The Same-Sex Marriage Chronicle

Amendment Log
“Homosexuality is unnatural – we should not be recognising a union that goes against nature.” – 2012-03-31
“I don’t care what you call it – just don’t call it marriage.” – 2011-09-09
“Why are we paying so much attention to such a small minority representing x% of the population?” – 2011-09-09
“There are bigger issues.” – 2011-09-08

This is not so much an article as it is a compilation of addresses to proposed straw man arguments from the opposition of same-sex marriage.
This chronicle serves as a reference and ongoing observation; it is subject to change as new arguments and points are raised.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Refer to the Australian Marriage Act 1961:

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Australian law makes it clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. But it was only with the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 that the Marriage Act defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman; clarifying that same-sex marriages entered into under the law of another country will not be recognised in Australia. It was introduced by then federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock.

There is virtually no ambiguity that when the Marriage Act 1961 was penned the senate had only heterosexual marriages in mind. But if this act can be amended to ban and refuse recognition of same-sex marriage then the argument that marriage is defined by law is simply quashed by proposing another amendment bill.

“Marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman.”

Please note that the following is historical information where some societies accepted what is frowned upon by modern Australian culture, e.g., paederasty. The following arguments are not tantamount to condoning these ancient (and in some cases modern) practices; they are simply being stated for the record that what constitutes a “traditional marriage” is ill-defined.

The institution of marriage predates reliably recorded history, but what is clear is that marriage assumed many forms through the course of history from culture to culture; it is widely accepted that marriage was an institution formed to ensure paternal certainty.
Marriage that is regarded as traditional in Australia is by no means traditional in the sense of marriage.

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest recorded laws and out of its two-hundred and eighty-one laws has over thirty laws regarding marriage – all of which only seem to have monogamy in common with a so-called traditional marriage.
Polygamy (better referred to as “polygyny”, the marriage of one man and several women) was common in history, particularly among the wealthy. A man only had as many wives as he could afford to feed.
Polygyny was somewhat accepted to apathetic in Hebrew culture, from ancient to modern historical China, some indigenous American cultures, several Polynesian cultures, and was known to be practiced in ancient India.
Polygamy was accepted in ancient Greece until the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church decreed otherwise. This did little to nil to prevent extramarital affairs, which was condemned at face-value but generally accepted and even viewed as manly.
Polygamy is still legal in most Islamic countries.

Then there is polyandry (a marriage between one woman and several men), which has been practiced as far back as ancient Sumer; this is evident according to inscriptions describing the reforms of the Sumerian king Urukagina of Lagash (ca. 2300 BCE). He is said to have abolished the former custom of polyandry in his country, on pain of the woman taking multiple husbands being stoned with rocks upon which her crime is written.
Polyandry occurred in Saskatchewan Canada, Tibet, Canadian Arctic, northern parts of Nepal, Bhutan, parts of India (Ladakh, Zanskar), the Nymba, and Sri Lanka, and is known to have been present in some pre-contact Polynesian societies, though this is suspected to only have occurred among higher caste women.
Polyandry is also encountered in some regions of Mongolia, among the Mosuo people in China, and in some Sub-Saharan African such as the Maasai people in Kenya and northern Tanzania, American indigenous communities, in the Jaunsar region in Uttarakhand, among the Nairs, Theeyas and Toda of South India, and the Nishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Guanches, the first known inhabitants of the Canary Islands, practiced polyandry until their disappearance.
Saskatchewan Canada is the only jurisdiction in North America to have “judicially sanctioned” polyandrous unions at a family law court level.

