Daniel Andrews’ plebiscite letter to Malcolm Turnbull

I’m beginning to suspect that our Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, needs a new media advisor, someone who can help him tone down the rhetoric he is continually spraying at millions of fellow Australians.

In an open letter address to Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Andrews has called for Government to drop the plebiscite on marriage, and instead present a bi-partisan Bill to Parliament within the next 100 days.

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In the letter, he writes,

“It will legitimise a hateful debate which will subject LGBTI Australians to publicly-funded slurs and denigration.”

“In Victoria equality is not negotiable. On behalf of my state, I urge you to accept there is no need for a costly and divisive plebiscite and agree to produce a bipartisan Bill to amend the Marriage Act within the next 100 days.”

And apparently members of Parliament who don’t share Mr Andrews’ views, “do not represent a fair and modern country.”

Clearly, the Victorian Premier doesn’t trust the Australian people to conduct a civilised discussion on marriage, and he is also fearful of the possibility that Australians will not support change to the Marriage Act.

I believe there are arguments for and against this plebiscite, and it is undoubtedly an unusual course of action, but it is a valid democratic pathway, and one that was determined months ago.

Given this fact, would it not be wise for our political leaders to encourage Australians to discuss this issue with grace and respect, rather than the unhelpful name-calling Mr Andrews’ seems unable to avoid? This letter is certainly not as offensive as many of his comments which usually include the words, bigot and homophobe, but it still derogatory.  

Let us not pretend otherwise, changing the definition of marriage is no small thing. Australians are not choosing whether to adopt a new tax or funding more schools or creating the NBN, as important as such things may be; we are deciding how Australia will view what is the most essential and basic unit of every society on earth, marriage. Does not the significance of this issue deserve the voice of the Australian people?

As someone who has a voice in the community, albeit a small one, I will gladly stand alongside Mr Andrews’ and affirm that hateful speech and actions against LGBTI people is unacceptable. A marriage plebiscite does not justify spite or slander toward those who wish to change the Marriage Act, nor toward those who believe the Act should remain unaltered.

As important as this plebiscite is, there is something of greater consequence, and that is the good of others. I have no desire to sacrifice people for the sake of a vote. I do not wish harm on any homosexual and lesbian Aussies. But please do not erroneously fuse disagreement with hate as though there is an inextricable link between the two, for this is not the case. To disagree civilly is not to hate, and by thinking as such Mr Andrews’ risks undermining the foundation of democracy.

It is possible, indeed desirable, to show kindness in disagreement. I realise that kindness like marriage is a disappearing norm in Australia today, but showing gentleness and respect toward those with whom there is a different view ought to be basic to our humanity. Is this not one of the reasons why Donald Trump leaves us shuddering?

Mr Andrews’, I appreciate your concerns about the plebiscite, but rather than demeaning those Australians who have a different opinion, will you stand with us in modelling and encouraging a constructive conversation about marriage?

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60 thoughts on “Daniel Andrews’ plebiscite letter to Malcolm Turnbull

  1. Respectfully debating my right to have my marriage recognised in Australia fails in respect stakes. It is not respectful to me and my spouse to be the subject of a rights debate about the nature of our relationship.

    I’m told by many people on a regular basis that my marriage isn’t the same as others, simply because my spouse is of the same sex. There is no doubt that hatred, abuse and vilification will increase as people seek to justify their own wishes upon other people. We can see it happening already. Andrews calls it for what it is. Divisive. I’m not asking for something special, I’m not asking that others change their minds on marriage.

    What I am asking for is my right, and your right, to live our lives according to our own integrity.

    It’s a little hard to not see the negative side when I’m told that my relationship isn’t every bit as good or as important as yours.

    Andrews is on the right track. We don’t need any more discussion on the merits of my right to marry. I don’t need the rest of you telling me what marriage means to me and, as a society, we already cope with people of many different beliefs (and non-belief) without a problem.

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    • As the other person in Gregory’s marriage I concur wholeheartedly with Daniel Andrew’s sentiments. I also concur with those of my husband. The nature of our legal marriage, solemnised in New Zealand, is of no business or consequence to anyone else.

      Whether we raise children together or not is of no consequence to anyone else either. I do know though that my husband has competently raised two children into their 20s mostly by himself, so I can attest to the integrity of his parenting skills, if that ever were to come into question.

      There is no justification for anyone to vote on whether I can get married Murray. Did anyone vote on your right to get married?

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      • Hi Michael,

        You said, ‘There is no justification for anyone to vote on whether I can get married’, but are you not asking for the Government to change the law and so redefine marriage in a way that fits with your definition? And before doing so the Government are asking the Australian people what they think. Is that unreasonable?

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      • Murray, I’m not asking the government to do anything more than recognise my legal marriage. My parents got married in New Zealand and the Australian government recognises their marriage. So why should the government not recognise mine? Is there something defective with my relationship?

        As a 47 year-old man married to a 52 year-old man I don’t see the difference between my marriage and that of any other couple who are married in their late 40s/early 50s. Do you?

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    • Hi Gregory,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I’m really interested in the first thing you said: “debating my right to have my marriage recognised in Australia fails in respect stakes. It is not respectful to me and my spouse to be the subject of a rights debate about the nature of our relationship.”

      Can I ask you, do you think its possible for someone to respectfully disagree with you on this issue, or is it disrespectful in and of itself for someone to disagree?

      John

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      • I understand that there are a range of views on the issue. People are entitled to their opinions, and I’m delighted for people to express them and engage with the conversation. That’s how society works. As a consequence of that people respectfully disagree, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Murray and I already understand that we respectfully disagree with each other.

        One of the qualities I’ve enjoyed in conversations with Murray is his preparedness to engage, I get that I’m not going to change his mind however he respectfully allows the conversation on his blog space despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that we are at polar ends.

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  2. Thanks Gregory for these thoughts.

    There are at least 3 issues here: 1. What is marriage. 2. The process for deciding whether the Govt will change the definition or not. 3. The tone in which people speak to the issue.

