Guest Post: Brendan O’Neill – Here’s my beef with gay marriage

Sinclair Davidson seems to think my main beef with gay marriage is that the people who campaign for it use unpleasant tactics. But this is merely an observation. And it’s the one I made on Q&A last Monday because I had just witnessed the doublespeak of Sam Dastyari, who said, in response to traditional marriage campaigner Katy Faust, that “people are entitled to have different views” (how generous of him) “but this American evangelical claptrap is the last thing we need in the debate”. For me, this summed up the illiberal liberalism of the gay-marriage campaign. “You’re entitled to your view; just don’t express it.”

Beyond this observation, however, my gay-marriage scepticism (an awful phrase, I know) is driven by a belief that gay marriage expands rather than diminishes the power of the state over our lives.

The first way it does this is through allowing the state to redefine the moral meaning of marriage. For much of the modern period, the state has brokered marriage, yes. But the moral idea and value of marriage is something that developed organically over centuries through the interplay of communities and traditions. That the gay-marriage campaign grants the state a new, unprecedented authority over how we define our personal relationships and family lives is clear from the relish with which the ruling elites of Canada, the UK and elsewhere have rewritten public documents to excise mentions of “mothers”, “fathers”, “husbands” and “wives” in favour of a more neutral language to suit their homogenisation of all relationships as “marriage”. Those who say “They’re only words, who cares?” clearly don’t know their Orwell: the policing of language is very often a policing of attitudes, a reengineering of societal values so that they better accord with the elite’s view.

The second way the gay-marriage campaign boosts the power of the state is in the realm of moral conscience and freedom of thought. New equality laws have been utilised to punish those who refuse to acknowledge gay marriage. Bakers who won’t make gay cakes have been taken to court. In the midst of the global celebrations that greeted Ireland’s “Yes” vote to gay marriage, few seem to have noticed that the Irish deputy PM said there would be no “conscience clause”, because it would be intolerable to “exclude some people or institutions from the operation of marriage equality”. Through gay marriage, the state — in the shape of the courts, the policing of “hate speech” and the restructuring of moral education in schools — is exercising greater control over what can be thought and said about human relationships.

So that’s my beef with gay marriage: it allows the state to increase its already considerable clout over both our personal/family lives and our consciences. The ugly tactics of the loudest gay-marriage proponents are no accident: they speak to this illiberal heart of gay marriage. There’s one question I’ve asked every liberal I’ve encountered in Australia, all of whom harangue me for my views on gay marriage: why are Western governments that are so allergic to freedom and autonomy passionately embracing gay marriage? They’ve all struggled to answer. I think it’s because gay marriage chimes brilliantly with these governments’ insatiable desire to diminish the sovereignty of the family and intervene more in our personal lives, and to police what we think.

People say Oz is different, because the law was rewritten in 2004 to say marriage is between a man and a woman. They say this means they’re campaigning for less government definition of what is an acceptable relationship. Look, I’m sure Australia is different in some ways. But from the chattering-class intolerance of dissent to your media’s suffocating conformism on this matter, your sameness to the rest of the West is what’s most striking. Sorry, Aussies, but on this you’re not as special as you think.

A final point: Sinclair, like others, says slavery and other bad things also existed for a long time and then disappeared, so what’s the big deal about marriage changing quickly too? To speak about the enslavement of vast swathes of humanity in the same breath as the inability of free, equal, often middle-class gays to get married is grotesquely to diminish that historic crime. What’s more, slavery took centuries to defeat, and its defeat came at the hands of huge numbers of ordinary people, black and white, fighting for freedom; gay marriage, by contrast, is an idea that has spread like mad in less than a decade and which is spearheaded exclusively by elites: lawyers, politicians, media people, think tanks. You can appeal to historical struggles for freedom all you like, but there’s no disguising the illiberalism, elitism and plain weirdness of the gay-marriage contagion.

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92 Responses to Guest Post: Brendan O’Neill – Here’s my beef with gay marriage

  1. David

    Here, here. Well expressed, Brendan.

  2. JC

    Great to see you here dude. We love you like a red headed step child around these parts.

  3. Lysander

    Hear hear, well said Brendan. You got my vote (and yes, I am “silly enough” to vote for a party not based on economics; but morality).

  4. H B Bear

    Plenty of people trying to pass off plain weirdness as mainstream thought these days.

  5. Rabz

    my gay-marriage scepticism … is driven by a belief that gay marriage expands rather than diminishes the power of the state over our lives

    Agreed. This would be my main issue with the demands for SSM – if I didn’t regard the entire concept of a man being married to another man as utterly preposterous.

    Anyway, keep up the good fight, Squire. I love seeing you getting stuck into these dangerous totalitarian imbeciles.

  6. C.L.

    A few of us having been putting this view here for a few years.
    Gay ‘marriage’ = statism.
    Incidentally, the unctuous Persian midget on Q&A is not an exception in Australian public life.
    That type of condescending hate speech against Christian orthodoxy is the norm.

