Things I Don’t Understand . . . No. 2

30 November 2011

Why is the Prime Minister giving a conscience vote on changes to the Marriage Act (to allow same-sex couples to marry)?

She says it’s so that MPs can vote according to their own values.

Firstly, I don’t see much evidence that many of them HAVE any values:  a more ethically-challenged group of people it would be difficult to find.

Secondly, why is the PM herself going to vote against it?  She claims to be an atheist and I’ve never heard an argument against the changes that doesn’t bring in religion somewhere or other.  Is it just because she doesn’t want to alienate a (small) group of people?  The majority of the country is in favour of it, by the way.

And thirdly, nobody is suggesting that the churches should be forced to marry same-sex couples.  And marriage celebrants (performing civil marriages) will have the same freedom they have now.  They’re independent and can choose not to marry anybody they wish. 

The previous Prime Minister, John Howard, was fond of saying that marriage was for the procreation of children so marriage between same-sex couples wasn’t valid.  I got married, as do many couples, in the full knowledge that children wouldn’t (and couldn’t)  result.   I therefore find it particularly offensive that my marriage isn’t considered ‘valid’ by some sections of the community and for our leaders to suggest such a thing is outrageous.  On that basis, couples would have to produce “fertility certificates” before they’re allowed to tie the knot (and no woman over the age of about 50 would be deemed suitable wife material).

Get over it, and get on with it.  The sky will NOT fall in.  



  1. I don’t understand this either. To be clear, I can’t see the point of marriage (for me), so I don’t really care (personally) whether they ever allow gay marriage. But as a civic rights issue I really don’t get why she seems to be so against it. I find it quite disturbing, to be honest.

    As for allowing a conscience vote – they’re not elected to vote the way their conscience tells them; they’re elected to vote the way their electorate tells them. That’s what democratic representation means.

  2. Perhaps I could be super-generous to her and suggest that (like a number of gay people) she sees marriage as a damaging heteronormative institution and wants to limit its influence. Or perhaps, more realistically, I could suggest that she’s long recognised that for whatever reason the majority of the parliamentary Labor representatives don’t support gay marriage and she doesn’t want to find herself on the losing side of a party struggle.

  3. You’re much nicer than I am Lyn. I agree with what you suggest she may think about marriage, but if it matters to many gay people (probably the majority), they should be listened to.

  4. I’m really surprised re JG voting this way. Weird stuff!

    I’ve done the civil partnership thing (wouldn’t call it marriage, for us it’s a practical arrangement like writing a will). We have straight friends over here who would like the opportunity, wouldn’t get married ever. But I just can’t for the life of me see why anyone would care one way or the other about the marriage/not of other people! Confuses me totally.

    • On the one hand, I feel it’s right and proper that all members of society have equal civil rights. On the other hand, it’s a non-issue with me. Can’t see why anyone would get fussed about it either. Couples who want to get married (straight or gay) can get married. Those who don’t want to, won’t. Their decisions don’t impact on my life, or my marriage, one iota.

      • Exactly!

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