    On the first issue, there are people on both sides who have strong views. I disagree and don’t believe Andrews is on the right track. I am yet to hear a persuasive argument for change. That is not ditching the fact that there are people of the same gender in relationships, but there is more to marriage than that, and it’s more than the number 2 and being ‘life-long’. That’s the course for another article

    Two, the Govt as already made a decision on the plebiscite, and went to the election informing the people of that decision. Is it the perfect option? No. are the alternatives? No. Given that’s what is happening, let’s try to to frame it as well as possible

    Three, No doubt there are people on both extremes who resort to undue rhetoric, and Mr Andrews is one of them. He constantly abuses and bullies people who don’t support his point of view. That does not help anyone in other side of the debate.

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  3. As you well know, I’m happy to share a counter point of view and appreciate the time you take to express your view and engage with those who you disagree with.

    It’s never clear to me just what you think a pervasive argument is. I shouldn’t need your approval, nor should I have to persuade you as to the value of my relationship. I am married, I have a certificate that says so. I want that marriage recognised here in Australia. That doesn’t sound like too much of an ask.
    The government has not made the right decision, and I will continue to say that we don’t need a plebiscite. I disagree with plenty of decisions made by those in power and will object when I see fit. We don’t have to be happy with any decision, and we all reserve the right to disagree and say so.

    I think you exaggerate, Andrews does not constantly abuse or bully anyone. It doesn’t help to throw around generalisations of that nature.

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    • I think you’re entitled to disagree with the plebiscite and to say so.

      You’re right, you don’t need my approval to be in a relationship, and neither am I asking for it. Marriage is a deeply private thing of which it is none of my business, but marriage is also a public thing and is necessarily so, and in that sense it requires a public understanding and affirmation. The issue is, marriage is a universal and can’t be reinterpreted without losing its meaning. Again, that’s a lengthy discussion for another post!

      I don’t think I’m exaggerating about our Premier (who on some other issues has done a fine job); he has a habit of hurling insults at people who disagree with him on a range of issues relating to sexuality. These remarks have been reported in the media since he took office

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      • “…The issue is, marriage is a universal and can’t be reinterpreted without losing its meaning….”
        But “marriage” has already changed it’s meaning, and will continue to do so…… Marriage is longer about selling your daughter for 3 goats and 2 camels….. therefore it HAS changed…. And John Howard changed the marriage act as recently as the 90’s, with NO plebiscite – so it CAN be done!!

        And you and I both know the insults that will be “hurled” in the lead up to a plebiscite will be a LOT more damaging to the LGBTIQ community than to others!

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      • Actually, that’s not true. What the Howard Govt did was simply articulate what was already true. They didn’t change the nature of marriage.

        In terms of what marriage is, that is it’s between a man and woman for life, that is a universal, and the exceptions stand out as historical oddities because they don’t conform to the normal pattern of marriage

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      • “They didn’t change the nature of marriage.”

        What was changed was the *definition* of marriage in the Marriage Act. The definition can be changed whenever the government wants to change it, as we saw in 2004, and on previous occasions.

        The definition of marriage in the Marriage Act doesn’t actually stipulate that children must be borne of a marriage. On your logic you’d be arguing that the government include wording that requires a married couple to have children, if that’s what you argue the purpose of marriage is.

        Of course, there is ample evidence (eg Fred Nile’s second marriage), that marriage isn’t about having children at all.

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    • Hi Greg! It’s been a long time 🙂

      When you speak of “the value of my relationship” I think you strike to the very heart of this debate. Those proposing redefinition of marriage predominantly express themselves in terms that are ultimately concerned about moral approval.

      I remember discussing definitions with you across our breakfast bar. Your answer to my question “what is marriage?” was “whatever I want it to be”. I think I might best express your position (and correct me if I’m wrong) that “marriage” is a label applied by the state that indicates societal/moral approval of a relationship. If that’s the case then tight definitions are naturally and logically a lower-order question.

      The main problem with this position, ISTM, is that in order to legislate for the right to enter into an institution you have to first define what that institution is and the boundaries around it. One of the great concerns of the “no” camp is that we are simply not hearing any consistently applied definition. You might want to set aside definition but the law is always going to require it.

      And this is notwithstanding the other question as to whether it’s the state’s job to give moral approval in these matters anyway rather than simply regulating a publicly recognised institution.

      Thanks for hosting this discussion Murray.

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      • I don’t think morals have anything to do with marriage David. That’s an added extra that has no place in law.

        Marriage is simply a relationship between two people that is recognised by the state. That’s not hard to achieve.

        I don’t need moral approval by anyone to be in a consenting relationship, you don’t.

        When you say you don’t hear a consistent applied definition, I haven’t yet heard a consistent reason not to grant equal rights to all Australians. The no camp has a range of people who offer excuses, very little substance.

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  4. In what way is it “kind” to deny a group of people access to what you call “the most essential and basic unit of every society on earth, marriage”? I know you hate the word “bigot”, but what is a bigot, if not someone who wishes to deny people equal legal rights on the basis of their sexual preference? You might not overtly hate or fear gay people, but you are intentionally standing in the way of their equality based on no rational argument I’m able to discern other than tradition. In my eyes, that’s what a bigot looks like.

    You say you wish no harm on GLBTIQ Aussies. Perhaps you don’t have any direct experience of the lifelong harm it does to gay and lesbian youth to be perceived as unworthy of the same rights and recognition as everyone else. I’m sure you are aware, however, that GLBTIQ youth commit suicide far more frequently than their peers. Your resistance to marriage equality – your “small voice” – is part of a culture of discrimination and marginalisation against them. Multitudes of studies attribute poor mental health outcomes in GLBTIQ people to this marginalisation.

    There is evidence you have adopted a position that causes harm, although you don’t want to. Magnify that by a few million – even without insults and name-calling – and perhaps you can imagine how awful that’s going to be for GLBTIQ kids. And adults. And their families and friends. This is why so many of us oppose a plebiscite and just want our politicians to get on with the job.

