Thursday, 20 September 2012

Yesterday, legislation which would have allowed

same sex couples to marry failed to get through the House of Representatives in Canberra.
This came as no surprise. It was expected to fail. The Coalition was required to vote against the Bill but, even with a conscience vote, it would have failed. A similar piece of legislation in the Senate is also set to fail. There are two more similar pieces of legislation due to be put before the parliament and they may also fail.
Those who want to see same-sex couples be able to marry say they will continue to fight for the right to do so but, if the next two pieces of legislation also fail, the issue will lose some of its momentum for now.
One of the local Senators spoke out strongly against same sex marriage. He suggested it would lead to demands for polygamy and even bestiality to be made legal. There was immediate outrage at his remarks.
I think he was right that there would be demands made on the polygamy issue and utterly wrong on the bestiality issue. Polygamy has already been raised as an issue. There are members of the Islamic community who would like to see it introduced. They say it is part of the Islamic tradition and that, along with all (or even just some) aspects of Sharia law, it should be introduced into Australia.
One of the local journalists wrote a column in response to the remarks of the Senator. She is firmly for same sex marriage. She suggested it is "balanced" because it is made up just two people. She suggested that polygamy is "imbalanced" because it involves one person of one sex and multiple persons of the other sex - and that alone is reason to refuse to allow it.
After I had read that I thought of someone I know. I do not know him well. His wife had a stroke at the birth of their child. She is alive but she is in a nursing home and appears to have no idea who anyone is. She has been in hospital and then the nursing home for the last seventeen years. He has remained married to her and supports her financially. He lives with another woman now and, each week, they go to visit his wife on their Sunday walk to church and then brunch at a cafe. The other woman has brought up his son as her son and they have another child as well. I know her better than I know him and she accepts the situation. She has been accepted by his family and the family of his wife, indeed they encouraged the relationship.
It's a rare situation and a very sad one in some ways. There are some who would say that here is a case where polygamy should be allowed. Others would say it should not be allowed because marriage vows say "for better or worse"- and they would claim he has done the wrong thing although he has provided his first child with an exceptionally good mother.
I am not making any judgements on either issue here but it does seem to me that nothing is ever quite as simple as it appears to be.


Mily Cannon said...

Unfortunately, there will be upset and outcry which ever way it goes. I can't say I know too much about the subject, but in Scotland there was talk of allowing same-sex marriage but churches and other such venues can refuse the service. I'm not against it at all, I know many same-sex couples who I would love to see happy together, but I don't understand how people can dictate to others what they can and can't do with someone they love. Then again, I'm not religious, so I guess I don't understand the offence it would cause. I only know one thing for sure; you can't please everyone.

jeanfromcornwall said...

It's the "marriage" word that causes so much trouble. I freely allow that any religious organisation is allowed to refuse marriage on grounds of conscience, but when it comes to the civil side we are still in a mess. We have civil partnerships here for two people of the same gender - this gives the partners the same legal rights and protections as those of a mixed gender couple. But this is only allowed if the pair are unrelated.
We had a sad case a few years ago of two sisters in their nineties. They were born, raised and had lived all their lives in their parents' house, and, if one of them died, the other was going to have to sell up and find a new home just to pay the inheritance tax. They applied to have a civil partnership, but were refused, because they were related. They were hardly going to be making incestuous babies were they?!

So, although we may think we are doing well here by having civil partnerships, there are those who want them converted to being called marriages, and there are still plenty of people who cannot gain the civil protection of a partnership, whatever it is called.

catdownunder said...

Hello Mily, Nice to "meet" you!

I think some sort of legal civil union is the likely way it will go but the lobby here will not accept that - for them it is "marriage" or nothing.

Yes Jean - at the point the law really is an ass - and the government should be able to say "No, stay there. We will wait until you die before looking for anything." I suppose they see the problem as being "where do you stop?"