’t believe that a woman living in ‘sin’ is against it for reasons of principle! –but wouldn’t have been game to risk. Now I can imagine it can be voted for with little political downside.

            • Gareth

              Pere: There is much support for gay marriage on the Coalition backbenches, and among Coalition voters.

              Gareth: Since when????

              • Gareth

                Pere: But my impression is that the pro-same-sex marriage view, which has had the numbers for some years now.

                Gareth: Since when???

                Pere: at a time when opinion polls consistently showed a majority in favour of the death penalty.

                Gareth: Huh??

                • Tony

                  A Galaxy Poll taken last year provides one snapshot:

                  – Same-sex marriages are legal in a number of countries, such as the US, Canada, Spain, Belgium and South Africa, however these marriages are not recognised by Australian law. The majority (58%) of Australians agree that Australian law should recognise these marriages in the same way it recognises opposite-sex marriages from these countries (28% strongly agree, 31% agree). Conversely, 36% disagree (20% strongly disagree, 16%
                  disagree).
                  – Females (65%) are more likely to agree than males (51%). Australians aged 16-24 years (73%) are more likely
                  to agree than those aged 25-34 years (69%), 35-49 years (66%) or 50 years and over (43%).
                  – Those who vote for the Greens (74%) or the ALP (63%) are more likely to agree than those who vote for the
                  Coalition (49%). Amongst Coalition voters, around the same proportion agree (49%) as disagree (47%).
                  – Three in five (60%) of Australians agree that same sex couples should be able to marry in Australia (27%
                  strongly agree, 34% agree). This is higher than the 36% who disagree (21% strongly disagree, 14% disagree).
                  – Again, females (68%) are more likely to agree than males (53%). Australians aged 16-24 years (74%) are more
                  likely to agree than those aged 25-34 years (71%), 35-49 years (68%) or 50 years and over (45%). Those who
                  vote for the Greens (82%) or the ALP (64%) are more likely to agree than those who vote for the Coalition
                  (50%).

                  So, if this is a reasonble indicator of attitudes, almost half of Coalition voters support the idea of gay marriage.

                  If these figures are reflected in the parliament, then gay marriage legislation will have no trouble getting through. I suspect if a private member doesn’t bite the bullet and attempt to get this through soon, they certainly will when the new Senate comes into play.

                  • Gareth

                    A Galaxy poll commissioned by the Australian ‘Marriage Equality’.

                    I am sure they are fair and balanced Tony, not.

                    I have no doubt that a true indication of the views of Australians carried out by with truly indepedent body and with neatral questions would reveal that the majority of Australians support marriage as being between a man and women.

                    Hence the real reason for Julia Gillard’s stance.

                    It is time Australians stood up against this blantant propaganda being used as facts in our newspapers.

                    Most importantly, Catholics should stand up against this sacred institution being rubbished.

                    • Tony

                      The poll stands or falls on its merits, Gareth, no matter who commissions it.

                      Notwithstanding that, I’d tentatively suggest that a Galaxy poll has a lot more going for it than ‘I have no doubt …’.

                      I interpreted your response to Pere as looking for evidence of a broad attitude. I provided it. Your counter-response is to cast doubt on that evidence because of who commissioned it and to assert that you know better.

                      I may be going out on a limb here, but presumably that would be the case for all polls that took a different view to you.

                    • Gareth

                      Grow Up Tony.

                  • Gareth

                    Tony: I suspect if a private member doesn’t bite the bullet and attempt to get this through soon, they certainly will when the new Senate comes into play.

                    Gareth: So what are you going to do about this offence to God Tony?

                    • Tony

                      So what are you going to do about this offence to God Tony?

                      That assumes I believe it’s an offence to God, Gareth.

                      It may come as a complete shock to you, but I don’t.

                    • Gareth

                      Mmm Tony, you dismiss my views because I suggest that a highly biased poll commissioned by a highly biased group is dubious (I would say that is good critical thinking on my behalf) and that from my experience I believe that the majority of Australian are as a matter of fact opposed to homosexual marriage (not a hard fact to disprove considering Julia Gillard’s and Penny Wongs stance) and yet you then suggest that you know better than God???

                      What you believe is good for you but is irrelevant here because as Catholics we believe that God has laid out his plan and moral code for mankind and this can not be argued with, neither mocked.

                      We are not discussing warped views here, but the eternal truth of God.

                    • Tony

                      Mmm Tony, you dismiss my views …

                      No, I haven’t dismissed your views, I’ve disagreed with them.

                      … because I suggest that a highly biased poll commissioned by a highly biased group is dubious …

                      You haven’t established that the poll was biased, you’ve just asserted it.

                      (I would say that is good critical thinking on my behalf) and that from my experience I believe that the majority of Australian are as a matter of fact opposed to homosexual marriage …

                      I’m not questioning your experience, I just don’t think it represents a broad view.

                      My evidence is polling and I’ve provided an example. You assert that the poll is biased and counter it with reflections about your own personal experience.

                      (not a hard fact to disprove considering Julia Gillard’s and Penny Wongs stance)

                      Not sure what you’re getting at there.

                      … and yet you then suggest that you know better than God???

                      Did I? Where?

                      What you believe is good for you …

                      It makes very little difference to me. I’m not gay.

                      … but is irrelevant here because as Catholics we believe that God has laid out his plan and moral code for mankind and this can not be argued with, neither mocked.

                      And Catholics, in particular, and Christians, in general, have different views. Having different views doesn’t constitute ‘mocking God’.

                      We are not discussing warped views here, but the eternal truth of God.

                      So you say.

                    • Gareth

                      Tony: I’m not questioning your experience, I just don’t think it represents a broad view.

                      Gareth: I disagree – I stand by my assessment that contrary to biased polls commissioned by biased organisations, the majority of Australians believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

                      Tony: Did I? Where?

                      Gareth: I stated a view based on Scripture and therefore God’s word (being God views marriage as between a man and a woman and any such legislative change to the contrary would offend Him), to which you stated that is not your belief. I therefore can take from such a statement that you have a belief contrary to what God has outlined and would know better than Him???

                      What I am saying is if there is something that Scripture says that is not right, can it please be outlined?

                      Tony: And Catholics, in particular, and Christians, in general, have different views.

                      Gareth: It is ok to have a ‘different’ view.

                      What is not ok is it to claim in any way that it is the official view of the Catholic Church or what God has outlined in Scripture/Church’s teachings etc.

                      Therefore such a response that a certain personal belief contradicts what God outlays is not out of place.

                      At the end of the day, what really only matters is God’s truth.

                    • Tony

                      I disagree – I stand by my assessment …

                      Fine. I stand by mine too.

                      … I therefore can take from such a statement that you have a belief contrary to what God has outlined and would know better than Him???

                      No Gareth. I have a belief contrary to yours.

                      What I am saying is if there is something that Scripture says that is not right, can it please be outlined?