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    • Hi Chris,

      It is not about denying at all. Marriage is a thing but what you are asking for is not marriage, but something else. Underlying your argument here is the belief that marriage is a malleable thing, which it is not, and the current definition law supports that fact.
      Supporters for change need to demonstrate that a relationship between 2 people of the same gender should be defined as marriage. At this stage I am yet read a substantive argument. Someone wanting something to be something else doesn’t make it true!

      I know people who want the Marriage Act to include polyamorous marriages, and other GLBT who argue to rid the definition altogether. What is your position on these views? Should the law change for them? Are some homosexuals bigots because they are not fighting for polyamorous marriage?

      I think one needs to be very careful about connecting suicide with the marriage debate. I am not doubting a connection with LGBTI people & suicide (something I would never wish upon them), but linking marriage with youth suicide is not the same. Which specific research and evidence do you have that correlates the Australian Marriage Act with GLBTIQ youth suicide?

      To be bigoted one needs to hate. Most of the hate we are seeing in the public square is by certain advocates for SSM (granted, not all, but some). I understand that there are individuals at the other spectrum who are also being hateful, but their comments are generally in the form of disgusting private & anonymous messages; there is no excuse for that behaviour.

      Should a Bill be presented to Parliament tomorrow, there is no guarantee it would pass. All previous attempts have failed, although I understand there is greater pressure now, and Labour now deny their members a conscience vote (which is extraordinary).

      i’d be interested to hear your further thoughts. Cheers

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      • “Underlying your argument here is the belief that marriage is a malleable thing, which it is not, and the current definition law supports that fact.”

        And yet we have no-fault divorce. Your argument falls flat Murray. The definition of Civil marriage in Australia (and elsewhere) is in a constant state of flux. As I said yesterday, I got married to a man in New Zealand. It’s a real marriage, solemnised under New Zealand civil law. You can deny that if you want but that would just look silly, as I have the certificate to prove it.

        I don’t understand why you refuse to acknowledge that men no longer own their wives, that marriage is only until death or a divorce is enacted, and that same-sex and gender diverse couples can get legally married in various jurisdictions around the world.

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      • Not at all. no fault divorce hangs off the accepted definition of marriage, and is the sad disillusionment of that marriage.

        The understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman, intended for life, is not in a constant state of flux. You can pluck out a couple of historic and contemporary exceptions, but they stand out because they force themselves against the grain of the near universal understanding of marriage.

        I would be interested to hear how you define marriage. Would you like to share that with me?

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      • If you’re asking about civil marriage Murray then it’s defined as whatever is in the legislature of the respective state. Surely you’d know that?

        In Australia civil marriage is currently defined as a relationship between one man and one woman for life. That’s silly though because it’s really until one or both spouses die OR get divorced.

        In NZ, USA, Canada and so many other countries, marriage is defined as a union between two people, irrespective of gender.

        Anyone can come up with a definition of marriage, but it’s only the definition in civil law that counts as far as I’m concerned.

        I’m curious to hear your answer how my marriage to Gregory is different to that of any other couple who got married in their late 40’s / early 50s’.

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      • The law doesn’t determine what is right and true, it is meant to reflect what is right and true. Australia’s Marriage Act currently does that in my opinion, and NZ’s no longer.

        Because the law says something is ok, is it always? You clearly believe otherwise because you disprove of the Australian Marriage Act. Therefore marriage isn’t just what one legislative body says it is. You believe it to be something other than what is accepted in this country.

        The questions remains, what do you think marriage is?

        I don’t understand your point about marrying in ones 40/50s

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      • Your argument seems to be that because marriage has always been a certain way, then that’s the way it must always be. In addition to being false, this is a weak argument. We live in a world where things that have always been a certain way are constantly changed and improved upon. That is the history of human civilisation. That’s why it’s no longer illegal to be gay and homophobia is now frowned upon in our society and by you.

        Marriage has always reflected the social mores of the culture and time in which it exists. There are and have been forms of marriage that involve multiple spouses, dowries, the subjugation of women, even the ritual suicide of widows. For better or worse, these are simply the ways that cultures define their own version of marriage. When modern Australian culture reflects an increasing trend toward polygamy, then it will be time to have the discussion. In the meantime your raising this issue is irrelevant to the current situation.

        The culture of many countries including Australia has now become kinder and more inclusive to those with non-straight sexual orientations and identities and it is appropriate that the law recognising their relationships reflects this. To do anything other than allow identical recognition of same sex relationships under the law is to legally entrench such relationships as “other”, and in the eyes of many, “lesser”. As I mentioned previously, this further increases marginalisation of same-sex attracted people with consequent mental health issues.

        I am unable to satisfy your request for specific research implicating the negative effect of an Australian plebiscite on the mental health of gay and lesbian people. I can, however, refer you to a statement published by PWC that estimates a cost of $20 million for increased use of the health system for the management of mental health issues negatively affecting up to 50,000 GLBTI people. (http://www.pwc.com.au/press-room/2016/cost-plebiscite-mar16.html).

        Hatzenbeuhler et al studied the effect on mental health of GLBT people in American states conducting referenda on marriage equality and reported a 248 per cent increase in anxiety disorders. I see no reason to expect things would be much different in Australia. It seems fairly likely that if you support a plebiscite you will be knowingly contributing to a deterioration in the mental health of GLBT people.

        As for calling people bigots, let’s just drop the unproductive semantics over the definition of a word. If there’s a word for someone who’s willfully denying gay and lesbian people equality and is prepared to actively contribute to a deterioration of the mental health of that group, then that’s the word I would use to describe people such as yourself.

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      • The PWC study, which I have seen, has been discarded by many earlier in the year.

        It is very convenient to ‘drop whatever meaning that suits. Problem is, words have meaning & when you use them incorrectly you end up misrepresenting yourself and the people you are speaking about. It confuses issues, not clarifies them

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  5. Murray,

    It’s clear to my why you object to Michael and I getting married, I’m keen for you to articulate the real reasons for your objection.