    The more we see of it, in fact, the more clear it becomes that leftist illiberalism vis-a-vis Christians and Christianity is not a bug but a foundational feature – even the raison d’etre – of the marriage demolition putsch. The Western left sees orthodox Christian individuals, groups and churches as the final hold-out against the cultural and state regime change they’ve always wanted. Gay ‘marriage’ is meant to demoralise and psychically wound. But even that is not enough if, post-legalisation, Christians fall back to free speech and religious freedom rallying points. The left’s mopping up operation is to expel Christians from any and all legislative protections and exceptions, making them bake those cakes and employ those ‘married’ lesbians. Prior to success on legalisation, of course, they lie about their intentions to do this. The shamefully stupid thing about many Australian libertarians is that they have taken the word of the zealots that they will never seek to assail the freedoms and consciences of religious – and, for that matter, secular – refuseniks. They actually believe that.

  7. Tom

    Huge fan of your writing and clarity of thought, Brendan.

    I realise your continuing self-designation as a “Marxist” allows you a charmed life of evading the viilification faced by anyone who admits to being from the majority of the population who are not of the left, but how can any self-respecting Marxist advocate a reduction in state power when it ultimately relies on state power to crush its opponents? Or is the Marxist badge just a device you can get away with using because the leftist herd is so stupid and irrational?

    In my opinion, leftism and its ultimate aim, Marxism, have become a simple, but gargantuan theft where its enemies’ money is not just redistributed, but misappropriated for use against the people who provided it. And the left’s capture of 80% of the media merely facilitates that theft by crop-dusting the proletariat with propaganda, disinformation and — just as effectively — silence.

  8. gabrianga

    I may be out of line with the politically c0rrect but I don’t want “equality” with males who prefer sodomising each other to heterosexual intercourse.

    In fact I suggest the shirtlifters find another hobby horse to ride.

  9. tgs

    >Beyond this observation, however, my gay-marriage scepticism (an awful phrase, I know) is driven by a belief that gay marriage expands rather than diminishes the power of the state over our lives.

    Agree.

    The State should not be involved in marriage whatsoever. It is a private contractual matter.

  10. tgs

    Woops, wrong formatting convention. First para should be in blockquotes.

  11. H B Bear

    In fact I suggest the shirtlifters find another hobby horse to ride.

    That’s next.

  12. Andrew

    As Philippa confirmed with the member for DPRFreo, the specific intention of the SLF’s bill is that the full force of HRC law and Triggs be brought on “conscientious objectors.” That’s the official reason they brought a Bill to a parliament that already had 2.

  13. Bushkid

    I’m happy to be a “refusenik” of this so-called marriage equality cause.

    I share Mr. O’Neill’s concern about increased control and imposition of rule and regulation on ordinary citizens who, for whatever reason, are opposed to SSM, or who actually find the concept of male-on-male or female-on-female sex and “love” fundamentally unnatural, repugnant and objectionable.

    A business person (e.g. a maker or wedding cakes or caterer) must have the right to refuse service to any person or group who offends their personal sensibilities or beliefs. To legislate or demand otherwise is to deny an individuals basic human right to act within their good conscience, and is morally wrong and abhorrent. Why is it always the noisy, demanding outliers of society who won’t adjust just a little to blend better with the mainstream society? Why is it that the rest of society has to kow-tow to their precious, “offended” little egos? I’m sick and tired of having this raucous clamour for “marriage equality” rammed down my throat at every turn.

    I will think and feel what I decide is right for me, not what some inadequate bureaucrat pandering to a minority I find objectionable thinks I should. I will act according to my own conscience and nature, not theirs. Stuff them.

  14. Jo Smyth

    Thank you Brendan for expressing my sentiments exactly.

  15. closeapproximation

    Brendan, welcome, you are one badass contrarian ! You always slice things different.

    IMO, this movement has spectacularly failed to give proper consideration to the impacts of a new generation of children having at least one biological parent absent by design & construction.

  16. Aussieute

    Marriage License Office Clerk……
    “Good morning. We want to apply for a marriage license.”
    “Names?”, said the clerk.
    “Tim and Jim Jones.”
    “Jones?? Are you related?? I see a resemblance.”
    “Yes, we’re brothers.”
    “Brothers?? You can’t get married.”
    “Why not?? Aren’t you giving marriage licenses to same gender couples?”
    “Yes, thousands. But we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”
    “Incest?” No, we are not gay.”
    “Not gay?? Then why do you want to get married?”
    “For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don’t have any other prospects.”
    “But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve claim they’d been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman.”
    “Wait a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman. I want to marry Jim.”
    “And I want to marry Tim, Are you going to discriminate against us just because we are not gay?”
    “All right, all right. I’ll give you your license. Next.”

    “Hi. We are here to get married.”
    “Names?”
    “John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green, and June Johnson.”
    “Who wants to marry whom?”
    “We all want to marry each other.”
    “But there are four of you!”
    “That’s right. You see, we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. All of us getting married together is the only way that we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”
    “But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”
    “So you’re discriminating against bisexuals!”
    “No, it’s just that, well, the traditional idea of marriage is that
    it’s just for couples.”
    “Since when are you standing on tradition?”
    “Well, I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.”
    “Who says?? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. The more the better. Besides, we demand our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. Give us a marriage license!”
    “All right, all right. Next.”