                      Have you read Leviticus? Do you, for example, think that ‘Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess, provided you buy them from among the neighboring nations’ (25:44) or ‘A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death’ (21:9)?

                      What is not ok is it to claim in any way that it is the official view of the Catholic Church or what God has outlined in Scripture/Church’s teachings etc.

                      I’ve only ever spoken for myself, Gareth.

                    • Gareth

                      Tony: No Gareth. I have a belief contrary to yours.

                      Gareth: The viewpoint expressed that marriage is not between a man and a woman is contradictory to that of the Catholic Church and therefore Jesus Christ, Tony.

                      Marriage is between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is a sin. No arguements – it is all in the Bible.

                      It is arrogant to dismiss an official teaching of the Catholic Church or Scripture as merely someone’s opinion.

                    • Tony

                      Homosexuality is a sin. No arguements – it is all in the Bible.

                      That’s not official teaching, Gareth.

  2. Alexander

    In the current context, to be handed government is to be handed something of a poison chalice.

    I tend to disagree with that assessment. Independent-supported minority governments seem to be quite successful in recent decades. The independents tend to force “open government” and the difficulties in getting legislation passed tend to force a more consensus-driven polity. In order to make any ground, I think the Opposition will need to actively present themselves as a Government in waiting.

    And if Labor had’ve lost the election, they would’ve found that almost impossible to do. After all, they would be the first government to lose after their first time in almost a century. If Abbot had’ve won government, the Coalition would’ve been re-elected in 2013. I think they would even do well out of a double dissolution if it had’ve come to that.

    But with Labor in the Government benches, the Coalition will need to be careful not to seem difficult just for the sake of it. I think people who voted Labor this election will feel it’s unfair if Abbott unreasonably attacks the government, and such behavior probably won’t attract too many votes next time round.

    And, frankly, after how the Coalition’s behaved since the election, well, I’d be surprised if they’ve won any votes.

    • Alexander

      I said: I think they would even do well out of a double dissolution if it had’ve come to that.

      I meant “they would’ve done well”, that is, if Abbott had’ve been prime minister, an early election (despite the media’s hostility to the idea) wouldn’t’ve hurt his chances at reelection.

    • I agree with your assessment Alexander. Here in SA the sky didn’t fall in and we had a minority government with indies (in one case our only National Party member) in the Cabinet. It worked so well for Labor that they governed in their own right in the following elections.

      For the opposition, it means the target of their opposition is not just Labor but Labor+. They simply can’t be as gung-ho in their opposition given that they may need indies themselves one day.

      Of course it call all go pear-shaped very quickly, but as long as Labor can make it work — and that is the big question — there will be more honey in the chalice than poison.

      • Peter Golding

        Point taken Tony,but it must be remembered that state govts are largely about the delivery of services-health,education,law & order etc.
        Federal govt is a different animal in that there are many “big picture”policy platforms such as immigration,foreign affairs,indiginous affairs,industrial relations,welfare and the environment.Good luck to Jules trying to please everybody on these issues.

        • Tony

          You’re right, Peter, extrapolation from State to Federal might be risky (as with any predictions in the current climate!) but they’re both about managing power-oriented egos and consultation and negotiation.

          While the situation is less stable than a clear majority, I don’t think ‘Jules’ will be too overwhelmed at least not in terms of the survival of the govt. There may be some legislative programs that have to run the gauntlet of endless argy bargy and some that may just not get up, but if it proves largely workable, ‘Jules’ will come out better for it in electoral terms.

          I also think that many Liberals will start remembering that Tony Abbott got in by one or two votes if he starts to lose popularity and their record for replacing leaders is a whole lot worse than Labor’s.

          • PS: Re Liberal ‘memory’.

            24 hours later and there’s rumbling in the camp with Coalition MPs going for the independents and rumours that ‘The Cockroach’ may not survive this time.

            One thing that ‘Jules’ has on her side — albeit tentatively — is the ‘spoils of victory’ and this may make it easier to keep her troops in line. The old ‘crash or crash through’ Abbott may have been supressed for the election campaign, but who knows if and when it will surface again?

          • Tom

            Fairly sure that Gillard will be ripped apart by a fractious caucus. She doesn’t have sufficient authority to hold down the thrashing snake that is Federal Labor (read: the Labor party coming out in all sorts of hysterical criticism at the whisper of Labor failing to get back in).

            We’ll see though, I don’t think Abbott or Gillard would be able to manage in this situation. The advantage to Abbott will be if Labor collapses and Abbott can push for an early election. This will return a solid Liberal majority (I think).

            • Tony

              I think — and I’ll also invoke the ‘we’ll see’ disclaimer — you’re misreading the situation, Tom.

              A caucus in power, especially such tentative power, is easier to discipline than one in opposition.

              The dumping of Kevin Rudd is the exception rather than the rule in terms of Labor discipline and even that was done swiftly and ruthlessly reflecting a unity of purpose rather than a ‘thrashing snake’. Compare this to the extended ‘backroom’ undermining and close votes of the Libs.

              The Coalition’s only short term hope is not a new election (that’ll require a double dissolution, as I understand it, and the Senate will not come to that party), it’s a vote of no confidence in the Reps and to do that they’ll need the Independents. If the last day or so is an indicator, they’re doing all they can to push the Indies further away.

              Finally, if Labor can make this work — and, yes, it’s a precarious ‘if’ — they will more likely be returned with a solid majority themselves next time if state minority government experiences are anything to go by.

  3. Paul G

    It seems to me that the issue of gay marriage has 2 groups shouting at each other because they are talking about different things. The gays want to feel that their lifestyle is respected, they aren’t interested in any idea of a sacramental marriage. There is no practical reason to demand marriage rather than a civil union, the gays just want the feeling of public approval. I wonder what it says that they crave this support from other people?

    If gay “marriage” is made legal, can anyone explain to me the reason for keeping polygamy illegal?

    I saw Bob Katter on Q & A on TV on Monday. Katter sounds like a blathering idiot, but I think he actually has an agile mind. A questioner asked him about his comment on the absence of gays in his electorate, and why did he cause such suffering. Katter made the very sensible reply that he was sorry if he offended anybody, but frankly, it paled into insignificance compared to the rate of suicide among farmers who have been made destitute and abandoned.

    • Peregrinus

      [i]”If gay “marriage” is made legal, can anyone explain to me the reason for keeping polygamy illegal?”[/i]

      I don’t find this argument convincing.

      The fact that someone rejects one of the key characteristics of the Christian concept of marriage (heterosexuality, openness to procreation*) doesn’t necessarily mean that they will must reject another of them (exclusivity).

      If it did, then this is a horse which bolted long ago. For well over a hundred and fifty years both civil law and popular morality have rejected the notion that marriage is indissoluble and irrevocable. If the argument you make here holds good, then for the past hundred and fifty years there has been no reason for keeping same-sex marriage illegal.

      [* OK, that’s two concepts, not one.]

