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Worth reading

November 27th, 2010

A moving post on marriage rights from reader and occasional CT commenter Tim Scriven.

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  1. Purp Traitor
    November 27th, 2010 at 14:51 | #1

    A very nice sentiment, and no, I have no problem with the government legislating on this.

    However I do think the argument is entirely semantic. A legally protected (normally) sexually active voluntary relationship between two people could be called anything, and civil partnership to me seems perfectly fit for purpose. But to take the word marriage and apply it to a new variant appears to me to be an attempt at hijacking some perceived esteem of the original along with an assumption that this will apply to the new entity.

    This is why every nouveau car manufacturer in Asia produces sports cars, but this does not fool either Porsche owners or potential buyers of said Asian cars who know full well they are not getting even close a facsimile of the real thing. Just naming it doesn’t make it so.

    While the reactionary argument to defend the current term may be seen as socially conservative I personally would like to see a new term adopted for the legal support of any cohabiting relationship. And most academics I know would not be strangers to this line of defence, to my mind often becoming incredibly reactionary when their favourite terms, such as graduate, doctorate or professor are purloined by the academically disenfranchised for similar reasons.

  2. Alice
    November 27th, 2010 at 17:05 | #2

    Im inclined to agree. Last night I watched a Bruno film for the first time. I nearly split my sides laughing (not at the way he shocks but at the way the most rigidly insane people in the united statesb that just cant handle homosexuality). That is far more scary – we had the redneck bush lovers with Bruno trying to sneak into their tent in the night, the people who attend macho wrestling matches who thought he was “straight Dave”, the converted christian homosexuals who wanted to get Bruno away from his homosexuality because it was a terrible sin and they understood because they had been there but in the meantime found Jesus and the error of their ways and were now out to save other like minded souls….
    What I really laughed at wasnt Bruno but the ill mannered ignorant people who are also homophobic in the United States. I thought some were going to kill him. Actually he has done more to advance tolerance of homosexuality than anyone I can think of…plus he is simply hilarious (if a bit rude). He even got a republican senator in a hotel room on camera and tried to seduce him and the senator went berserk (if it was staged it was done so well…).

    I laughed so hard I nearly cried. Bruno is a genius.
    They should have had the same rights and freedoms and deregulations the neoliberals gave recklessly to business decades ago. Would have been freedom better given.

  3. November 27th, 2010 at 22:45 | #3

    It may be excessively unromantic but I tend to just see marriage as one point in the spectrum of legal arrangements that allow people to act as joint legal entities ie like private companies, public companies, partnerships, clubs, co-ops, etc. On that basis I don’t see why there can’t be a type of marriage/civil union that involves more than two people and any combination of genders with the main issue being shared property and shared responsibility for any children. I suppose a limit of about 5-6 individuals might be appropriate.

  4. Fran Barlow
    November 28th, 2010 at 08:22 | #4

    @Ian Milliss

    Hear! Hear!

    I’ve made this point a number of times. It is interesting that I’m far from the only one.

    That said, if the LGBT community wishes to call their life commitments “marriage” I can’t imagine why anyone would be entitled to object. Perhaps it’s one of those “positional goods” things with a strong cultural referent, but it’s an ugly attitude.

  5. Alice
    November 28th, 2010 at 09:35 | #5

    @Ian Milliss
    I have only one objection Ian – when it comes to children the directors should not get the limited liability in the event of failure of the corporation (?marriage inc) despite the fact that John Howard has already advanced limited liability by any other name to mostly fathers in this country, leaving mostly mothers to pick up the shortfall.

  6. November 28th, 2010 at 12:04 | #6

    @Alice
    Unlimited liability of course.

    It just seems to me that the emotional baggage surrounding “marriage” distracts from the fact that it is just one member of a particular category of legal arrangements each of which has its own characteristics that could probably benefit from being put in a more rigorous but flexible and graduated framework with temporary coupling at one end and public companies at the other. Most of us recognise already that marriage is virtually the same as a business partnership. A more considered range of possibilities, some flexible and others mandatory (eg no limited liability in regard to supporting children) would mean that you could design your legal entity by choosing to subscribe (or not) to a smorgasbord of standardised conditions regarding prior assets, division of future assets, responsibilites for children from previous relationships etc and with the possibility of more than one partner and no limitations of gender.

    We’ve grown blind to the contradictions in the christian religious position which logically should forbid the marriage of anyone unable to have children for any reason and we are equally blind to the fact that a range of other arrangements seem to function around the world whether in the form of mormon or islamic polygamy or matriarchal Minangkabau or Tibetan polyandry, and so on. Of course none are perfect but neither is our “marriage is really serious, it’s a 3 year commitment” model of heterosexual coupling.

  7. November 28th, 2010 at 13:36 | #7

    FWIW I luke-warmedly support gay marriage on conservative grounds. Gays are obviously intent on settling down in the suburbs now. The least straights can do is accommodate them.

    The conservative case for gay marriage is strong. If gays are married, mortgaged and parental then they will be more likely to be god-fearing, tax-paying, hard-working boring citizens like the rest of us. Less likely to get up to self-harming forms of mischief which irrupted when so many single gay men kicked over the traces in the seventies.

    And once gays have become established citizens they will be less inclined to conduct themselves outrageously in public in defence of their civil rights. These days that kind of thing alienates more people than it attracts.

    Not that gay rights advocacy is ineffective. You can’t deny the pester power of the liberal media-academia complex, which has been in full court press on this issue since the advent of the ALP government, in bringing it to the fore of public agenda. I would do anything to get this incessant barrage of propaganda to stop, even if it meant agreeing with a GREEN.

    So lets get gay marriage over with so we can focus on matters of greater substance, such as wresting our economic system back from kleptocratic plutocrats.

  8. Douglas
    November 28th, 2010 at 19:54 | #8

    Like Senator Bob Brown I am gay. Like Senator Bob Brown, I am a Green. Like Senator Bob Brown, I feel no need to rush into “marriage”. I have lived with the same man for 38 years. Our relationship does not depend on the legality of same-sex “marriage”, or otherwise. The current Government has removed most of the financial and other impediments to our relationship; e.g. we are both ex-Commonwealth Public servants, and can now access each other’s superannuation. We accept that we are also no longer able to be treated as singles by Centrelink, and should we choose to access benefits, will now be treated exactly the same as heterosexual couples, married or de facto. So there are some losses, but mostly gains from the current situation.

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