    It’s easy to throw out the standard straw man arguments. Same-sex families, multiple partner relationships, marrying inanimate objects and ‘universal’ understanding of marriage.

    You ignore the reality that marriage is changeable by civil law as demonstrated in places like Ireland and New Zealand to no ill effect. They continue to be democracies that thrive.

    Perhaps you could simply give to us why you think that Michael and I, married under civil law in New Zealand, can not get married here in Australia.

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  6. The question with marriage law is marriage as a public institution. And that’s obvious since all practical discrimination between same-sex partnerships from opposite sex were removed by the federal ALP government’s reforms in 2008 (which were supported by a good number though not all Christians).

    Likewise commenters here are suggested redefining marriage at law is about respect – my relationship is as good as yours.

    One of the problems with this approach is that you cannot legislate for attitudes. It is impossible to force someone else to give respect. But nevertheless there is a sense of legitimacy offered.

    However I do not think that is the main reason for the State’s interest in our personal and private relationships.

    I think the State’s interest in regulating marriage as an institution is for the sake of the vulnerable, and in particular the children whose production marriage as defined over the centuries is inherently oriented towards.

    And contrary to what some claim, marriage was defined as between a man and a woman prior to Mr Howard’s amendments to the Marriage Act 1961, which Parliament adopted almost unanimously in 2004, as a clarification amendment in light of the marriage redefinition debate that had then begun.

    I am advised by a Professor of Law, for example, that the common law definition in Hyde v Hyde has been around since the end of the 19th century referring to a union between one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life, and was the definition so firmly entrenched it did not need a separate definition in the definitions section of the Marriage Act 1961 when the Commonwealth got around to passing a uniform law on the topic.

    But something most people do not realise is that even in the 1961 Act, the Hyde v Hyde definition was still there. In the original Act, s 46 provided for non-religious celebrants (as it still does):

    46 (1) Subject to subsection (2), before a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion of a recognised denomination, the authorised celebrant shall say to the parties, in the presence of the witnesses, the words:

    [QUOTE] “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.

    “Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

    “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”;

    or words to that effect. [END QUOTE]

    So it was assumed in 1961 that religious celebrants did not need to be told exactly what to say, since it was in the authorised rites of their religion which they were required to use. But ‘male and female’ was made explicit for civil celebrants back in 1961.

    +++

    Secondly, in regards to the connection of marriage to children, it was there both assumed and explicit in law. For example, the Family Law Act 1975 says
    • Marriage is ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life’.
    • The family is ‘the natural and fundamental group unit of society’.

    Until recently the leaflet “Happily Ever… Before and After: Important information for people planning to marry” which all marriage celebrants were required to hand to intending couples – under the 1961 Marriage Act – also included these words,

    “It is helpful to know that:
    • marriage is important to you, to your children and to society…”

    In a section entitled, “Marriage is Important”, it cited the Family Law Act in addition to the Marriage Act as shaping our thinking about marriage., quote…

    “The Family Court is there to preserve and protect the institution of marriage, to give the family the widest possible protection and assistance, and to protect the rights of children and promote their welfare.
    The Family Law Act 1975 says:
    • Marriage is ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life’.
    • The family is ‘the natural and fundamental group unit of society’.
    It is a worthwhile goal for all married people to try to achieve a strong marriage and family life.”

    So the state’s legislating around marriage has never just been about regulating romantic relationships for shared ownership of property and guardianship rights along with public honour.

    Rather the continuing reality is that the state has maintained an interest in marriage law in significant part because its has an interest in the protection of children, and stabilising the relationship of a man and woman in the rearing of the children they produce.

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  7. At this point we come to the question of the difference between the relationship of two persons of same-sex in their 40s and 50s as compared to an opposite sex couple in that age range. Commenters have said they can’t see any difference, and also mentioned Fred Nile’s second marriage is clearly not about children.

    I think there’s a fairly straightforward answer.

    An opposite sex couple can produce a child. Some people in their 40s and 50s and later have, although fertility does typically decline with age. A same-sex couple can never produce a child at any age.

    That is a very clear, obvious and significant difference flowing from biology.

    If the answer comes: what of an opposite sex couple whee the man has had a vasectomy and the woman has had her tubes tied. Is there any difference to the same-sex couple now?

    The answer is yes. The opposite sex couple can model masculinity and femininity. For example of one of them has been a parent from a previous relationship (like my widowed mate who is about to get married again in his 50s), then they can provide both a father figure and a mother figure. In the case of elderly couples they can model grand-motherliness and grand-fatherliness (regardless of whether they are actual grandparents). They can model the kind of opposite-gendered conjugal relationship.

    A same-sex partnership can never provide both motherly and fatherly figures. In fact, same-sex marriage would institutionalise the denial of the presence of either a mother or a father to any children brought into such a family.

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    • Sandy, a 59 year old woman typically does not parent a child to a 75 year old man, no matter how hard they try. If you have evidence that Fred Nile’s marriage has produced a child yet, I’ll be most impressed with their respective abilities. Until such time, I believe it is delusional to expect a woman in her late 40s or early 50s to expect to be able to give birth, let alone to a healthy child.

      Whatever you think about marriage, the law does not mention, imply or infer anything about parenting as far as marriage is concerned. Further, marriage is not a prerequisite to parenting. And if it’s of any interest to you, the lack of marriage is not going to stop gay couples from parenting. You don’t seem to understand how the law stop people from having children or starting families.

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  8. Sandy, you miss the fact that relationships are about human need. We celebrate our relationships through symbols and validation through our traditions, we make public declaration of love. That’s what marriage is.

    The use of either biblical text or legal text all amounts to the same thing. Rather than deal with the reality of human life now, human relationships now, people seek to hide behind some other authority.

    At the end of they day, we’re not asking you to marry someone you don’t want to. We are asking for the right to marry the person of our choice. For whatever reason a range of people seek to put barriers in place to prevent/deny and discriminate against a section of our community. People like me have been a part of Australian society since the start of humanity, we will continue to be here and it’s time to stop treating us like something different.