      • The fact that someone rejects one of the key characteristics of the Christian concept of marriage

        Point of order there, Perry. We’re not arguing about a specifically “Christian” view of marriage. We are arguing about a understanding of the nature of that which we human beings call “marriage” which has been universally shared by the entire human race from the very beginning. No society, no religion, no race, no tribe anywhere EVER has ever even imagined that what goes on between two people of the same sex (however taboo or accepted) could be described as “marriage”. That’s the real point. This is a radical shift of ground unprecedented in human history. It is hard to argue that accepting such a radical redefinition of “marriage” would be inconsequential for genuine marriage.

        • Peregrinus

          Hi David

          I’m not arguing that it has no consequences. I’m only saying that it is not inevitable that the consequences will in particular include a rejection of the exclusive nature of marriage (as understood in the West).

      • Gareth

        Because every arguement that the homosexuality lobby uses Pere to further their cause – can equally be used by polygamists.

        In fact, polygamists have a greater case for legal recognition of their lifestyle than sodomites as at least their relationshio can result in the natural procreation of children.

        If one sees nothing wrong with homosexual marriages, who are we as a society or individuals to say or claim that polygamists are doing anything wrong?

        See nothing wrong with homsexual legal rights by own means, but recognise in taking such a view, one is discrimaniting against polygamists.

        If society is willing to legally accept and support homosexual relationships, why be so biased and cruel and discriminatory against polygamists.

        After all, according to such people what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is no-one else’s business and one’s definion of ‘love’ is up to the individual, right??

        • Peregrinus

          Hi Gareth

          I think there is a significant distinction between the cases for gay marriage and for polygamy.

          What the proponents of gay marriage seek is the right, which straight people already have, to make an exclusive conjugal commitment with their chosen life partners recognised, honoured and supported through the network of laws, conventions and social undertstandings that society calls “marriage”. They can argue that they are being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, because straight people have this right when they don’t.

          (It is not a sufficient answer to this to say that gay people enjoy the right to enter into straight marriages, or that straight people are equally prevented from contracting gay marriages. Straight people can marry their chosen partners, while gay people cannot.)

          The hypothetical proponent of polygamy, however, doesn’t want this right. He doesn’t want to make an exclusive conjugal commitment with his chosen life partner; he wants a non-exclusive commitment. And, while he may want recognition, social support, etc for his non-exclusive commitment, he can’t point to anyone else who currently gets that for their non-exclusive commitment.

          He does not want the treatment that monogamously-married people have. All their relationships with other than their first spouse are seen as adulterous, and the act of marrying somebody is understood to import a commitment not to enter into such relationships. He wants the exact opposite of that treatment; the right to have relationships with a second partner which are not regarded as adulterous. But, currently, nobody has the right to marry on those terms.

          So, whatever arguments he advances in favour of polygamous marriage, he cannot advance the discrimination argument. He is not being discriminated against. He cannot point to anybody who gets the treatment that he is denied.

          • Gareth

            I disagree Pere – infact there is a case before the Canadian Supreme Court that is arguing that since certain legal rights have been extended to homosexuals, why not polygamists?

            One cant be consistent and argue that society should legally or socially look favourably upon homsexuality, whilst condemening polygamists relationships on the other hand. It is sheer hypocrosy.

          • Alexander

            (It is not a sufficient answer to this to say that gay people enjoy the right to enter into straight marriages, or that straight people are equally prevented from contracting gay marriages. Straight people can marry their chosen partners, while gay people cannot.)

            Well, I can’t marry my mother or sister if I wanted to. I can’t choose to marry a woman who’s already married. I can’t choose a woman and then marry her unless she reciprocates. Gay people also knew the rules of the game before they made their choice; they could’ve made a different choice.

            Choice has nothing to do with it, not from the anti-gay-marriage, nor from the pro-gay-marriage side. The fact that some people use “choice” language to argue for gay marriage doesn’t mean they argue the logic behind their feelings. Gay marriage advocates, just like gay marriage critics, need to express their ideas in the moral vocabulary of today, and they use “choice” because it’s a big part of moral vocabulary and lends itself to soundbites and works comfortably on a superficial level.

            Also, if there was enough polyamory in our society, they could argue for the improperness of the current system from the existence of divorce and adultery, both of which challenge the notion that marriage is exclusive. The marriage act currently defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. Considering the “for life” bit is obviously false, if the “man and woman” bit was changed, how long could the “exclusion” bit last?

            There’s also a lot more natural about the set “a man and a woman” than “two people”. “A man and a woman” is one member from each of two sets that contain so close to every member of animal life that we forget others exist. It’s also precisely what is needed if we want to use sex for its natural purpose shared with all other animal life.[*] “Two people” is just an arbitrary number.

            If polyamorous relationships had the kind of profile that homosexual ones do, we would find people arguing for it, I’m very sure.

            [*]: The uniative aspects of sex are essentially limited to Homo sapiens. As most species lack anything like childhood, they have less need of monogamy and less need of a union between sexual partners.

            • Tom

              Alexander is correct Per – just because marriage at the moment is called ‘exclusive’ why does that mean it should always necessarily be so? If someone is poly-amorous maybe they will want to be married, just to several people at once. If the definition of marriage is already giving way to ‘two people’ instead of ‘a man and a woman’ why not make it: “an exclusive union between two or more people voluntarily entered in to for as long as is deemed convenient.”

              The selection of ‘two people’ represents something rather unique – that is, a man and a woman are the unique identity that is the unity of our species (species here understood in the Metaphysical term of ‘a unity of difference’). If we are going to abandon the point of a unity in difference (that is we take homogeneity rather than difference) then we might as well take the point of it being two people to be another meaningless social construct.

              • Louise

                Presumably the actual point of the whole exercise is merely to destroy marriage. I mean, the ideology behind all this, not necessarily the individuals who support the idiotic notion of gay marriage.

          • Louise

            I don’t think gays (or at least very many of them) are really all that interested in an exclusive and thoroughly monogamous, life-long relationship though.

      • Alexander

        If it did, then this is a horse which bolted long ago. For well over a hundred and fifty years both civil law and popular morality have rejected the notion that marriage is indissoluble and irrevocable.

        I don’t think it’s true to say that civil law and popular morality have rejected indissoluble and irrevocable marriage, except inasmuch as they’ve rejected them in their absolute cases. Even the Catholic Church recognises that there are cases in which an apparent marriage may be terminated.

        However, I do think gay marriage stems directly from the modern conception of marriage brought about (wordwide) with divorce-on-demand in the 1970s and contraception in the decades preceding that.

  4. Alexander

    If gay “marriage” is made legal, can anyone explain to me the reason for keeping polygamy illegal?

    There isn’t a mainstream group, no matter how broadly defined, calling for polygamy. In my youth, I was surrounded by GLBTs and those sympathetic to them, but I never knew anyone who was polyamorous. By now, I have friends who know someone who’s been polyamorous.

