Gay Marriage for Dummies

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

It's often amusing to see the excuses contrived in an attempt to defend the morally indefensible. In the case of the opposition to gay marriage, however, the convoluted arguments aren't funny. A lot of people are being hurt and denied their human rights. Me, I'm getting kinda pissed off about living in a country with such a sizeable minority of intolerant dickwads and even more disappointed with Kevin Rudd. The delightful Ann Coulter opines that leftists are way more intolerant than any conservative (which is why you so often hear of Christian bashings in San Francisco). Well, today I'm going to be tolerant, so here is a simple rebuttal of some of the stupid "arguments" against gay marriage:

If we let a man marry a man, next he'll be allowed to marry a dog.
And while we're at it, why not then let that dog vote, drive a car and buy beer? The man can't legally have sex with the dog either, and he can with another man (as long as, you know, everyone wants to). This is about people...whom the right historically don't care much about.

Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.
It's just a pity this doesn't specify which man and woman, or what the rest of us are supposed to do. Seriously though, Piers Akerman has been spewing forth this nonsense lately. Technically it's true under current law (which is the whole problem!) but so what? Historically the definition of marriage was "man and wife" - the wife was her husband's possession, she promised to obey him, and had few rights in the marriage. Now that's changed, all but a few accept marriage as the joining of equal partners; so it is possible to change the definition of marriage. Akerman and his ilk just don't want to.

Gay Marriage is a threat to straight marriage/the traditional family
I think Al Franken (married for 34 years) said it best: " I never figured out how gay marriage is a threat to heterosexual marriage. I look at a gay male couple, for example, and I don't go, 'Boy, that looks good,' ". Seriously, find me one hetero couple in Australia whose marriage would be threatened if gays were allowed to marry. (If it's a sham marriage to cover up the homosexuality of one or both parties anyway, that doesn't count). You know what's a threat to straight marriage? Umm...DIVORCE!

Gay marriage is forbidden by the Bible.
Okay, let's suppose we should allow the laws of Australia to be dictated by a book most of the population would never have looked at. It's true that Leviticus 18:22 states "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (so either the Bible should not be read by women, or all women should be lesbians). I'll allow religious conservatives this point if they agree to stop praying if they need glasses or a rash: "For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles; no man of the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer The Lord's offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God." (Leviticus 21:18-21) (for more on Homosexuality and the Bible, see here).

It's all pretty ridiculous. In fact if my fiancee and I have a civil marriage ceremony, by law the celebrant is required to say: “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”. I'm not standing in front of the people I dearly love who are denied their civil rights, whilst someone says those words. So we're considering not getting legally married until those words are gone. So gay marriage is turning into a threat to straight marriage, though not the way the conservatives intended.

Justice and Punishment

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

What with the recent fortieth anniversary of the Manson family murders, it's worth asking - why are the Manson women still in prison?

They are now all in their early sixties, serving time for crimes they committed while only just old enough to vote. They've expressed remorse for what they've done. They are highly unlikely to re offend and are little danger to society. But there's no likelihood they will be released in the near future. So - what purpose does society fulfill keeping them in jail? Are some crimes simply too monstrous to forgive?

The overwhelming reason the Manson women are likely to die in jail is, of course, that no politician wants to be known as the person that freed the Manson girls; it would cause community outrage. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger knows he'd be eaten alive by Fox News if it happened. But what about the feelings of the victims' families? Whilst I have great compassion for their sufferings, it's important to note we have a justice system for many reasons - and one is to represent all involved with fairness. A fairness that, as a grieving relative, it is understandably difficult to display. Susan Atkins is dying of brain cancer, having lost a leg and with months left to live. However, Sharon Tate's sister Debra opposed Atkins' release on compassionate grounds, saying "She will be set free when judged by God. It's important that she die in incarceration." Such a view is understandable but should Debra Tate be the one making the decision?

Surely justice has been served already with regard to the Manson women. They have served 40 years each in prison - longer than most convicted murderers. The chance for them to do anything meaningful with their post-prison lives is over; they cannot have children or pursue careers. Their continued incarceration serves no purpose other than to fulfill our desire as a society for punishment, for revenge. But is that, in this case, okay?
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