    “Hello, I’d like a marriage license.”
    “In what names?”
    “David Anderson.”
    “And the other man?”
    “That’s all. I want to marry myself.”
    “Marry yourself?? What do you mean?”
    “Well, my psychiatrist says I have a dual personality, so I want to marry the two together. Maybe I can file a joint income-tax return.”
    “That does it!? I quit!!? You people are making a mockery of marriage!!”

  17. Delta A

    I read your columns with a great sense of relief that someone intelligent and articulate also possesses the determination to uphold and promote the views of the silent majority. Thank you.

  18. JakartaJaap

    I too am sick of the sodomite circus. Good spray.

  19. nfw

    One of course always reads “spiked” because the prose is so clear and libertarian. I have often said, if the people behind “spiked” are Marxists, I’ll vote for them. I think they are really libertarians but that’s probably a bit bourgeois a term for them. Whatever, may they keep up the good work.

  20. Yohan

    Sinc please consider giving Brendan O’Neill permanent posting rights to this blog, if he wants it.

    He is one of the best writers out there, and is now at war with political correctness, which he recognizes is the real enemy to the average person.

    An example…
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9376232/free-speech-is-so-last-century-todays-students-want-the-right-to-be-comfortable/

  21. Fred

    Opposing gay marriage = bigotry.

    No one has a right to be a bigot.

    When will the first Australian be prosecuted for hate speech for vilifying homosexual marriage?

  22. JC

    One of course always reads “spiked” because the prose is so clear and libertarian. I have often said, if the people behind “spiked” are Marxists, I’ll vote for them. I think they are really libertarians but that’s probably a bit bourgeois a term for them. Whatever, may they keep up the good work.

    Brendan described himself as a libertarian on Q&A.

  23. duncanm

    The State should not be involved in marriage whatsoever. It is a private contractual matter.

    This.

    I’ve argued the same with gay marriage ‘yes-men’ (not advocates, but the average sheeple).. but they don’t seem to like the idea.

  24. duncanm

    Fred says:

    No one has a right to be a bigot.

    and theat’s the nub of another problem.

  25. mundi

    Sorry but I don’t think the right have weighed up the outcomes properly.

    If you look at statistics for lesbians, they are way more likely to be extreme left than the rest of the population. For gay men there is no such correlation, yet.

    Like the civil rights movement in America, the left will claim the moral higher ground, and we could end up with the gay vote being as one sided as the non-white vote in America is.

    Dont forget that at the last election only 6% of greens considered the economy as the important issue, and only 16% for labor. A huge portion of the population don’t understand anything about the economy and will vote mainly for social feel-good reasons.

  26. notafan

    Some of us sheeple are already afraid to speak publically against mocko marriage and yes the infiltration of school curriculum is a major concern.

    Children have such clear vision. They know a man cannot be a women and two men cannot make a baby but they are going to be lied and lied and lied to as soon as they crawl in the door of the child care centre.

  27. Seco

    Loved that last paragraph. Puts to the sword the “struggle” fought by largely wealthy and white people who need to feel victim to something.

  28. Nic

    Either you were a slave or you were free. There was no other measure available . However, same sex couples have the ability to be de facto couples, adopt children and have a civil union. Marriage itself isn’t the same sex cure all that it has been presented as.

  29. Monkey's Uncle

    Good post Brendan.

    why are Western governments that are so allergic to freedom and autonomy passionately embracing gay marriage? They’ve all struggled to answer.

    Part of it is that gay marriage is a phony civil rights campaign, to divert attention from the other areas where governments are restricting freedoms. And for the left, it is a distraction from the fact that they have dropped the ball on other issues such as opposing the growth of the surveillance state.

    We live in an era where many rights and freedoms that have a sound and longstanding basis in our legal traditions are being eroded, and yet at the same time many people are loudly protesting for alleged rights that are not really fundamental rights at all.

  30. A Lurker

    Sinc please consider giving Brendan O’Neill permanent posting rights to this blog, if he wants it.

    He is one of the best writers out there, and is now at war with political correctness, which he recognizes is the real enemy to the average person.

    +100

  31. Pusnip

    Thanks to those who have come out as anti-sodomisers for revealing the bigotry that truly underlies the anti-marriage equality brigade on this website. The straightforward truth is that, from a libertarian viewpoint, government should have no role in defining marriage but that, if it is, it should not be using its coercive powers to enforce discrimination.

  32. A Lurker

    Thanks to those who have come out as anti-sodomisers for revealing the bigotry that truly underlies the anti-marriage equality brigade on this website.

    big·ot (?bi??t/) noun – a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

    So anyone who discriminates against homosexual marriage is a bigot – yet those who discriminate, bully, intimidate and/or use lawfare against those who uphold traditional marriage aren’t bigoted? Maybe you’d argue they are instead the soul of enlightened tolerance.

    Interesting. Your complete lack of self-awareness is enlightening.

  33. Splatacrobat

    A nightclub can refuse entry based on the clothes fashion you wear. If you don’t have “the right look” they just pass you by. If your name’s Bob try joining Fernwoods, CWA, The Sydney Womens club.
    Sorry my club, that has the worlds longest continuous membership of couples who are male and female only says Sod off!!!

  34. jumpnmcar

    A ” marriage licence “, issued by the State to receive perks ?
    Perks that singles, widows or divorcees can’t get.