Group marriage also existed (sometimes called “polygynandry” from the words “polygyny” and “polyandry”).
Among the Sandwich Islanders (Hawai’ians), the relationship of punalua involved:
“the fact that two or more brothers with their wives, or two or more sisters with their husbands, were inclined to possess each other in common.”
In some parts of Melanesia, there are sexual relations between a group of men formed by the husband’s brothers and a group of women formed by the wife’s sisters.
Toda people, who live on the isolated Nilgiri plateau of Southern India, had practiced adelphic polyandry (a form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers) for centuries.
In North America there was recorded group marriage as existing among the Omahas.
Among the Dieri of Australia existed forms of spouse-sharing known as pirrauru, in two categories according as the man has or has not a tippa-malku wife. In the first case it is, taken in combination with the tippa-malku marriage, a case of bilateral dissimilar adelphic polygamy. In the latter case it is dissimilar adelphic (tribal) polyandry. The pirrauru relation arises through the exchange by brothers of their wives.
Among the Kurnandaburi of Australia, it was customary that a group of men who are own or tribal brothers are united in group marriage.
Among the Wakelbura of Australia, there was adelphic polyandry. Among the Kurnai of Australia unmarried men had access to their brothers’ wives.

Same-sex marriage has also existed throughout history ranging from informal unions to ceremonious institutions.
Ancient Greece practiced paederasty but also had recognised same-sex marriages, as well as pre-Christian Rome. The Roman emperors Nero and Elagabalus had partaken in same-sex unions.
Same-sex marriage existed in some regions of China, such as Fujian and homosexuality was openly revered in ancient Japan (sodomy was restricted by legal prohibition in 1873, thanks to western influence).
In North America, among the Native Americans societies, same-sex unions have taken the form of Two-Spirit-type relationships, in which some male members of the tribe, from an early age, heed a calling to take on female gender with all its responsibilities. They were prized as wives by the other men in the tribe, who enter into formal marriages with these Two-Spirit men. They were also respected as being especially powerful shamans.

What could be defined as “traditional marriage” could fill volumes of diverse practices and customs – little of which could have any relevance to modern western marriage with intent on creating nuclear families.

“Marriage in Australia is traditionally between a man and a woman.”

Referring back to the indigenous peoples of Australia and their known practices within some tribes, this is technically incorrect. It can only be left to assume that this argument is referring to White Australia.

When the First Fleet settlers began colonising Australia in 1788 the predominant religion was Church of England, followed by the high proportion of Irish convicts practicing Catholicism. The Church of England understands itself as both Catholic and Reformed, having seceded from Roman Catholicism in 1534 under the rule of Henry VIII. This action led to several reformations of Christian observance, one such drastic reformation being the ordination of women. The ordination of women as priests was passed in 1992 and began in 1994. According to the 2006 census 19% of Australians identified themselves as Anglican. Knowing this it is fair to say that almost a fifth of Australians already disregard marriage in the traditional sense as they can be married by women rather than exclusively by men.

If this fundamental phallocentric tradition steeped in Catholicism can be shrugged off by the Church of England then there is little weight to hold the argument that “marriage in Australia is traditionally between a man and a woman”.

Tradition and semantics is not reason to discriminate against same-sex marriage.

“Marriage is for the purpose of procreation.”

It is highly likely that marriage came to be for the sake of paternal certainty. But in this modern day and age it is neither a legal obligation nor expected that a married couple necessarily have children, whether intended or not.

Childless married couples are not discriminated against and enjoy the legal security that comes with marriage. Married spouses can make decisions on behalf of one another such as respecting final wishes rather than having parents or relatives assuming next of kin. Marriage makes this virtually automatic whereas unmarried spouses are easier to challenge.
Under medical emergency circumstances married spouses have few problems seeing one another whereas unmarried couples (particularly homosexual couples) are told that only family may see the ill person in question.
Marriage also makes it easier for a couple to apply for a loan, whether personal or for a business venture.

Marriage is simply a legally binding institution – raising a family is not mandatory culturally or in definition.

“Homosexuality is a sin and therefore cannot be recognised by a religious institution such as marriage.”

Refer to this excerpt from the Marriage Act 1961:
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

There is no mention about the union being religious. Part IV Solemnisation of marriages in Australia Division 2 Marriages by authorised celebrants Section 47 of the Marriage Act 1961 states:

I am duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law.
Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
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.”;
or words to that effect.