    Monogamy is more in keeping with the notions of fairness that direct liberal feelings. If polygamy were to be legalised, the beneficiaries would be predominately the alpha-male, the overdog. No-one feels any sympathy for him. Because, at the end of the day, the beneficiaries will predominately be hims.

    The fact is, most popular/populist ideologies, like liberalism, are based on selfishness. People either want what will directly benefit them, or what will make them feel good, by making them think they’re morally good. Darwin Catholic’s had a few recent posts about proxy morality, and that’s the driving factor in this debate. Liberals have been the winners in the ethical/moral debate of the day; we are all brought up with systems of morals and vocabularies that lead far more natually to the conclusion that gay marriage is good, then the conclusion that gay marriage is bad. Even though I know what’s wrong with gay marriage, I still found the last sentence hard to write. Those who oppose gay marriage will either have to learn how to state the objective, non-religious objection to gay marriage better (without seeming like a conservative-for-the-sake-of-it argument, as Family First does), or else have to prosecute the case for God better.

    Responses to the extremists in groups like the Secular Party of Australia, who wish to establish a state irreligion in Australia, are in order. Not ones that are accessible only to those who are affiliated with religion, but those who aren’t, too. Work really needs to be done to shore up the legitimacy of religiously-guided views in politics. The debate was lost in the US a long time ago, and the Greens clearly consider the debate lost here in Australia too. The people I know are more liberal than the average Australian, but it is clear a majority of them consider the debate lost, and liberals are merely a few years ahead of the mainstream.

    I’ve gone way off topic from the original reply, but I think it’s absolutely imperative that Catholic morality place itself once again well within the range of mainstream views, rather than the almost outlandish and extremist position it curently holds. Not by compromising itself, but by demonstrating itself.

    • It is interesting to reflect on the fact that while polygamy has existed in many societies in the pas (and still exists today), the same cannot be said for same sex “marriage”, which is a recent invention of our western secular society.

      It is further interesting to reflect upon the effect of Christian teaching on the diminishment of polygamy in Western (and even some non-Western) societies.

      Our modern Australian law which defines marriage as a life-long union between one man and one woman is unusual historically – not because it requires the partners to be of opposite sexes, but because it requires the partnership to be between two and only two people.

      • Gareth

        On the subject of polygamy:

        It is interesting to note that (believe it or not) there are instances in the Old Testament where God actually allows polygamy.

        Our old friends Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon share a common story – they would all be currently charged under Australian law as they all had multiple wives.

        God even at one stage sent more wives for David.

        The Bible actually nowhere explicitly condemns the practice (contrary to homosexual acts which is always frowned upon as a grievous offence in God’s eyes.)
        – although the New Testament when talking about ‘husbands and wives’ always talks in the singular, implicitly meaning that polygamy is not Gods design for marriage.

        It is also interesting to note that some of the holiest missionaries in some parts of Africa have a history of accepting polygamists into the Church (whilst later disallowing the practice) with the intention that it is more productive to spreading Christianity to accepting a man and his wives into the church, instead of ordering divorce or condemning the wives to a destitute lifestyle as divorced women in Africa may be forced into poverty.

        it is also interesting that may proponents of polygamy almost always come from low-status religious groups.

        There are some interesting facts.

      • Peregrinus

        Nitpick: That’s not unusual historically. There are plenty of examples of (non-Christian) societies which had a mutually exclusive understanding of marriage, e.g. pagan Rome.

        [Question: given that Judaism [i]doesn’t[/i] have a mutually exclusive understanding of marriage, but accommmodate polygamy, where did Christians get the idea?]

        • Gareth

          An interesting question Pere considering there is not a single verse from the New Testament that actually prohibits polygamy and western tradition of mongamy seems to be more influenced by Greco-Roman culture than Christian ideals.

          I guess all I can say is God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve and Evie :’) and that the Lord says when a man leaves a mother for his wife they form one flesh, not one fleshes!

          • Peregrinus

            Far from prohibiting polygamy, the OT (as you have pointed out yourself) appears to endorse it numerous times.

            By the time of Christ, as I understand it, polygamy was discouraged by most Jewish teachers, and not much practiced. But it was still accepted in principle. And, in the Diaspora, Jewish communities did practice polygamy, albeit not to any great extent, in countries where this was consistent with prevailing custom (i.e. in Islamic countries). As late as the nineteenth century, and possibly into the twentieth, there were polygamously-married Jews. And I seem to recall reading that Luther at one stage said something to the effect that he didn’t like polygamy, but that he couldn’t say that a man who married polygamously was doing anything forbidden in scripture.

            Perhaps the correct position is that monogamy is intrinsic to sacramental marriage, but not to natural marriage. In which case, from a Catholic perspective, the acceptance of polygamy raises fewer issues than the acceptance of gay marriage. (Unless you take the view that the role of the state is to recognise only sacramental marriages, or marriages which could potentially be sacramental.)

            And, now that I come to think of it, Christian powers with non-Christian colonies did implement and administer colonial laws which recognised the validity of plural marriages. And I’m not aware that the church ever got very steamed up about it – if indeed they got steamed up at all.

            • Louise

              I don’t think the OT endorses polygamy exactly. It just describes the instances of it. Seems to me that this was merely tolerated. I often think the book of Genesis (and perhaps the OT generally) could be subtitled “Patriarchs behaving badly.” IOW just b/c the Patriarchs did it (murder and what-not) doesn’t mean it’s okay!

              • Peregrinus

                “I don’t think the OT endorses polygamy exactly. It just describes the instances of it.”

                It goes a bit further than that. The Law, despite being very detailed and specific about matters of sexual purity, nowhere forbids polygamy. In fact, it explicitly envisages and regulates it at, e.g., Ex 21:10, Deut 21:15-17. It seems to be normal and acceptable provided it doesn’t involve the infringement of any other law – e.g. a man marrying more wives than he can support. And of course in some special circumstances the law affirmatively requires polygamy (Deut 25:5-10).

                When we look at the history books and the prophetic books, it’s true that most mentions of polygamy are simply statements of fact; they indicate that polygamy was indeed practiced but don’t necessarily imply divine approval. But there are a few which do; e.g. in 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan indicates to David that his multiple wives are a sign of God’s favour and blessing. And there are certainly no negative reflections on polygamy in the OT.

                • Polygamy and monogamy are BOTH forms of marriage, even though the Church (and, for that matter, most Western states) recognises only monogamy as legal. Even in situations where a man is able by the law of the land or by custom to marry more than one wife, this is not a single marriage, but a series of co-existant marriage contracts between a man and a woman (where the man in question is the same man in each of the contracts). Both forms of marriage have existed in society, sometimes in the same society at the same time, as with the Israelites. Polygamy is not a perfect reflection of the divine plan for the union of man and woman, but can still be seen to be within the “traditional” definition of marriage. Both monogamy and polygamy fulfill the Thomistic definition of the purpose of marriage, ie. the procreation and support of children, and the mutual support of a man and a woman. The suggested “same-sex marriage” is something of a completely different order – especially in so far as it cannot be “fruitful” in childbearing – such that it cannot truly be called a form of marriage at all.