    The NOs wanna keep this State sanctioned discrimination for just them, the YESs want a share of the discrimination.

    Slap both with the same duck, deregulate marriage, NOW !

  35. Baldrick

    Leftards are evil.

    We should be so lucky to hear more from people like Brendan O’Neill.

  36. stackja

    plain weirdness

    like all Leftist ideas.

  37. Giffy

    Thank you, Brendan O’Neill.

    I agree with Bushkid. Stuff them.

  38. S'

    Never heard any gay “marriage” advocate use the word re-define, it’s always equality. Most telling.

  39. JohnA

    Bushkid #1776377, posted on August 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    A business person (e.g. a maker or wedding cakes or caterer) must have the right to refuse service to any person or group who offends their personal sensibilities or beliefs. To legislate or demand otherwise is to deny an individual’s basic human right to act within their good conscience, and is morally wrong and abhorrent.

    Not to mention that it completely overturns the law of contract, offer and acceptance process. A seller is not offering his product or service. He is inviting buyers to treat ie. to make an offer to buy, which he is then supposedly free to accept or decline.

    Already the “Hooman Rites” jackboot brigade has outlawed some of the bases for refusal, and so far we say “OK, rightly so” because that kind of discrimination is contrary to good conscience – being made on a basis which the buyer cannot fix (physical appearance, ethnicity, and so on. See Margaret Sanger for particularly egregious examples).

    But let’s not go any further down the path of “hooman rites” based on preferences and/or feelings.

  40. C.L.

    Thanks to those who have come out as anti-sodomisers for revealing the bigotry that truly underlies the anti-marriage equality brigade on this website.

    Hey, look – a few comments were off. Likewise, nuns used to be routinely vilified at the Mardi Gras.

    And thanks to the gay ‘marriage’ lobby for confirming its real agenda is bigotry against Christians; and perhaps racist bigotry as well – against almost every non-white person on earth. Remember, in the list of Stuff White Folks Like, gay ‘marriage’ now pips the Beach Boys.

    The straightforward truth is that, from a libertarian viewpoint, government should have no role in defining marriage but that, if it is, it should not be using its coercive powers to enforce discrimination.

    Government has never had a role in defining marriage. That’s like saying the Fisheries Act proves the government defines the ocean. Marriage has only had one definition, gender-wise, since the beginning of time. The gay ‘marriage’ lobby now wants the state to use its monopoly on violence to ban the meaning of marriage and move to punitively assault those who protest.

  41. JohnA

    Pusnip #1776485, posted on August 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks to those who have come out as anti-sodomisers for revealing the bigotry that truly underlies the anti-marriage equality brigade on this website. The straightforward truth is that, from a libertarian viewpoint, government should have no role in defining marriage but that, if it is, it should not be using its coercive powers to enforce discrimination.

    Ye gods, how many logical fallacies can we find in one short par? How many factual errors?

    Pusnip, you will never reach the giddy trolling heights of the famous Hamster with a par like that.

    1. Governments do not define marriage, they recognsie and constrain it via the Marriage Act
    2. The gaystapo is already using those coercive powers to enforce their brand of discrimination
    3. There is already marriage equality within Australia – all forms of anti-homosexual discrimination were removed from legislation by the previous (er, that is, Labor) government
    4. Care to define bigotry for us? And beware, your definition had better be commutative (I’ll explain it after you provide your definition).
    5. The current proposals to re-define who may marry whom are attempting to change the basis for marriage from fixed biology/gender to variable emotion/feeling, without any consideration of the ramifications for the Family Law Act.

  42. JohnA

    C.L – time for a high five? 🙂

  43. Chris M

    Well put Brendan, agree 100%.

    It’s not at all clear how many homosexuals will actually seek to be “married” and remain so if they get their demand. The majority seem more interesting in hunting down fresh twinks.

  44. Turtle of WA

    Well said Brendan. Your clarity of analysis and adherence to your principles is to be commended.

  45. jumpnmcar

    Government has never had a role in defining marriage.

    Bullshit.

  46. Sinc, please give Aussieute permanent posting rights!

  47. Rob MW

    Well said Brendan. Principle trumps the fallacy of amoral equivalence every time.

  48. Peter

    my gay-marriage scepticism … is driven by a belief that gay marriage expands rather than diminishes the power of the state over our lives

    All you have to do is ask -yet again – the question, “Will this proposal all increase or decrease the number of relationships that are regulated by government?”. Since when do “Libertarians” support increased government regulation?

    My scepticism is based on the fundamental dishonesty of most of the arguments advanced for this change.

    It’s not about the right to be happy. Government has never supplied happiness, nor can it regulate it. Every one of us has relationships that make important contributions to our happiness, yet friendships and a great many familial relationships are neither regulated not recognised by government.

  49. struth

    A left wing libertarian is an oxymoron.
    It helps getting his message out to say he’s left wing I suppose.
    Psst…your not left wing anymore.
    We won’t tell.
    Brilliant stuff.
    Marriage is not between just two people.
    It is there declaration to their community and that community recognising it and blessing it.
    The gays hated marriage and rallied against it for many years.
    Have they just worked out another way to attack it?
    If you want the people recognition you must take it to the people and they will decide.
    It is not up to government.
    They are just the record keepers for the people.