    Also good to note that many people grow up in complex families with single. double and here and there 3 parental figures.

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  9. Sandy’s comments make a lot of sense & so I won’t add much here.

    I don’t think a child is ‘lucky’ having 6 parents. Poor kid.

    You have both argued that NZ law should be suffice; but why should NZ law trump Australian law?

    Gregory: “you miss the fact that relationships are about human need. We celebrate our relationships through symbols and validation through our traditions, we make public declaration of love. That’s what marriage is.”
    There lies the problem. Marriage must be more than this (although includes such things), because in your definition combination of human relationship could be marriage. And do you believe that any type of relationship should be included? Therefore, what makes marriage, marriage and not something else?

    I am yet to hear any SSM advocate adequately present a sound argument on this.

    Thanks for the comments though. They were good to hear & consider

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    • Marriage is about what people want it to be, whether it’s about love, convenience, social acceptance, children, getting a visa or whatever.

      You want marriage to fit your biblical narrative. Under secular government, civil law is blind to religious narratives. The Marriage Act does not care about parenting. People who are beyond parenting are allowed to get married. Unmarried people have children.

      Your argument against equality is lacking.

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      • Thank you. There lies a significant issue in your view of marriage. I have attempted to argue against equality here, for that wasn’t the purpose of this article. I have done this elsewhere, although Sandy has alluded to some poignant areas. The issue, to warrant change, those wanting change must demonstrate sufficiently that the law should change. Thanks again for commenting; I am keen to listen

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    • And therein lies the nub of the issue, and the issue that you avoid at all possible cost. I’ve asked you to articulate the real reason you object to marriage.

      People will continue to form and disband relationships as they see fit, some of those are very non-traditional and I think you’d like me to state categorically that they aren’t marriage. Seems to me that you’re heading for the slippery slope argument, rather than address the issues. I wonder why you make grand claims that marriage must be more than a relationship between two people, at its core that’s exactly what marriage is. Perhaps you’d like to think it’s also about breeding. We both know that people breed regardless of marriage.

      Marriage is the coming together of two people, some of them do so to have children, some of them do so to live together in a union. Everyone is entitled to have their relationship valued and recognised and for me that’s marriage.

      When you come clean with why you think marriage should be restricted to opposite sex couples only, without the constructed arguments so often used by those who oppose equality, then we are having an open and honest conversation. Until then there is little point in discussing this material that goes nowhere because it doesn’t address the core issue of my sexuality and my innate desire to be in a loving relationship that is recognised by my family, my peers and my society.

      I am every bit as human as you and I feel and love exactly the same way you do. Yet I have to prove my relationship is worth the same as yours by providing a ‘sound argument’ that meets your preconceived marriage concept.

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  10. People obviously breed in various circumstances. No one is debating that. No once can stop that. The question is what we want to encourage by our institutions.

    Marriage has been widely honoured and defended at law – as an institution – to encourage breeding to happen in a way that gives children the optimal circumstance of growing up with their own mother and their own father in an intact relationship. It has public implications and benefits, not just private personal benefits for the couple.

    Michael, this is a telling comment: “Marriage is about what people want it to be, whether it’s about love, convenience, social acceptance, children, getting a visa or whatever.”

    This shows very clearly that you are talking about radical redefinition. And in a relativistic direction that will evacuate it of any depth or lasting meaning.

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    • “This shows very clearly that you are talking about radical redefinition.”

      Hardly. There is nothing radical about removing the gender requirement from the definition of marriage. That’s all I’m asking for Murray, nothing more.

      As I type this I am listening to an interview about the difference between forced marriage vs arranged marriage. People marry for money, for citizenship, for social status, etc etc. This is reality.

      “Marriage has been widely honoured and defended at law – as an institution – to encourage breeding to happen in a way that gives children the optimal circumstance of growing up with their own mother and their own father in an intact relationship. It has public implications and benefits, not just private personal benefits for the couple.”

      Agreed that marriage has been shown to provide a more stable environment for raising children. However it has also been shown that the stability provided is independent of the gender of the parents. Knowing that same-sex coupes raise children, have done so for a long time and will continue to do so, increasingly, allowing the children of these relationships to have the stability marriage offers is a no-brainer. Denying this stability to families is cruel. A child needs a loving, caring, stable upbringing. It does not need a biological mother and father. This is evidences by the alarming rates of parents who are abusive to their children, predominantly biological birth parents.

      Murray, I am not interested in having these protracted debates with you because you have a vested interest in your belief that homosexuality is a sin, that gay people are second-class citizens, that god hates homosexuality and that you don’t want to treat all people equally.

      Like

      • I appreciate the time you have given to the discussion. Yes, I do believe what the Bible teaches about marriage (as properly understood in its historical & grammitcal contexts). I do not believe though that gay people are second-class citizens

        Like

      • “I do not believe though that gay people are second-class citizens”

        From where I sit Murray, your words and your actions do not match up. I do not have the right to have my marriage recognised under Australian law. Nor do I have the right to get married to a man in Australia. I do not plan to start a family at this stage of my life. What reason, and you have not yet given me a single damn reason, and I will assert that, should not be able to get married to man, in Australia, in 2016?

        I do not believe in supernatural forces, I do not believe in gods, I don’t care what is written in the bible, the torah or the qu’ran. I don’t care about Jesus, Mohammed, Hashem or any other of the brazillion deities humanity has invented to cater for its ignorance in historic times.

        I want religious interference out of my life. I don’t want people who believe they know better to tell me how to live my life. I want them as far away from me as humanly possible. I want to get on with my life and not have to deal with people who feel they should be able to tell me, directly or via the government, what I can or can’t do.

        You tell me that gay people aren’t second-class citizens. I tell you that you don’t fucking know what a second-class citizen is.

        Like

  11. As a friend said to me, if marriage is as loose as that then it would be far more logical for the state to simply decline to define marriage any more (since *any* definition would be exclusive).

