Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Marriage comes with rights or benifits

I'm getting married in December. Last month (and earlier) there was a discussion in Australia about allowing homosexual couples to be included in the idea of marriage. Our constitution kinda limited it with it saying that a marriage is between a male and female, but other ideas have been put forward in the interest of equal right. There are a few issues all tied to this, and I don't really want to go in to detail with them, but below are some quotes and comments about the discussion that I came across when this item came through my RSS feed mid October.

There is the issue of treating everyone equal according to the law:

Same-sex couples and families get fewer leave entitlements, less workers’ compensation, fewer tax concessions, fewer veterans’ entitlements, fewer health care subsidies, less superannuation and pay more for residential aged care than opposite-sex couples in the same circumstances....Federal law after federal law defines a ‘partner’ or a ‘member of a couple’ or a ‘spouse’ or a ‘de facto spouse’ as a person of the opposite sex. - HREOC Report, op. cit., p. 1. (cited from here)
The uniting church even see marriage as an inalienable right for all people and supports same-sex unions legal equality:
The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to the principles of social justice and peacemaking, and the realisation of the inalienable human rights of all people... No person in society should be denied the rights and benefits afforded by the State to others in equivalent situations, due to their sexuality or involvement in a committed same-sex partnership...

UnitingJustice Australia recommends that this situation be amended to give those in committed same-sex relationships and their children the same legal status and benefits as those heterosexual couples (and their children) who relationship is recognised by the State. - Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director, UnitingJustice Australia from this submission to the senate.
A senior law lecture from the ANU College of Law thinks that all couple relationships should be treated equality where appropriate:
...the Commonwealth must recognize and treat equally three different categories of relationship: marriage, heterosexual and same-sex de facto relationships, and heterosexual and same-sex registered relationships.

Note that in my opinion, all three categories should be treated equally for nearly all purposes. Minimal distinctions only should be drawn between them under commonwealth law. - Wayne Morgan, BA, LLB (hons), LLM (Colum), Barrister and Solicitor, Senior Lecturer in Law, ANU College of Law from this submission to the senate.
On the other side of the issue of equality before the law are the people saying that benefits (I don't think they see this as a rights issue at all) should only be given to a couple if it benefits society.

Biologically same-sex relations don't produce children, and so don't allow a future generation or our species as a whole to continue:
Marriage, as we understand it in our society, is about children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species, and I think if the same status is given in our society to gay unions as are given to traditional marriage we will weaken that bedrock institution. - Mr Morrison, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 June 2008, p. 4507 (cited from here)

The genius of marriage is that, through it, the society normally holds biological parents responsible for each other and for their offspring. By identifying children with their parents and by penalising people who do not have stable relationships, the social system powerfully motivates individuals to settle into a sexual union and take care of ensuing offspring. - Mr Andrews, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 June 2008, p. 4516. (cited from here)
The Christan group, FamilyVoice Australia cite a study in the US that looks like I am going to be a glowing model citizen next year:
Married men drink less, fight less, and are less likely to engage in criminal activity than their single peers. Married husbands and fathers are significantly more involved and affectionate with their wives and children than men in cohabiting relationships (with and without children). The norms, status rewards, and social support offered to men by marriage all combine to help men walk down the path to adult responsibility. - Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, (New York: Centre for Marriage and Families), September 2005.) (cited from here)
FamilyVoice also quote another American who says we should only give benefits to people who benefit society, and gay marriages don't:
The legal and financial ‘benefits’ of marriage are not an entitlement for every citizen regardless of lifestyle. They give an incentive to enter into the socially beneficial relationship of authentic marriage, and give protection to the social institution of marriage. Awarding such benefits to the unmarried makes no more sense than giving veterans' benefits to people who never served in the military. (cited from here)
You can read that guys whole statement here (it's not that long). I disagree with this baptist minister who also said that "Marriage is not primarily a religious institution or a civil institution."

When it all comes down to it I agree with Professor Patrick Parkinson from the Sydney Law School in this interview with John Dickson at the Center for Public Christianity (CPX). He says that the law needs to be there for everyone in society and not just the Christians. In another interview at CPX, Mark Driscoll says that politics doesn't change culture but represents it. He says that you can not enforce or make people live to a certain moral standard.

We should treat everyone equally. That should be every one's right. But is marriage even a right for all? Is it ok for biology, religion and civil governments to limit it?


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