There are moments during a parliamentary debate when I conclude that some of my erstwhile colleagues are doolally. I felt that way when I watched the parliamentary television debate about same-sex marriage. Those favouring the legislation will not give in because they believe same-sex marriage is one of their ‘core values’.
The only way to cope with this nonsense is to ignore the stream of insults that emanate from the mouths of those who see themselves as the vanguard of ‘progressivism’. Those who do not share their views are sneered at, and described as rednecks, bigots and homophobes. They are warned that they will be bitterly opposed in preselection ballots. If they represent an inner city electorate, dominated by the caffe latte set, they will not get to first base. They will not be seen as part of the ‘in’ crowd.
How things have changed. Born during the Depression, I recall as a youth that homosexuality was rarely mentioned except in a ribald manner. It was a criminal offence, and those who were caught were often charged and punished. In the Fifties and Sixties a younger generation became more tolerant, to the point that by the Seventies moves were afoot to decriminalise the practice. That happened on 18 October 1973 when former PM John Gorton moved in the House of Representatives: ‘In the opinion of this House homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law.’ The motion was passed by 64 to 40. That was the beginning, and I’m proud to say that I voted for it alongside 63 others.
Similar legislation was introduced in all states and territories so that gradually our legal system was cleansed of all forms of discrimination against homosexuals. Forgive me for quoting myself, but I can’t think of a better way of putting it than what I wrote in the Australian in January 1995: ‘It concerns me not at all what adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or for that matter their kitchen, bathroom or laundry. Should they choose to stand on their heads, wave their legs in the air or swing from a chandelier, providing they do not do each other a serious mischief, it is, or should be, a matter entirely for them.’ Whenever the opportunity was presented in other legislation I took the same view. Bit by bit all discriminating law was changed so that homosexuals were not disadvantaged. With one exception: the gay community demanded to be able to marry like heterosexuals, and God help anyone who opposed them.
When I first heard that was their next goal, I nearly wet myself thinking what a great sense of humour they have. However, they were deadly serious.
Polls purport to show that the majority of Australians support gay marriage even though the way the question was asked was often suspect. Nevertheless, the gay community have considerable support. That being the case, one wonders why they haven’t demanded a referendum to settle the issue. Why? Because if they lose, it would be a long time before they got another chance. Lack of interest among the general population is the most likely reason. Polls place gay marriage at a very lowly 11th place on most people’s list of priorities.
This is not difficult to understand. Those who support same-sex marriage have seen their views promoted endlessly in major media outlets, while those who believe in traditional marriage as ‘a legal union between a man and a woman’ are ridiculed as troglodytes. The gay community are ultra-sensitive about any slight on their sexual preferences, but are prepared to destroy centuries of tradition that have made marriage the bedrock of our society.
That raises the question: if all the legal impediments have been removed, what do the gay community want? That’s easy — status. If they can destroy the status of heterosexual marriage they will destroy the very basis of our society and the community that marriage has created.
In my lifetime, homosexuality has gone from being a criminal offence, to tolerated, to accepted, to decriminalised, so that the only thing they have not yet suggested is compulsion. What they have not explained are the numerous problems that the restructuring of society will mean. Here are some examples.
Now that homosexuality and heterosexuality are of equal status, the gay community demand equality in every area of our society. Not to guarantee this would be discriminatory. So what will happen when teachers give children lessons on the joys of homosexuality? It will be interesting to hear mum and dad’s reaction when they ask Johnny and Jeanie what they learned today.
Now imagine the public’s reaction when they learn that a future heir to the throne is gay and wants to marry. That should fill Westminster Abbey. Does the Commonwealth have two kings or two queens, or will they add one extra and have a full house? Would it be the first time a nancy boy (or girl) has had the job? State Governors and Governors-General could also demand the same right. The mind boggles at the endless possibilities, including the rewriting of the Bible, the Quran and the Torah.
Common sense should prevail. The gay community should settle for civil union, but that won’t fulfil their aim of destroying marriage. They took a serious battering recently when private members’ bills were defeated in the House of Representatives by 98 votes to 42 and in the Senate by 41 to 26. They claimed it as a victory — like Dunkirk. They’ll have more ‘victories’ like that when the public realise what they are proposing.
Barry Cohen was a Labor minister in the Hawke government.