    And you address inheritance, access, property rights etc simply by a relationships or civil partnerships register, which could include two spinster sisters who choose to live together etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Michael, you wrote: “A child needs a loving, caring, stable upbringing. It does not need a biological mother and father. This is evidences by the alarming rates of parents who are abusive to their children, predominantly biological birth parents.”

    Actually the federal government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies reports the evidence from the child maltreatment data is that stepparents or defacto parents are over-represented as maltreaters, especially in cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse (although with AIFS I note as with most social science research results need to be treated with caution due to methodology challenges).

    However such evidence is opposite of your contention that biological parents are most likely to offend.

    +++

    As for your dismissal of the importance of a child’s biological mother and father, the social science suggests that the children of divorce, of adoption (which is still often a good thing), and of donor conception all have some losses in overall welfare on average compared to children raised in stable intact homes with their own parents.

    This is the consistent positive finding: that children raised by their own biological parents in an intact relationships do better than all other types of parenting situations that it has been possible to fairly measure against with methodological rigour. That’s why we privilege it.

    But I don’t think most people need social science to know that a child has a real interest – dare I say right – in knowing and wherever possible being raised by its own parents, his or her real mother and father.

    Essential to our identity as human beings is knowing who we are and where we come from. One of the most basic questions we ask as humans is “Who am I?” The most fundamental answer to that question involves knowing our parents, our heritage, our ancestry, and our origins.

    We don’t come into this world as isolated individuals disconnected from a community. We are not like the people in “Brave New World,” raised in test tubes and subject to the whim of the powerful as they control and manipulate us. We are born to one man and one woman— into a particular family—and that family gives us identity, meaning, and safety.

    To take us out of that context and place us in – whether by sad necessity or deliberate choice of the adult(s) concerned – is to separate us from parts of ourselves, and tends towards some real sense of loss.

    Yes, I think biology matters.

    Like

    • ” his or her real mother and father.”

      There are many, many, many children who are damaged by their “real” parents, whatever that vague term means Sandy.

      You clearly have no idea of the huge success same-sex couples have in parenting. Simon Crouch’s research from University of Melbourne shows children of same-sex couples are only disadvantaged by the intolerance they face from other people and not due to the gender of their parents. In fact in some circumstances these children are show to fare better than children from more traditional parenting arrangements.

      You can throw data about step-parents and de-facto parents about but you would be a brave person to say that there is no shortage of children damaged by the environment their biological parents provide them.

      In all, you clearly have an agenda that is against the equal recognition of same-sex couples and rainbow parenting.

      Let’s just explore that.

      Like

  13. “I don’t think morals have anything to do with marriage David. That’s an added extra that has no place in law.”

    So how come all the language of “approval” and “who are you to say my marriage is less than yours?”?
    It’s ALL about public positions on morality.

    “Marriage is simply a relationship between two people that is recognised by the state. That’s not hard to achieve.”

    Why only two people? Dead serious question.

    “I don’t need moral approval by anyone to be in a consenting relationship, you don’t.”

    I agree, but then I don’t understand why the argument you mount is consistently about the fact that the law as it currently stands effectively approves of one form of relationship over another.

    “When you say you don’t hear a consistent applied definition, I haven’t yet heard a consistent reason not to grant equal rights to all Australians. The no camp has a range of people who offer excuses, very little substance.”

    What legal right (such as employment, probate, property etc.) do you currently not have with Michael that i have with my wife? Name it and I’ll join you tomorrow in arguing for it. You can have all those rights without redefining marriage!

    Like

    • I’m not sure why you connect morals and approval.

      The two people or more in marriage comes up all the time, slippery slope argument. When and if those that want to extend marriage beyond two people, then lets hear it and make a decision. I’m agnostic on it.

      It’s a furphy to point to equality in other laws, we all know that the only one in question is the Marriage Act, that is clearly defined by the parliament. I’m a fully fledged Australian, there is no reason to deny me the right to get married in Australia to a person of the same sex.

      Honestly David, you and I will argue the same points over and over, nothing has changed for either of us and I see little value in continuing.

      The points you make are the same ones that we both argue about with a plethora of others.

      At the end of the day I disagree with the rules of your religion telling me how to live my life. That’s fundamentally what this is about, that’s why you talk about morals. I don’t need your religion, you don’t need it and we as a society need to get it out of the way.

      Like

      • “I’m not sure why you connect morals and approval.”

        Well I’m struggling to make sense of your language. You are asking for a state-mandated approval of your relationship. You express that unless you are able to apply the label “marriage” to that relationship it is somehow not properly approved of. Now what I don’t understand (only because you have not yet expressed it clearly) is what form of approval you’re looking for. Are you asking for people to recognise that your relationship is a moral good? Or something else? If so, what is that something else?

        “The two people or more in marriage comes up all the time, slippery slope argument. When and if those that want to extend marriage beyond two people, then lets hear it and make a decision. I’m agnostic on it.”

        No, it’s not a slippery slope argument. I stated that it’s a point of consistency. You provided a definition of marriage that included “two people”. I simply asked you to back up your definition by stating a reasonable question: if two, why not three? If you can’t say why just two then why does that become part of your definition? As for people asking for three or more, you and I both know people who are asking for just that. The fact that they’re not loud enough yet to get a fair hearing doesn’t meant they’re not asking. And since you know that they’re asking for it, I repeat my question to you: why does your definition include the terms “two people”? And why does it excluded three people? On what consistent basis?

        “It’s a furphy to point to equality in other laws, we all know that the only one in question is the Marriage Act, that is clearly defined by the parliament. I’m a fully fledged Australian, there is no reason to deny me the right to get married in Australia to a person of the same sex.”

        It’s no kind of furphy. You ask for “equality” of rights and I simply ask what exact form of equality you’re demanding. So I give you a list of rights and ask which you are not currently entitled to.
        But the “right” to have a certain label attached to your relationship is something clearly different to the right to property, employment etc etc. Which is why earlier I asked you about approval – because it seems that that is what is really being argued for. If not, then again I would ask exactly what tangible right, other than a descriptor for your relationship, are you currently denied?