It is made apparent that marriage is a legal institute under Australian law and thereby not bound to religious doctrine. Australia does not recognise any particular religion as having more authority or superior to another.

Then of course there is the simple response: “I refuse to debate on unscientific grounds.”

“Legalising homosexual marriage will create a generation of children raised by inferior same-sex parenting.”

It is agreed among the broad community, both supporters and opposition of same-sex marriage, that the welfare of the children alone should dictate policy.

The Australian Psychological Society has given its review Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Parented Families with a conclusion that:
research indicates that parenting practices and children’s outcomes in families parented by lesbian and gay parents are likely to be at least as favourable as those in families of heterosexual parents, despite the reality that considerable legal discrimination and inequity remain significant challenges for these families”.

The opposition to gay adoption often argues that children need a mother and a father to be “normal”. The review from the Australian Psychological Society addresses this with findings such as:
gay fathers reported that their behaviour was characterised by greater
responsiveness and warmth, more reasoning, and more limit setting than did the heterosexual fathers
Gay male couples have been found to share parenting more equally and
with less of a polarisation in levels and type of interactions than heterosexual couples
lesbian mothers have been found to compare favourably with the comparison heterosexual mother group… lesbian mother/child dyads exhibited more expressiveness in their communication than a matched group of heterosexual mother/child dyads… lesbian mothers to be less likely to use or endorse the use of physical punishment
In the UK study comparing ‘father-present’ and ‘father-absent’ families… early adolescent boys who had been raised from infancy by mothers only (either single heterosexual or lesbian women, or female couples) were found to rate themselves at the same level on a scale of ‘masculinity’ as did boys who had a father, and more highly on the ‘femininity’ items

Studies and reviews on this subject are limited in Australia but are numerous around the world. The following organisations are pro-gay adoption and/or find no conclusive evidence that gay parenting is detrimental to a child’s welfare.

“Homosexuality is unnatural – we should not be recognising a union that goes against nature.”

1999 review by Bruce Bagemihl, Canadian biologist and author of ‘Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity’, states that homosexual behaviour has been observed in nearly 1500 animal species, and well documented for 500 of them.
Biological Exuberance was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas as evidence that homosexual behaviour is natural in 2003. This 6-3 ruling struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by proxy, invalidated sodomy laws in the thirteen other states where they remained in existence, thereby making same-sex sexual activity legal in every state and territory in the USA.

Humans adopted monogamy to stabilise their societies – this is not natural, but it benefitted our communal species under primitive societal circumstances.
Polygamy was a rich man’s practice because the principle applied that a man may marry as many women as his wealth could support; monogamy was adopted by the (impoverished) majority because most men struggled to support one wife and potential offspring.
Same-sex marriage is yet another step in our history for the advancement of humanity.

Out in Nature: Homosexual Behaviour in the Animal Kingdom’ (2001), directed by Stéphane Alexandresco, Bertrand Loyer, and Jessica Menendez, addresses several points about the perils of preconceptions in scientific enquiry.
Because most Western scientists were raised on the story of Noah’s Ark, and scientific method being in its infancy, early zoologists chose to ignore homosexual behaviour in animals – academic focus was strictly on heterosexual behaviour. This, along with the importance of reproduction reinforced by the naturalist Charles Darwin, led to the belief that everything an animal did was linked to reproductive success. This habitual perversion in scientific discourse has manifested consequent ideologically skewed data in modern history.
An excerpt from ‘Irving C. Rosse: Homosexuality in Washington, D.C., September 1892’observing two male elephants reads:

To my astonishment, they entwined their probosces together in a caressing way; each had simultaneous erection of the penis, and the act was finished by one animal opening and allowing the other to tickle the roof of his mouth with his proboscis, after the manner of the oscula more Columbino, mentioned, by the way, in some of the old theological writings, and prohibited by the rules of at least one Christian denomination.