                  • Louise

                    Polygamy at any rate is disgusting. I rather think that polygamy in the OT was accommodated in the Law, just as divorce was, “because of your hardness of heart, but from the beginning it was not so.”

                    It seems pretty clear to me from the words of Our Lord, that God’s intention was for one man joined to one woman (until death).

            • From the Catechism:

              1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord’s words it still carries traces of man’s “hardness of heart” which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives101 [cf. Mt 19:8; Deut 24:1].

              1645 “The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection”153 [GS 49# 2]. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive154 [cf. FC 19].

              1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child (GS 50#1).

              2387 The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law.” [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive“179 [FC 19; cf. GS 47# 2]. The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.

              2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

              From all this, I believe it is safe to conclude that while the Church does recognise that, as perhaps with something called a “free union” between a man and a woman, polygamy has the characteristic of marriage, it is nevertheless:

              1) Against the dignity of marriage
              2) Contrary to the uniative purpose of marriage
              3) Against the “moral” law

              It is interesting to note that the Catechism does not speak of “homosexual unions” as a “grave offense against the dignity of marriage” because it has nothing at all to do with marriage. It is something completely other.

        • As the Catechism says in 1664 and 2387, monogamy best serves the uniative and exclusive purpose of marriage. I believe that this belief was strengthened by the Pauline theology comparing marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church. which is by definition uniative and exclusive. The Christian’s relationship to Christ is exclusive of all other comparible relationships. In this sense, the roots of monogamy are actually in the prophetic tradition of the OT itself, where Yahweh is described as Israel’s husband to the exclusion of all others.

  5. I can’t see that either major party can allow a conscience vote in this term on this given their election commitments, and Labor’s refusal to concede on this issue in response to bids from Wilkie and the Greens in the negotiation process.

    Both parties made commitments; both parties need the Christian vote come the next election, and the numbers in favour of same sex ‘marriage’ do not yet stack up.

    Its only a matter of time though since the gay lobby is out there actively campaign and no one seems to be making a very strong case in rebuttal.

    • Tony

      Both parties made commitments; both parties need the Christian vote come the next election, and the numbers in favour of same sex ‘marriage’ do not yet stack up.

      Aren’t you being presumptuous about the ‘Christian’ vote Terra?

      • Louise

        Well, there are Christians and then there are secularists-with-a-bit-of-God-sprinkled-on-top. The latter pretty well describes the UCA as far as I can tell.

    • Peregrinus

      I may be wrong, but I don’t think either Labor or the Coalition actually had a manifesto commitment to opppose same-sex marriage.

      In any event, by long-standing convention, the Coalition not having got into government, their manifesto is treated as having been rejected by the people (or, at least, as not having commanded their support) and the Coalition parties are not now committed to it. It is on that basis that, after the 2007 election, they dumped WorkChoices, whose retention was a 2007 manifesto item. By the same argument, this time around they were quite willing to drop their manifesto commitment to “Broadband Lite” in their negotiations with the Independents. The justification again would be that the manifesto had not secured the support of the people, and could (and even should) be departed from in order to secure stable government.

      By exactly the same argument the ALP could justify changing its stance on same-sex marriage. After all, their manifesto has not secured the support of the people either, has it?

      What might constrain them is not any feeling of having a manifesto commitment to oppose it, but rather the feeling that not opposing it might be politically costly. Manifesto commitment or no, there is certainly a section of the population who are outraged at the idea of same-sex marriage, and the ALP could well alienate them by allowing a free vote. On the other hand, there is a section of the population who will be alienated if a conscience vote is not allowed.

      The ALP could well judge that the former group is unlikely to vote ALP in any event, whereas the latter group might. If so, they may think it makes political sense to conciliate the latter group by allowing a conscience vote.

  6. Matthias

    Speaking of the camouflaged greenAndrew Wilkie,I emialed him regarding his push to debate the troops staying the course in Afghanistan,a few days ago. no response yet but await with interest his reply. My interest- i have a son about to depart for basic training at Kapooka- recruit training regiment,then further training as a armoured car crewman at Puckapunyal. He has been told he could be Over There 8 to 18 months after joining.

  7. Paul G

    Hi Alexander, I agree with you that the case against gay marriage is often put very badly.Margaret Somerville is an atheist philosopher who supports civil unions but opposes gay marriage. Her argument is that the defining feature of marriage is the right to have children, but when artificial means like IVF or proxies are used to create a child without a father or a mother, it is a violation of the rights of that child. She doesn’t necessarily oppose gay adoption in the case where that is the only option for the child.

    As for the opinion polls, these will usually be framed as an issue of fairness, so many people will agree. The fairness to the child is often ignored.
    I may be labelled as narrow minded, but I find it strange that some of the politicians who will support gay marriage are not married to their opposite sex partner themselves. So what do they really think of marriage?

    I shouldn’t have used the word polygamy, what about any combination? How about 2 men and 3 women as a marriage?

    By the way, isn’t polyamorous a beautiful word? Its meaning may be a bit dodgy, but the word is wonderful.

    • Tony

      I shouldn’t have used the word polygamy, what about any combination? How about 2 men and 3 women as a marriage?

      Whatever you call it, Paul, I think it’s still a ‘slippery slope’ argument as presented.

      • I am rather surprised at your support for same-sex “marriage”, Tony. Perhaps you could tell us what you consider to be the essential definition or characteristic of the relationship we call “marriage”, so that we can understand where you are coming from.

        • How is it that you conclude that I support ‘same-sex marriage’ in the wake of me identifying a slippery slope argument, David?

          Beyond not being convinced that ‘same-sex marriage’ is the threat to heterosexual marriage as some think, I have a reasonably open mind about the issue.

          If it is, in principle, a good thing to encourage long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals — mostly in the form of marriage but, increasingly it seems, not exclusively — then I think it would be the same for homosexual couples. Currently there is no formal, public ‘witness’ to that in a way that there is for heterosexuals.

          What form that formalising of relationship would take is a matter of working through. On a secular level it may be state-recognised ‘civil unions’. On a church-level it may be … mmm … beyond the scope of my imagination at the present time!

          In my personal experience, the gay men and women I’ve had anything to do with over the years have, by and large, have made it clear that they wouldn’t go anywhere near a ‘marriage’ that directly mimicks heterosexual marriage. But, unlike he-who-I-shall-not-name, I don’t extrapolate personal experience to national attitudes!

          😉

          • Alexander

            Why is it a good thing to encourage long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals? Your premiss is only valid if the justification for long-term heterosexual relationships can be applied equally to homosexual ones, but it my mind it can’t be.

            • Again, in my experience, Alexander, many homosexuals would agree!

              Others, perhaps inspired by the example of their own parents (?), want that community witness to a committment. They want to have a stable, intimate relationship and they want the support and encouragement of their community.