  50. None

    Brendan has been writing about the illiberalism of gay marriage for some years in various forums (Spiked, UK Telegraph, Australian etc) and his has been the view that has resonated with mine. In fact the last time I pointed out (under another moniker) the illiberalism of gay marriage, and the illiberalism of the libertarians who demand gay marriage, and how it represented a massive state intrusion, C.L. thought it a liberty quote and Dot had a hissy fit and got me banned.

    If Brendan is a radical Marxist then I’m with the Marxists on this.

    Thank you Sinclair for allowing Brendan to post his reply here.

  51. dover_beach

    Pusnip:

    Thanks to those who have come out as anti-sodomisers for revealing the bigotry that truly underlies the anti-marriage equality brigade on this website.

    Ah yes, and the ‘Ditch the witch’ sign truly reflected the misogyny of Gillard’s critics, clown.

  52. struth

    I am learning all the time.
    To be anti sodomy is bigotry.
    Therefore muslims are bigots.
    The left are beyond parody and gutless hypocrites.
    Selective PC.

  53. mareeS

    I don’t give a flying fig about what blokes or ladies do with one another in the privacy of their houses. It’s their business.

    However, it is also my business that I made a vow under God, for life to my husband, for better or worse, sickness and health, until death etc etc. And he made the same vow to me.

    That vow has actually saved his life at one point, and also mine. If you can’t rely on the person to whom you have made your deepest personal pledge, then where are you? Might as well be in a nursing home, eh?

  54. Yohan

    People like Brendan O’Neill, Frank Furedi e.t.c used to consider themselves on the left, they were Marxists anarchists.

    They now find themselves on the right, due to the shift in politics. The progressive left has gone full retard authoritarian. The US sociologist Keith Preston (another Marxist who now finds himself on the right) has a great term for the new leftist politics, Totalitarian Humanism.

  55. mareeS

    Also, I would never withdraw my deepest vow from my husband, because he is a champion, the finest man.

  56. Frank Zeleniuk

    Just like to comment on this. I am Canadian but this is not a typical Canadian view.

    Economic growth depends somewhat on a division of labour and a confidence in the monetary system. Marriage in the beginning was about men and women and complementary roles within the division of labour. The men supplying the muscle for protection and heavy labour and the women supplying the organizational skills for the running of a household and the biological function of reproduction to supply progeny to look after them once they were aged and their muscle and organizational skills were diminished.
    This was a very convenient arrangement that was not only complementary between husband and wife but inter-generationally. Under this arrangement SSM and/or alternative lifestyles would never have been considered an option. There is just no social or individual economic advantage. Marriage used to contribute to individual and familial stability, and thus social and economic stability.

    It’s a different world today. The complementary roles in marriage have deteriorated and there is a blurring of these roles and their purposes. The gradual recognition of the sanctity of private property has reduced the necessity for protection, and where gun laws are not prohibitive, (not applicable in Australia so I hear) muscle is even less necessary for protection. The roles today are pretty much identical so there is really no economic advantage to marriage except those privileges granted by government, and they mostly concern inheritance laws or tax incentives or benefits regarding the rearing of children.
    Ludwig von Mises has focused on praxeology and axiomatically determined that men act, essentially for their benefit. this is where Keynesian economics fails. They assume to know what action the collective should and will be making in their choices. Austrian economics does not assume that the acts of the individual can be known with any certainty, let alone predict the actions of the collective, prediction being an entrepreneurial skill. Keynesians, in their folly, believe it is a government skill. We shouldn’t be surprised when individual self-determined choice does not mirror whatever our own choice would be and other choices may appear to someone else to be rather bizarre. I would go so far as to say that the education and experience of the individual that provides the data to him for logical decision not only contains erroneous data and wrong conclusions but information that he does not even evaluate resulting in those seemingly bizarre choices not just in economics but in life, such as alternative sexual choices. Any probe deeper into this is the proper study of behaviorists but they themselves seem to have their own blind spots and for the past century they’ve led us way off track with a curious concern for the physical and a total abandonment of the metaphysical or spiritual. Science replacing religion, I suppose.

    Anyway, modern marriage evolved to, not a division of labour but an equal partnership. More women, with technology reducing total household labour hours and intensity, started to go out to find work when the kids were in school or grown up in order to supplement the family income and improve their standard of living or top up the retirement pot. Upward mobility became the common role of both partners. Previously, bringing home the bacon, as it were, was more the role of the male. Marriage was then not really as important to the two partners except in combining incomes to improve lifestyle. With the urbanziation of the populace due to industrialization and a moving away from the rural agricultural model families started shrinking in size. One or two children, or zero, is the norm today as opposed to the 10 or twelve of 80-100 years ago.
    The government’s contribution to this trend was to increase income taxes and enact such things as social security, as in government pension plans, old age security and debasing the money through inflation by moving to fiat currencies. Soon more than one income was necessary for even a small family.
    With the blurring of roles in marriage, marriage itself became less necessary, and common law marriage came into vogue. This is where government first started to redefine the word marriage. Common law marriage was legally recognized. This was to satisfy inheritance laws and divorce laws, to provide a legal avenue for property disputes in separation. It was a boon to divorce lawyers as is SSM.
    Really, I think there is a dual purpose to calls for SSM. Primarily, it is to provide the same legal avenue to divorce and inheritance laws. Secondarily, it is to give it a sense of normalcy and acceptance. Both of these are calls for equality. A tertiary and more insidious purpose may be a form of revenge and an intent to stain the term marriage by poking a stick in the eye of the religious origination of, and connection to marriage. Really, to gain legal benefit, it is not necessary to redefine marriage at all and the term can be left intact by including the legal government advantages in the term “civil union”. But then, from a libertarian view, there would be no scramble to get government benefits as there wouldn’t be any or would there be any concern about redefining marriage. Certainly, everyone deserves the same individual rights but no group should be demanding rights for themselves from government above and beyond that. The intervention of the government into marriage, of course inevitably results in further intervention and up the progressive ladder to totalitarianism we go.