Due to the infancy of social studies (and the lack of emphasis on its importance) in the nineteenth century, perhaps Irving C. Rosse could be pardoned for taking exception to the homosexual acts of two bull elephants. Even with the accompanying condemning connotation of his reporting, Rosse had still done the scientific community a service for accounting the behaviour. But as late as the 1980s the US government was removing all homosexual references from documents, notably a report describing homosexual behaviour between killer whales (Mitchell, E. and Baker, A.N.).

Contrary to so-called naturalist opposition to same-sex marriage, father-present families are the exception, not the rule, among mammals. With the provided evidence of both homosexual acts among wild animals and a largely compromised scientific history on the subject, the argument against same-sex marriage on the grounds of ‘unnaturalism’ is unfounded.
What is furthermore unfounded is the relevance of nature dictating modern social policy. Humans have been adverse to nature since they first started making fires, cooking food, wearing clothing, making tools, building shelters, building rafts, producing art, producing writing, developing cultures, developing religion, etc. A naturalist could not possibly oppose same-sex marriage by example, whether an attempt to assert homosexuality as unnatural, or an assertion that one’s own lifestyle is ‘natural’.

“Why are we paying so much attention to such a small minority representing x% of the population?”

According to “Sex in Australia: The Australian study of health and relationships”, conducted by telephone interview of over 19,000 respondents between sixteen years and fifty-nine years of age in 2001 and 2002, 1.6% of men identified themselves as gay and 0.9% as bisexual, and 0.8% of women identified themselves as lesbian and 1.4% as bisexual.
8.6% of men and 15.1% of women reported either feelings of homosexual attraction or some homosexual experience.

Debate over the accuracy of such statistics is ultimately irrelevant – the size of a demographic is not a principle in promoting equality.

For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2009 estimated the percentage of indigenous Australians at 2.5% of the total Australian population. But the Australian government has found the time, effort, funding and resources to endorse and implement programs and organisations for closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancy, employment, and education levels.
The principle was not because there is an abundance, or lack thereof, of aboriginals, but because there is a demographic of disadvantaged and discriminated against Australians.

Sexual orientation is not a choice, a claim supported by the Australian Psychological Society, making the comparison between homosexuality and race appropriate. Belonging to the homosexual demographic is as involuntary as belonging to the indigenous demographic.
To deny marriage equality for homosexuals because of how few they are in number is to effectively discriminate against a small minority of Australians for the way they were born.

“The definition of marriage is between a man and a woman – homosexual marriage is an oxymoron.”

To go into depth of the etymology of the word “marriage” should be unnecessary. Language evolves and one only needs to observe the meanings of “gay” and “queer” to understand this.

“I don’t care what you call it – just don’t call it marriage.”

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. – Australian Marriage Act 1961

As opposed to:

Civil union means the union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

As far as the law is concerned all marriages within Australia are essentially civil unions recognised by the state; there is no regard for what church or religion or tradition the couple has married into, so long as the marriage is in accordance with Australian law and a signed document is forwarded to the Births, Deaths, and Marriages office. Holy institutions, psychologists, and romanticists need not apply.
The couple may even attest to their greatest, heartfelt loathing for the person they are marrying in their vows, and this still won’t make the marriage any less valid.

If marriages were to remain for heterosexual couples and civil unions were to be provided for homosexual couples, the differences in the union will be merely semantic. Such a move would only delay the inevitable of same sex couples being colloquially referred to as “married” before the community in time becomes nonchalant about the cavilling.

“But what about my right to maintain the definition of marriage as it stands if I am married?”

This begs the question of who has ownership over the institution of marriage. Wedded couples are given marriage licenses, but that does not mean they actually own the institution, only that the state has recognised and permitted the couple to be married.

Even if conservative couples claim it is their right to maintain the current definition of their institution intact, this impedes on the rights of other married couples who wish to extend their institution to be inclusive of homosexual couples.

In the end, the institution of marriage within Australia is owned by the state and all married couples are only licensed to use that institution, much like having a drivers license only gives a person the right to use the road – it does not mean a person owns the road.

“There are bigger issues.”

The time for liberty is never opportune – that’s what makes its triumphs so commendable.