              But I’m speculating. Apparently some homosexual couples want some form of formal recognition and I don’t start from a premis of assuming that they want it to threaten heterosexual marriage. The gay men and women I’ve known, have mostly been men and women of high integrity and thoughtfulness and have not been part of any ‘subversive agenda’.

              • Louise

                I think the (very, very few) gay people who actually want to marry are trying to be subversive. But that doesn’t mean that the thing itself will not be subversive.

              • Alexander

                You completely avoided my question. The fact that they ask for it in good faith doesn’t mean that they should be allowed it.

                Why is it that marriage has only been allowed to heterosexual couples for as long as it’s been in existence? It’s not a question of threatening heterosexual marriage; at least, not yet. Why has marriage been limited to heterosexual couples to date? Before you advocate change—and in particular for one of our oldest and most cherished institutions—you really must understand why it’s the way it is today. Everyone who advocates change (of anything) should be able to put forth a legitimate and convincing argument about why we shouldn’t change it before we listen to them. (I don’t mean regurgitate a bunch of ill-thought out points from the other side; I mean put forth a legitimate and convincing argument. If you don’t understand the other side, then why should we listen to you?)

                • Tony

                  You completely avoided my question. The fact that they ask for it in good faith doesn’t mean that they should be allowed it.

                  Who is ‘allowing’? And, surely, the fact that they ask for it in good faith doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed it.

                  Why is it that marriage has only been allowed to heterosexual couples for as long as it’s been in existence?

                  For a whole series of historical, religious and societal reasons. I’m not sure a pithy answer to that question is possible on a blog.

                  Everyone who advocates change (of anything) should be able to put forth a legitimate and convincing argument about why we shouldn’t change it before we listen to them.

                  That’s an interesting way of doing things. To the extent that I understand it — and I admit I’m struggling to get a strong handle on it — I’m not sure it’s the ony way or even a desirable way to deal with change.

                  • Alexander

                    And, surely, the fact that they ask for it in good faith doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed it.

                    When did I or anyone else say anything remotely comparable to that?

                    For a whole series of historical, religious and societal reasons. I’m not sure a pithy answer to that question is possible on a blog.

                    Don’t give a pithy answer, then. Religion can only provide a reason if that religion be true. Otherwise, you need to go back a step and explain how that religious justification emerges. “Historical and societal” reasons are likely the same, too.

                    That’s an interesting way of doing things. To the extent that I understand it — and I admit I’m struggling to get a strong handle on it — I’m not sure it’s the ony way or even a desirable way to deal with change.

                    I am suggesting that you need to know what you are trying to change, before you change it. Be like a child and ask at every step “why?”. And stop apparently attributing to me ideas I never expressed—like it being the only way to deal with change.

          • Gareth

            I have a few questions for Tony:

            1. Why would one be ‘open’ to something that is an oxymoron (e.g. comparing homosexual relationships to heterosexual relationships when the end means are vastly different) to begin with?

            Call homosexual relationships what one likes, but using language such as ‘marriage’ is a no-brainer as such a relationship actually contradicts the traditional legal and social sense of the word.

            2. As a Catholic, in being ‘open’ to alternatives you have outlayed, how would you guarantee that the Church is not discriminated against in the event that the secular law of the land contradicts religious norms concerning the conduction of ‘marriage ceremonies’?

            3. .Don’t you think it is hypocritical to condemn myself for ‘extrapolate personal experience to national attitudes’ when it appears your own personal views on homosexual relationships appear to be just that – based on your personal experience (e.g. you differ on the church’s teaching on the matter, not because of an alternative religious view or that you have anything from scripture or church tradition to state otherwise, but merely because your own personal experience does not equate with that of what the Church has to say on the matter?

            • 1. I don’t accept the terms of your question.

              2. I really don’t understand what you’re getting at.

              3. See #1.

              • Gareth

                Tony: 1. I don’t accept the terms of your question.

                Gareth: Do you want me to spell it out for you? Calling a ‘pairing’ such as a homosexual relationship ‘marriage’ does not make it so.

                How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

                Still four because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg and so it is with homosexual relationships and the term ‘marriage’, which in the western sense of the word has legal and social connotations towards being between a man and a woman and ordered toward the procreation and education of offspring.

                Call alternative pairings what one likes, but they are NOT marriages.

                Tony: 2. I really don’t understand what you’re getting at.

                Gareth: Surely as a Catholic you would have to acknowledge and even support that in the event that the secular Marriage Act contradicts a religious bodies definition and ethos surrounding marriage and relevant ceremonies, then that religious body needs protection from the law in the event that it is not able to comply with the secular law of the land?

                Tony: See #1.

                Gareth: Your views on homosexual relations seem generally guided by your ‘personal experiences’ and you are willing to dismiss what the Church says on the matter due to this. (e.g. I don’t agree with the Church because in my own personal experience…..).

                This is fair enough – but it a bit rich to then state that someone else is basing their arguments on personal experience and then therefore should be dismissed. You can’t have it both ways.

                • Calling a ‘pairing’ such as a homosexual relationship ‘marriage’ does not make it so.

                  Well, I guess there’s nothing to worry about then.

                  How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

                  Still four because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg and so it is with homosexual relationships …

                  That’s almost surreal, Gareth.

                  Call alternative pairings what one likes, but they are NOT marriages.

                  Restating your view and adding a little all-caps ‘NOT’, doesn’t advance your argument, Gareth.

                  Surely as a Catholic you would have to acknowledge and even support that in the event that the secular Marriage Act contradicts a religious bodies definition and ethos surrounding marriage and relevant ceremonies, then that religious body needs protection from the law in the event that it is not able to comply with the secular law of the land?

                  Again, I don’t accept the premise of your question. Specifically, I don’t accept that a ‘… secular Marriage Act contradicts a religious bodies definition …’ in the sense that it needs protection from the law.

                  Your views on homosexual relations seem generally guided by your ‘personal experiences’ and you are willing to dismiss what the Church says on the matter due to this.

                  Certainly my personal experience informs my view but I don’t ‘dismiss’ what the church says. I just don’t agree with aspects of it or I don’t find the church’s arguments convincing.

                  This is fair enough – but it a bit rich to then state that someone else is basing their arguments on personal experience and then therefore should be dismissed. You can’t have it both ways.

                  I’m not. I haven’t dismissed your personal experience at all. I have questioned you extrapolating that personal views to national attitudes in spite of more objective evidence.

                  I make no such claim about my personal experience and the views that those experiences have informed.

                  I also happen to think that a Galaxy poll to determine attitudes to issues like gay marriage is more likely to be accurate compared to you asserting that you know what people think.

                  • Gareth

                    Tony: Certainly my personal experience informs my view but I don’t ‘dismiss’ what the church says. I just don’t agree with aspects of it or I don’t find the church’s arguments convincing.