  57. JohnA

    Yohan #1777121, posted on August 25, 2015 at 12:59 am

    People like Brendan O’Neill, Frank Furedi e.t.c used to consider themselves on the left, they were Marxists anarchists.

    They now find themselves on the right, due to the shift in politics. The progressive left has gone full retard authoritarian. The US sociologist Keith Preston (another Marxist who now finds himself on the right) has a great term for the new leftist politics, Totalitarian Humanism.

    Yohan, the leftists/Marxists/whatever label were always totalitarian. As were the national socialists and fascists. They were always on about control of others. They wanted to be as God to everybody else. That is, they succumbed to the first temptation of the devil to Adam and Eve…

  58. NoRainbowFlag

    The gays banner, the rainbow flag, is clearly racist – there’s no black in it!

  59. whyisitso

    I realise your continuing self-designation as a “Marxist” allows you a charmed life

    I’m not sure what Brendan is trying to achieve by designating himself as a Marxist, but Spiked’s continuing support of totalitarian Russia gives us some clues. Spiked and O’Neill are fakes,

  60. Lawrie Ayres

    I can’t wait to vote on both the SSM and Recognition questions. I am going to vote no to both and the sooner we can have the vote the better. I am sick and tired of being bullied into thinking in the proscribed manner of the elitists.

    Of the subject. The current down turn in the world economy should put the Paris Climate Fraud to bed for good.

  61. whyisitso

    I am learning all the time.
    To be anti sodomy is bigotry.
    Therefore muslims are bigots.

    But to say Muslims are bigots is bigotry.

  62. Robert Blair

    JohnA:

    your definition had better be commutative

    Sorry JohnA, leftist moral positions, by definition, are not commutative.

    Your bad.

  63. Slavery?

    The Christian worldview was the driving force behind the ending of slavery. Gay marriage is part of a secular humanist war against the Christian worldview. Slavery is therefore quite possibly going to return in future.

  64. Sinclair Davidson

    As It turns out I’m very sympathetic to Brendan’s argument – and to Phillipa’s argument on the original post on this topic. The status quo should have moral authority as being the outcome of choices and decisions that have been previously made. But people can and do change their minds. That is the point – we change out minds and move to a new status quo. It happens all the time.

    I enjoyed Brendan’s piece – and thank you for writing it – but I’m still not convinced. Especially unconvinced by this bait and switch tactic:

    To speak about the enslavement of vast swathes of humanity in the same breath as the inability of free, equal, often middle-class gays to get married is grotesquely to diminish that historic crime.

    Yet nobody is suggesting that slavery and gay marriage are equivalent issues. I am suggesting that attitudes to both these issues changed.

  65. motherhubbard'sdog

    So, sinc, does your being unconvinced by Brendan’s argument mean that you think the state should have a role in marriage? What would be the argument against simply repealing the Marriage Act holus bolus?

  66. Sinclair Davidson

    I don’t think the state should have a role in marriage I think the state does have a role in marriage. I have lived that conviction. Mrs D and I didn’t get married for many years because I refused to pay money to the government for a marriage licence. We only got married when (after) we had kids.

    There is no argument against repealing the marriage act – or indeed David Leyonhjelm’s deregulation of marriage. But nobody is talking about that.

    In the meantime I can see no reason why a particular class of citizen (who engage in lawful behaviour) shouldn’t access the marriage act.

  67. Peter

    Sinc…..

    Boiled down, your argument is that if we have regulation, we should have more regulation.

    And you are wrong. Plenty of us are arguing for a reduced role for government in marriage, if not elimination of it.

  68. Peter

    In the meantime I can see no reason why a particular class of citizen (who engage in lawful behaviour) shouldn’t access the marriage act.

    You are ignoring the issue of qualification…..

    There are many examples of rights and legislation that people cannot access because they don’t QUALIFY.

    I do not qualify for maternity leave because I am neither female, nor pregnant.
    I don’t qualify to fly a jet fighter because I lack the physical attributes and the training.
    I don’t qualify to call myself a “Professor” because I don’t have your qualifications.
    Sixteen year olds don’t qualify to vote or purchase alcohol.
    12 year olds don’t qualify to get married.

    This case has been made time and time again. A couple qualifies to be married by meeting certain criteria. Both being human. Both being of the age of consent. Both being sufficiently distantly related or not related at all. Both not being currently married to someone else.
    All qualifications that have nothing to do with homosexuality, but which deny people “access to the marriage act”.