The following depicts a timeline of gay rights in Australia coinciding with other major events of the same year, demonstrating that time has always been made in the interests of human dignity, even in turmoil the likes not existing in today’s national situation.

1899:    The Australian punishment for sodomy was reduced from execution (sections 61 & 62 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861) to life imprisonment, in spite of the leaders of Australia’s six colonies meeting to discuss confederation and deploying colonial soldiers to the Second Boer War.

1972:    The Dunstan Labor government introduced a “consenting adults in private” defence in South Australia, even though that year the government was preoccupied with implementing “Smoking is a Health Hazard” as a compulsory warning on cigarette packets and withdrawing from the Vietnam War.

1975:    The “consenting adults in private” defence was initiated as a bill by Murray Hill and repealed the state’s sodomy law, making South Australia the first of the states and territories to legalise sexual conduct between men. This was managed regardless of the Fall of Saigon, the introduction of Medibank, Papua New Guinea gaining independence from Australia, and the mounting constitutional crisis that saw Gough Whitlam’s dismissal.

1976:    Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Australian Capital Territory, the same year that cigarette and tobacco advertising was banned from television and radio.

1984:    New South Wales and the Northern Territory followed decriminalising homosexuality. Achieved in the same year that Medicare came into effect, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was proclaimed the official national anthem and green and gold as national colours, introducing the one dollar coin, the National Crime Authority was established, Australian banks were deregulated, and Western Australia abolished capital punishment.
The Australian Medical Association removed homosexuality from its list of illnesses and disorders.

1985:    Changes were made to the Migration Act 1958 allowing Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners to Australia through a new Interdependency Visa. Accomplished the same year that Australia implemented AM stereo broadcasting, and cancelled its involvement in the LGM-118A Peacekeeper (MX missile) tests with the United States, placing diplomatic strain on the ANZUS Treaty.

1989:    Male homosexuality was legalised in Western Australia under the Law Reform (Decriminalisation of Sodomy) Act 1989; the same year that the Hawke Labor Government introduced the Higher Education Contributions Scheme (HECS), the first Australian Capital Territory (ACT) elections were held and the ACT Legislative Assembly met for the first time, and the 1989 Australian pilot’s dispute.

1994:    The Commonwealth passed the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994 – Section 4, legalising sexual activity between consenting adults (in private) throughout Australia. In this year the 1994 Eastern Seaboard Fires, the first bushfires to enter a city (Sydney), generated international media coverage for threatening Sydney with total isolation due to fire. Telephone numbers in Australia were transitioned to eight digits. The Australian government agreed to pay reparations to aborigines who were displaced during nuclear tests in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

1997:    Tasmania decriminalised sodomy following the High Court Case Toonen v. Australia. In the same year the legislation for lawful voluntary euthanasia in the Northern Territory was repealed, a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report called for an apology for an early government policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents and placing them into institutions, and the telecommunications market was deregulated, allowing the entry of competitors (other than Telstra and Optus).

Queensland remains the only state in Australia to retain a defined sodomy law. Section 208 of the Criminal Code Act 1899, “Unlawful Sodomy”, makes sodomy a crime for any person not yet eighteen years of age or if involving any person not yet eighteen years of age.
The maximum penalty is fourteen years imprisonment for attempting or committing sodomy with consent not accepted as a defence. This means that seventeen year-old heterosexual couples throughout Queensland can lawfully engage in vaginal intercourse but seventeen year-old homosexual male couples can be imprisoned for up to fourteen years for engaging in anal intercourse.

From my cold quill,
Erebus NekromantiaThe irony in defending an institution of love by means of hatred escapes them...

5 Responses to “The Same-Sex Marriage Chronicle”

  1. Michael Carroll Says:

    This is great! I’ll be passing it on to quite a few friends.

  2. Eric Glare Says:

    Great content and good resource but can only read it for 5 min before my vision gets distorted – can you change it to something more readable? Sorry I had to copy to Word.

  3. The brilliance of this piece keeps increasing.

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