        “Honestly David, you and I will argue the same points over and over, nothing has changed for either of us and I see little value in continuing.”

        We haven’t actually “argued” any points. I have asked questions of your position in order to establish some consistency from you. You’ve chosen not to actually engage with my questions. That’s not even arguing, that’s you not engaging in discussion.

        “At the end of the day I disagree with the rules of your religion telling me how to live my life. ”

        And yet what is fascinating is that in this entire conversation thread I don’t see one person mounting an argument based in religious belief (and I’ve certainly not made on in this dialogue). You ran this line at me repeatedly during filming despite the fact that I attempted to engage on a broad variety of bases, only one of which was religious belief. The reality is that there are a wide range of arguments against the redefinition of marriage and a wide range of people (from religious to atheistic) mounting those arguments. If you don’t want to genuinely engage with them then so be it, but please do them the courtesy of acknowledging what they’re actually saying, not what your stereotype of them insists they’re saying. That would give you the right to claim that you really were open to proper debate.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. You are asking for a state-mandated approval of your relationship. You express that unless you are able to apply the label “marriage” to that relationship it is somehow not properly approved of. Now what I don’t understand (only because you have not yet expressed it clearly) is what form of approval you’re looking for.”

    I’m asking that the marriage act be change to remove the barrier to marriage for same-sex couples. That’s all the approval I need. Stop pretending there’s something else to it.

    “Are you asking for people to recognise that your relationship is a moral good? Or something else? If so, what is that something else?”

    I am not asking anyone to approve my relationship as a moral good. I’m asking that my relationship be called a marriage.

    “No, it’s not a slippery slope argument. I stated that it’s a point of consistency. You provided a definition of marriage that included “two people”. I simply asked you to back up your definition by stating a reasonable question: if two, why not three? If you can’t say why just two then why does that become part of your definition? As for people asking for three or more, you and I both know people who are asking for just that. The fact that they’re not loud enough yet to get a fair hearing doesn’t meant they’re not asking. And since you know that they’re asking for it, I repeat my question to you: why does your definition include the terms “two people”? And why does it excluded three people? On what consistent basis?”

    Sounds like a slippery slope argument that starts with letting 2 people of the opposite sex get married to me. Where it ends up I don’t know, and that’s not my focus.

    “It’s no kind of furphy. You ask for “equality” of rights and I simply ask what exact form of equality you’re demanding. ”

    I’m demanding that the marriage act be changed so that all relationships are treated equally.

    “We haven’t actually “argued” any points. I have asked questions of your position in order to establish some consistency from you. You’ve chosen not to actually engage with my questions. That’s not even arguing, that’s you not engaging in discussion.”

    What you mean I suspect is that you aren’t getting the answer you want. I have engage with your questions.

    “The reality is that there are a wide range of arguments against the redefinition of marriage and a wide range of people (from religious to atheistic) mounting those arguments. If you don’t want to genuinely engage with them then so be it, but please do them the courtesy of acknowledging what they’re actually saying, not what your stereotype of them insists they’re saying. That would give you the right to claim that you really were open to proper debate.”

    I look at the world and think we can all get on better because we are social animals. You don’t have a proper debate because you won’t admit what is driving this conversation, a man of the faith that does his best to keep his religion out of the arena. You have clearly made your case that the reason marriage is the way it is is because your believe that your god made them man and woman. To my mind that’s a fanciful suggestion not based in reality. Go ahead and believe it David, that’s fine, but don’t ever pretend to me that your faith in Jesus and his message isn’t the central thing in your life, the driving force. We both know it is.

    Like

    • “I’m asking that the marriage act be change to remove the barrier to marriage for same-sex couples. That’s all the approval I need. Stop pretending there’s something else to it.”

      So, again, what exactly is this approval? Of what? Of the relationship itself? Why could that not be achieved by having a state-approved “civil union” with every legal right (property, probate etc) that I have with my wife but with a different label? This question keeps being asked but never gets answered.

      “I’m asking that my relationship be called a marriage.”

      And yet, as has already been pointed out, you can’t yourself define what that word “marriage” means. You initially said “two people” but when asked to defend that definition you didn’t. So it looks like you’re asking for your relationship to be given a label that you yourself cannot consistently define. I don’t think it’s wrong at that point to ask what value the label actually has if it has no inherent meaning that you can give to it. Indeed, I’d go further and ask why you are so insistent on having a label that you can’t give a fixed meaning to.

      “Sounds like a slippery slope argument that starts with letting 2 people of the opposite sex get married to me. Where it ends up I don’t know, and that’s not my focus.”

      But doesn’t it actually worry you that you have no consistent definition for this label that you are insistent you deserve? And if it’s not your focus then why not? Are you so dismissive of other people’s rights to the label of marriage? Do you not care about equality for them? Are you only concerned about equality for yourself and the polyamorists can look after themselves as long as you’ve got what you want?

      “What you mean I suspect is that you aren’t getting the answer you want. ”

      I don’t think we’re getting ANY answer. You come across as wanting to avoid any genuine engagement with your position. But I’ll let the thread stand as a record of that and let readers decide for themselves.

      “You don’t have a proper debate because you won’t admit what is driving this conversation, a man of the faith that does his best to keep his religion out of the arena.”

      Well, actually the reason we can’t have a proper debate is because you refuse to engage with what others are actually writing. You claim to know our motivations and arguments better than we know ourselves.

      I don’t think any religious person here would argue that their religion does not inform their position. I am more than happy to state that I think it very notable that my religious position correlates strongly with the non-religious argument being made.

      But you strongly resist acknowledging a couple of key points that are more than abundantly clear:

      1. That the arguments made on this thread are conspicuously non-religious in nature.
      2. That those same arguments are mounted by opponents of the redefinition of marriage who are areligious and even anti-religious.