    Get over this rubbish that homosexuals are uniquely discriminated against.

  69. motherhubbard'sdog

    There is no argument against repealing the marriage act – or indeed David Leyonhjelm’s deregulation of marriage. But nobody is talking about that.

    Obviously Leyonhjelm is, for a start.

  70. dover_beach

    Yet nobody is suggesting that slavery and gay marriage are equivalent issues. I am suggesting that attitudes to both these issues changed.

    Yeah, sure, ‘attitudes change’, but what does that observation actually accomplish here? It has no normative force. Why would this observation actually convince anyone to change their mind about anything.

    In the meantime I can see no reason why a particular class of citizen (who engage in lawful behaviour) shouldn’t access the marriage act.

    Because a relationship involving mm/ ff does not constitute a marriage seems a strong, nay, decisive reason. It isn’t a class of person but a class of relationship that is denied the name, marriage.

  71. notafan

    Funny how often people living defacto get married when children come along. My young nieces demanded that their parents marry. Their parents complied with their children’s wishes.
    My nieces wanted proof of their parent’s commitment to their family.
    Marriage is both unitive and procreative.
    People who marry with no intention of having their own shared biological children simply don’t know what marriage is.
    This applies to both homosexuals and heterosexual couples who avoid children through contraception and abortion.

  72. Damien Spillane

    Well said, Brendan! That so many libertarians in Oz want the state to recognise *more* not less relationships is truly baffling. SSM isn’t a step towards privatising marriage.

    Thanks for speaking out on this!

  73. bill from bendigo

    Have a look at the SSM debate going on at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_Australia You might possibly join in.

  74. William

    Brendan I thought you had moved from the authoritarian left to the libertarian left, now I see you really have become profoundly conservative. Bravo!

  75. Sinclair Davidson

    Sixteen year olds don’t qualify to vote or purchase alcohol.

    Great example. In the bad old days nobody voted. Then white male property owners voted. Then literate white males voted. Then all white males voted. Then all white people voted.

    I can go on but you get the idea.

  76. DrBeauGan

    Thanks Brendan for some acute observations.

    I am very little concerned with the feelings of Christians on this subject and even less concerned with the feelings of homosexuals, there are fewer of them.

    My concern is for the integrity of language. This is important. Lefties have long been aware of the point dramatised by Orwell in 1984, that you can control people by giving them categories in which to think. Redefining words has colossal consequences in that it changes the way in which people think about things. Lots of things only tangential to the original term.

    When government does this we are in desperate trouble. It is totalitarian to a shocking degree.

  77. Ronald Olden

    This is a strangely non libertarian approach for a so called ‘Libertarian’ publication. What any of us accepts and recognises as a ‘marriage’ has nothing to do with the state. All the state can do is define what is marriage for legal purposes. It would be a peculiar Libertarian who relied upon the dictate of the state when it came to determining what he himself is ‘moral’. But by definition the state decides what is the law. I think foxhunting is immoral but being a Libertarian (as far as is practicable), I oppose the ban in the UK. If Mr O’Neill doesn’t want to recognise a marriage between two same sex couples that’s up to him, just as some even now to not recognise opposite sex marriages unless they have taken place in Church. But Mr O Neill is not entitled to insist on laws which deny legal recognition to any ‘marriage’. It is right than no church, save perhaps for the Church of England which is a State Church must be obliged to counduct gay marraiages. But the State is entitled to in it’s that its Registry Offices conduct them if the State itself wishes to recognise them that is up to the members of the State. It is now pretty well settled that in most of the English speaking world more than 70% of people support Gay marriage. Even the US has a small but increasing majority in favour. That majority is not entitled to require that minority religious groups comply with its’ beliefs. But neither are the minority entitled either to dictate to the majority when it comes to refusing to recognise Gay marriage in a secular setting, nor to other religious groups who wish to recognise it in their own churches.

  78. Pedro

    Let me see if I can find the logic here. The State allowing gay marriage is an insidious attempt to expand the power of the State because:

    1 Marriage existed before the State as a popular concept.

    2 The State adopted and regulated marriage.

    3 If the State responds to popular demands and extends marriage to gays that is an insidious expansion of the State.

    Rriiight.

  79. Peter Johnson

    Great article – thought provoking and a realistic appraisal of “the Great Debate” about the ‘rights’ of all people to have different views than those espoused by much of the media and not be labelled as deviant wowsers, etc, etc.

  80. John Hooper

    Brendan, you really don’t understand the relationship between marriage and the State.

    Never mind who you’re touching up, how you feel about them, what cock’n’bull you call spirituality or the party you throw called a wedding. That’s a red herring.

    The State is interested in the legal contract you’ve entered into as partners. You soon find this out when you try to break it, one partner dies or when one of you attempt to procure a more formal visa into the other’s country.

    The State also reserves the right to grant a couple the right to adopt and the right to take that child away if it’s neglected or abused.

    Is there a partnership between two humans that would be unfit from the outset as “parents.” Well, it would be pretty easy to argue against the product of incest baring children, but what would be the legal argument against them contractually adopting them?

    This is the sober side of the legal partnership we call marriage.

    The rest is distraction.