                    Gareth: And as Catholics who dont find your arguements convincing, what do you expect us to do about this?

                    • Tony

                      And as Catholics who dont find your arguements convincing, what do you expect us to do about this?

                      I have no expecations of you, Gareth.

                    • Gareth

                      I just have to sit and listen on why you dont find the Church’s ‘arguements’ convincing because your ‘personal experience’ with a few friends tells you otherwise ?

                    • Tony

                      I guess you ‘just have to’ do what you ‘just have to’ do, Gareth.

          • If it is, in principle, a good thing to encourage long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals — mostly in the form of marriage but, increasingly it seems, not exclusively — then I think it would be the same for homosexual couples.

            Ah. That’s where we radically disagree, I think, Tony. The only reason the State supports “long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals” is that they produce children, and stable marriages in which children can be raised and supported are a positive good for both the state and society. Since “homosexual marriages” are inherantly childless (unless they rob someone else of their child) they cannot be regarded to serve the same positive good for the State. Therefore neither State nor society has any business or anything to gain from creating legislation that encourages “long term, faithful, loving relationships” for homosexuals.

            • Tony

              But marriages occur where the couples choose or have no choice in regards to children.

              The church itself would happily bless the marriage of a couple who were too old to have children (maybe a first spouse died, for example).

              I see the notion of ‘procreative’ as not narrowly about the production of children.

              My wife and I will have no more kids, but I don’t think that brings the curtain down on the ‘pro-creative’ nature of our union.

              • The Church supports couples who, for unfortunate reasons beyond their choice, cannot have children (see Catechism 2379). The Church does not endorse the choice to remain childless as a legitimate choice for marriage.

                • Tony

                  I know David. I’m exploring the notion that children are an essential part of marriage (either for the state or the church) and the exceptions I gave suggest that they are not.

                  Also you said,

                  The only reason the State supports “long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals” is that they produce children, and stable marriages in which children can be raised and supported are a positive good for both the state and society. Since “homosexual marriages” are inherantly childless (unless they rob someone else of their child) they cannot be regarded to serve the same positive good for the State.

                  Rob, David?

                  • Yes, “rob”. To rob someone of something is to take something which does not belong to you and which you do not have a right to take. It’s called stealing. A child of 7 knows that.

                    As for I’m exploring the notion that children are an essential part of marriage (either for the state or the church) and the exceptions I gave suggest that they are not. The teaching of the Church (and therefore of all who seek to think with the Church) is that OPENNESS to children is an essential part of marriage. Any act by which someone CHOOSES to be closed to the conception and birth of children in marriage is a grave offence against marriage. By their rejection of natural marriage, same-sex couples CHOOSE to be closed to the procreation of children, and yet wish to have their cake and eat it too by using all sorts of methods from IVF to Adoption to Surrogacy to get what they want, what they have conciously chosen to act against.

                    • Peregrinus

                      Yes, “rob”. To rob someone of something is to take something which does not belong to you and which you do not have a right to take. It’s called stealing. A child of 7 knows that.

                      Hold on. I’m not wanting to be a smartass, but on that view, aren’t all adoptions “robbery”? A child does not “belong” to those who apply to adopt it, and they certainly have no “right” to take it. I think this requires a bit more thought.

                    • I know what robbery is David, no need for the lecturing tone! I leave the question posed to Pere.

                      A couple who can’t have children are, by definition, not ‘open’ to having them. It has to follow by logic, surely, that being ‘open’ to children is therefore not essential. Yes?

                    • Tom

                      since i can’t reply below your comment tony (silly wordpress) i’ll reply here.

                      A couple who can’t have children can be so in one of two ways.

                      First there is the way in which a heterosexual couple are, in type able to have children, but due to some deficiency, or some other difficulty are unable to have children (eg: illness, old age, etc.)

                      The second way in which a couple are unable to have children, is to be unable in type to have children. That is, the inherent nature of the act is itself not disposed (open) toward the possibility of life (eg: homosexual acts, sodomy, etc.)

                      Now to be closed to children through an evil suffered, or a natural evil, is not a morally depraved act, where-as an evil committed is an evil done, and is in such a way that it corrupts the one who commits the act.

                    • Tony

                      Tom,

                      The issue I was trying to clarify was David’s contention that ‘The only reason the State supports “long term, faithful, loving relationships for heterosexuals” is that they produce children …’.

                      Now, for whatever reason, some couples can’t have children yet they still have loving, fulfilled marriages.

                      So the link with ‘openess to children’ is at least qualified or, in principle, not essential in terms of a valid marriage (for the state or the church).

    • Alexander

      I shouldn’t have used the word polygamy, what about any combination? How about 2 men and 3 women as a marriage?

      Be not mistaken; although in a liberal society that permits multiple relationships like you describe, there will be some non-traditional ones. But the main beneficiaries will be “traditional” polygamous/polygynous marriages because it is the only form that can be considered natural. This is why I said earlier “Because, at the end of the day, the beneficiaries will predominately be hims”.

      By the way, isn’t polyamorous a beautiful word? Its meaning may be a bit dodgy, but the word is wonderful.

      It’s an evil word! It combines a Latin root with a Greek prefix! Far better had the concept been called “multiamory”…

  8. Peregrinus

    “I may be labelled as narrow minded, but I find it strange that some of the politicians who will support gay marriage are not married to their opposite sex partner themselves. So what do they really think of marriage?”

    They think that it is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

    Or, to put it another way, it has never been a Christian view that you should marry merely because you want to shack up. So why should we expect non-Christians to hold that view?

    • Louise

      I don’t know, Pere. Many of them will tell you that marriage is “just a bit of paper” which is a far cry from the beautiful words of the Anglican marriage ceremony.

  9. Louise

    I confess, I have found this whole election thing has bored me to tears. But then, I have a new baby to enjoy!

  10. Earlier on, Paul G asked

    “If gay “marriage” is made legal, can anyone explain to [him] the reason for keeping polygamy illegal?”

    Peregrinus wrote in response that

    “The fact that someone rejects one of the key characteristics of the Christian concept of marriage (heterosexuality, openness to procreation*) doesn’t necessarily mean that they will must reject another of them (exclusivity).”

    That’s true, but the problem is that the characteristic which advocates of so-called same-sex marriage reject at least implicitly is the characteristic of the complementarity of the spouses. ‘Marriage’ in the most general sense of the word is the uniting of two complementary parts into a whole. Hence a carpenter might speak of ‘marrying up’ two interlocking pieces of timber. The complementarity which is the defining feature of matrimony is primarily and at least initially sexual complementarity (and ‘sexual’ in the proper sense of the word, not the at best semi- or quasi-(really, pseudo-)sexual complementarity of a sodomite and his current catamite).

    So for ‘gay marriage’ advocates, husband and wife are conceived of not as complements, but as substitutes. And if so, and there can hence be a husband and a husband or a wife and a wife in a marriage, then why not a husband and a husband and a husband, or four husbands, or two husbands and a wife, or whatever? If spouses are substitutes, not complements, then it seems arbitrary to fix the number of them at two per marriage.