      I don’t know why you refuse to acknowledge this. I do realise, however, that if you did it would mean your having to move beyond the “keep your religion out of my life” rhetoric that you use and into an actual engagement with the best arguments that your discussion-partners give you. That would, of course, mean that we could then have a meaningful conversation where we engage with what the other is actually saying. But that’s entirely in your court now. I fear that for whatever reason it is you’re unable to do it at this point and I genuinely think we’re all poorer for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here I am on a blog written by a minister of a local church and being lectured by a priest from the Anglican church. You guys rarely name your motivation because you know what an adverse reaction people have to your fundamental approach to religion. Not only does your religion inform your position it taints it.

        As to your claims and wise words David, I’m not obliged to respond the way you expect or want. I’m a gay man who wants to get married to Michael in my own society. It’s not too much to ask. You haven’t yet provided what I think is a good reason to prevent me from doing so.

        You can try to pin me down as much as you like, no worries, I’ll keep coming back and stating that I want to get married. Its a simple straight forward request from a citizen of the world that my relationship be recognised in law, just like yours has been.

        I’m not here to give you a satisfactory answer to your mundane and oft repeated questions.

        And just so we’re clear, as much as there are people within our diverse community who oppose marriage equality, there are also a swag of christian who support it. We don’t all agree on anything.

        That’s diversity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think David is lecturing anyone. He simply asked for clarification to some of the claims you & and Michael made in relation to marriage. If someone is wanting to redefine marriage it is only fair to ask why & how one comes to the conclusion. As it stands, what I’ve heard from you is that marriage means whatever one wants it to mean, which as David has pointed out, in fact makes the word & the institution meaningless.

        I agree there is a diversity of views in the community about marriage, and people have the right to express their views, but then it’s important to weigh up the veracity of those ideas. Again, I think David is simply trying to figure out how you define marriage.

        BTW there isn’t a swag of christians who support SSM. The number is small & their view doesn’t conform to a Christian of marriage.

        Like

      • “A majority of Christians support marriage equality

        53% of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage.

        This is the finding of a Galaxy Research poll which asked 1060 Australians whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

        The survey also asked about religious affiliation. It found that support for same-sex marriage is:

        53% among Christians (with 41% opposed)
        62% among members of other religions (with 30% opposed), and
        67% among people with no religion (with 24% opposed).

        The survey found overall support for allowing same-sex marriages remains steady at 60%, which is statistically identical to the figure found by a Galaxy poll in October last year (taking into account the ±2% margin of error).

        However, the poll shows a marked shift in how strongly views on the issue are held. Since October last year, 5% of supporters of equality have shifted from agree to strongly agree, with a similar shift among opponents of reform from strongly disagree to disagree.

        For the full poll results, click here.

        Christians 4 Equality
        In response to majority support from Australia’s Christians, Australian Marriage Equality has launched a new webform which allows Christians who support equality to write to the local federal representatives.

        Clearly, those Christian lobby groups which claim that their anti-equality stance is representative of all Australian Christians are mistaken. They only represent a minority of Christians.

        This makes it vital that the Government hears from the majority of Australian Christians who support marriage equality.

        Christians 4 Equality has been endorsed by a wide range of clergy and lay people from Anglican, Uniting Church, Catholic and Baptist backgrounds. Their statements can be found on the Christians 4 Equality website. A selection of these are posted below.

        Christians speak out: “Why we support equality”

        A number of Christian leaders have explained why they, as Christians, support marriage equality.

        “Today in Australia we all live in a secular non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.”
        Rev Bill Crews (Uniting Church Minister, Sydney)

        “How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”
        Rev Dr Rowland Croucher (John Mark Ministries, Victoria)

        “When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they NOT get married? As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.”
        Rev Matt Glover (Baptist Minister, Melbourne)

        “From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs:
        1. contribute broadly to social stability
        2. provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children.
        If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are these two:
        1. Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability?
        2. Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?
        I think the answer to both these questions has to be ‘yes’”
        Fr Dave Smith, (Anglican parish priest, Sydney)

        Further resources
        To read AME’s fact sheet, Marriage equality and religion, click here.
        For a fact sheet summarising the results of a Galaxy poll from earlier this year, click here. For the full results of the 2010 Galaxy poll, click here. For all information of all Galaxy poll results, click here.”

        Like

      • I am familiar with these polls and I also know the difference between a secular poll and the beliefs of practicing Christians. I have written about these in the past.

        I also know Rowland Croucher, and his views are not held either by his denomination nor by orthodox Christianity.

        Like

      • My best response to your comment Murray is to quote the late Christopher Hitchens:

        “Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”

        You claim your version of Christianity is the correct one. Others don’t see it the same as you. You have those on your side. Many are not. I don’t really care what you believe in. But you can’t expect other people to take you seriously while you say that those people being reported on by the poll are not valid Christians. They are to themselves. That’s all that matters. If you don’t believe they are “real” Christians then maybe there aren’t so many Christians out there. Again, IDGAF.

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      • David, I might have got it completely wrong, but my take on the above conversation is that it doesn;t appear to be a denial / lack of acknowledgement of the arguments being non-religious, just that the arguments/reasons don’t seem particularly persuasive and seem to give the impression that there must be some more significant reason that you are not willing to use?

        Like

  15. Hi Greg and Michael,
    I understand that this is about Marriage Equality here in Australia, but I was wondering that given that you two were married in New Zealand, is your marriage recognised in Australia? A personal question, but would you get married again under Australian law if/when that is possible?

    Also, I’m struggling to understand the difference between a marriage and a civil union, if there actually is a difference?

    Like

    • In principle, if the Australian government recognised our overseas marriage, we wouldn’t need to get married again in Australia. Whether we could would be subject to any changes to the Marriage Act. Not sure if we would want to.

      The 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act was a spiteful initiative of John Howard specifically designed to prevent two couples married in Canada from having their marriages recognised here.

      Generally, a civil union is a mechanism used by governments to formally recognise relationships when it doesn’t want to call lthem marriages. We don’t have this option in Australia at federal level.

      Like

  16. Thanks for your reply Michael.
    Just been looking up info re. the amendment to the Marriage Act. Certainly appears as you have said, that there was a very specific motivation behind inserting a definition into the Act.

    Like

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