  81. dover_beach

    Let me see if I can find the logic here. The State allowing gay marriage is an insidious attempt to expand the power of the State because:

    1 Marriage existed before the State as a popular concept.

    2 The State adopted and regulated marriage.

    3 If the State responds to popular demands and extends marriage to gays that is an insidious expansion of the State.

    Rriiight.

    The problem is your first premise. That should be 1. Marriage is a pre-political institution.

  82. dover_beach

    The State is interested in the legal contract you’ve entered into as partners. You soon find this out when you try to break it, one partner dies or when one of you attempt to procure a more formal visa into the other’s country.

    The State also reserves the right to grant a couple the right to adopt and the right to take that child away if it’s neglected or abused.

    Is there a partnership between two humans that would be unfit from the outset as “parents.” Well, it would be pretty easy to argue against the product of incest baring children, but what would be the legal argument against them contractually adopting them?

    This is the sober side of the legal partnership we call marriage.

    That would exclude same-sex partnerships as such a partnership is not oriented towards children.

  83. A Lurker

    Children being brainwashed by Marxists in the NSW School system.

    Tip of the iceberg indeed. If this change to society becomes Law, expect the brainwashing and the thought-policing to amp up by multiple degrees.

  84. Let’s see if third time’s a charm.

    Great example. In the bad old days nobody voted. Then white male property owners voted. Then literate white males voted. Then all white males voted. Then all white people voted.

    Example of what, per chance? Attitudes changing? Or people coming to a more true appreciation of voting rights? If you want to make the latter argument in relation to marriage you actually have to present arguments that same-sex relationships are identical to the marital relationship. If the former, then you could not properly describe ‘nobody voting’ as the “bad old days’; since, “attitudes changing” cannot carry the normative load required by the qualifier ‘good’.

    Moreover, that ‘attitudes might change’ in respect of marriage is really not in dispute. People can take marriage more or less seriously, they may marry later, earlier or not at all, their beginnings may be arranged or romantic, and so on. However, in this instance, it’s not our attitude to marriage that has changed (although some of these attitudinal changes may play a role in the latter), but what we think constitutes marriage that has apparently changed. And it cannot be said that the change envisioned doesn’t reconstitute marriage radically such that it is inconsistent with how marriage has been understood hitherto; the same could not be said about voting or slavery, for instance.

  85. Strange, a comment of mine continues to not post even when substantially added to. Even posting from different devices doesn’t help.

  86. Let’s see if third time’s a charm.

    Great example. In the bad old days nobody voted. Then white male property owners voted. Then literate white males voted. Then all white males voted. Then all white people voted.

    Example of what, per chance? Attitudes changing? Or people coming to a more true appreciation of voting rights? If you want to make the latter argument in relation to marriage you actually have to present arguments that SSRs are identical to the marital relationship. If the former, then you could not properly describe ‘nobody voting’ as the “bad old days’; since, “attitudes changing” cannot carry the normative load required by the qualifier ‘good’.

    Moreover, that ‘attitudes might change’ in respect of marriage is really not in dispute. People can take marriage more or less seriously, they may marry later, earlier or not at all, their beginnings may be arranged or romantic, and so on. However, in this instance, it’s not our attitude to marriage that has changed (although some of these attitudinal changes may play a role in the latter), but what we think constitutes marriage that has apparently changed. And it cannot be said that the change envisioned doesn’t reconstitute marriage radically such that it is inconsistent with how marriage has been understood hitherto; the same could not be said about voting or slavery, for instance.

  87. Response to Sinc @2.08pm.

    Example of what, per chance? Attitudes changing? Or people coming to a more true appreciation of voting rights? If you want to make the latter argument in relation to marriage you actually have to present arguments that SSRs are identical to the marital relationship. If the former, then you could not properly describe ‘nobody voting’ as the “bad old days’; since, “attitudes changing” cannot carry the normative load required by the qualifier ‘good’.

    Moreover, that ‘attitudes might change’ in respect of marriage is really not in dispute. People can take marriage more or less seriously, they may marry later, earlier or not at all, their beginnings may be arranged or romantic, and so on. However, in this instance, it’s not our attitude to marriage that has changed (although some of these attitudinal changes may play a role in the latter), but what we think constitutes marriage that has apparently changed. And it cannot be said that the change envisioned doesn’t reconstitute marriage radically such that it is inconsistent with how marriage has been understood hitherto; the same could not be said about voting or slavery, for instance.

  88. Ok, spam filter must have hated Sinc’s references to ‘white’ since all it required was removing quotation of Sinc.

  89. Sinclair Davidson

    Dover – I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. I’m just wondering why its an argument against gay marriage?

  90. Dover – I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. I’m just wondering why its an argument against gay marriage?

    Directly, it isn’t, but it certainly is an argument against the use of ‘attitudes changes’ for gay ‘marriage’. The argument against gay ‘marriage’ is that SSRs do not constitute marriage as historically understood, and that to redefine marriage so that it does would radically alter marriage. So far, the attempts by proponents of gay ‘marriage’ to quarantine the spread of potential marriage redefinition given their own premises have been pretty dismal.

  91. [email protected]

    Has gay “marriage” taken on the characteristics of a religion, where disagreement is treated as heresy?

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