    • Paul G

      May I dare to say something very non pc.
      In the gay couples I have seen, both man/man and woman/woman, it is obvious who is the “husband” and who is the “wife”. I don’t mean any physical practices, I mean the behaviour of the couple in their relationship with each other. Lesbians tend to refer to their partner as “my wife”, while the “G”‘s of GLBT refer to their partners as “my husband”.
      The awkwardness of the use of these names reflects, in my opinion, the unnatural practices involved.

      The commentators in this blog are mostly agreeing with each other, but in the public debate, no one is convinced of the others’ argument because they are usually talking about completely different concepts of marriage and different attitudes to truth. The questions the gay lobby ask are “why not?” and “why are you unfair?”, while the Christian (and maybe other religious) lobby ask “why are you changing the purpose of a sacrament that was instituted by the church?” The two groups might as well be speaking in different languages because there aren’t many shared ideas between them.

      • Paul G

        I’m sorry for violating David’s rule of one post from one person, but I just wanted to add the practical point that any legislation about gay marriage has to address:

        -whether or not a gay couple has access to government funded IVF
        -the legal rights of churches and marriage celebrants to refuse to marry a couple on the basis that they are both men or both women.

        Unless the proposed law makes these clear, it is a fraud and is intended to be just a staging post on the way to further social engineering.

      • Just a point of order, Paul, in our discussion. We should be clear that the Church does not define Marriage as a “sacrament”. Marriage between baptised Christians is a sacrament, but the Church recognises and upholds every legally contracted marriage between a man and a woman in which neither partner has a previous, currently-living spouse. “Natural” marriage is still very much a true marriage, even if it does not have the character of “a sacrament” because one or both of the partners is not baptised. So we should be clear that we are not arguing for a religious defition of marriage here, but marriage according to natural law.

        • Paul G

          thanks David, I didn’t understand it that way. Is that only true of marriage when one or both partners are Christian, or does it include non-Christian marriage?

          • Peregrinus

            It includes non-Christian marriage.

            And, pastorally, this can present a bit of a problem when a non-Christian approaches the Catholic church with a view to becoming a Catholic. He can be a bit upset to discover that his first, registry-office marriage to another non-Christian, which was ended by divorce many years ago, needs to be annulled if he is to be baptised while married to his current spouse. And he can be even more upset if it turns out that there are no grounds for annulment.

    • Gareth

      Another interesting point on the topic is the word ‘marriage’ gets its defintion from the fact that the female ‘maiden’ is no longer so.

      • Peregrinus

        If that’s so, then there are a lot more marriages around that is commonly supposed!

        But, in fact, it’s not so. Marriage comes from the verb marry, which entered the English language with the Normans and over time largely supplanted the much older wed. It’s a Romance word, and has nothing to do with maid, maiden, which is Anglo-Saxon. It comes from the Latin maritare, a word which was applied to humans, animals and climbing plants and which meant, according to context, to marry, to give in marriage, to pay court to, to mate, to breed, to train (as applied to plants), to bind together. It has nothing to do with maidenhood.

        • Gareth

          Peregrinus:

          Matrimony is a word that comes from the Latin: Mater, mother. This is because the first end of marriage is to make the maid a mother, generating children.

          Marriage, from the Latin maritare, “to wed, marry, give in marriage,” refers to the contract made by the couple.

          St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent explain that the goals of the marriage are two: the primary goal is the procreation and education of the offspring; the secondary goal is the mutual support of the spouses.

          I have often noted Peregrinus that amongst other things you argue with people for no legitimate reason and dismiss people’s views and then end up being wrong.

          Is there any legitimate reason for this?

          • Tony

            As far as I can see, Gareth, Pere was discussion marriage and made no comment about matrimony.

            What is it that he’s got wrong?

          • Peregrinus

            Matrimony is a word that comes from the Latin: Mater, mother. This is because the first end of marriage is to make the maid a mother, generating children.

            Marriage, from the Latin maritare, “to wed, marry, give in marriage,” refers to the contract made by the couple.

            The Latin word matrimonium it its earliest sense meant that which you inherit from your mother (as opposed to patrimonium, that which you inherit from your father, which gives us the English word “patrimony”.)

            As married women couldn’t own property, however, and didn’t usually inherit from their husbands – a husband’s property generally passed straight to his son, who was then obliged to look after his widowed mother – matrimonium did not often refer to inherited goods or property. Over time, the word came to be used to refer to the acquisition not of the tangible property your mother had, but of the status that she had, i.e. the status of a married woman. Hence it doesn’t refer to becoming a mother (that would be “matrescence”, following the pattern of adolescence, senescence, etc); it referred to becoming like your own mother, acquiring her status, viz, the status of being a married woman. An unmarried mother was not considered to have acquired matrimonium, whereas a married but childless woman was. Thus “matrimonium” doesn’t so much look forward to your own children as look backwards to your own parents.

            The words “matrimony” and “marriage” and “maid”, despite the fact that they all begin with “ma-”, come from different roots. The roots of the word “marriage” have nothing to do with ceasing to be a maid, or becoming a mother, and everything to do with binding together. That is why both husband a wife are said to “marry”, even though the husband was never a maid to begin with, and will never be a mother.

            St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent explain that the goals of the marriage are two: the primary goal is the procreation and education of the offspring; the secondary goal is the mutual support of the spouses.

            Indeed they do. But the evolution and sense of the words matrimonium and maritare owes nothing to either Aquinas or Trent. Both words are much, much older.

            I have often noted Peregrinus that amongst other things you argue with people for no legitimate reason and dismiss people’s views and then end up being wrong.

            Is there any legitimate reason for this?

            Well, if you start by stating that I have no legitimate reason, you must inevitably conclude that I have no legitimate reason. However, that ought perhaps to cause you to re-examine your starting assumptions and reasoning process.

            On this occasion, I don’t think I am wrong. It wouldn’t embarrass me at all, however, if I were, as on many other occasions I am. What is the point of engaging in discourse, if not to learn from it?

  11. Pax

    Ultimately even if the Laws of our land continue to diverge from Truth it does not alter our individual obligation to live in Truth and Love
    What does it profit any one of us if we are feted and loved by the world and lose our soul?
    All that a politician can do is vote according to his conscience which for a Catholic is formed by the teachings of the Church handed down over 2000 years and protected from error by the Holy Spirit.
    Christian politicians should take comfort that they live in less life threatening times than Thomas More!

    • Paul G

      Can somebody else please make another comment, so this thread breaks the 3 digit barrier? I wouldn’t want David to be bowled for 99.

  12. Louise

    Well, I am very disappointed with the choice, but seriously, was it ever really going to be anyone other than the ALP? Would the Greens ever support the Libs over the ALP?

  13. Louise

    I hope the independents enjoyed their 23457645276346 minutes of fame!