Friday, 19 June 2015

A rose by any other definition...

Shakespeare was right when he penned in Romeo and Juliet:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
This was Juliet's deep thought about what things are called. She was applying this idea to Romeo's last name and figured that if it was different it wouldn't matter. In the cases of roses I think she was right (I'm not so sure with last names and the plot of the play). If by some quirk of the English language a rose was instead called a "washing machine," the object itself would still smell the same. The only difference is that if you looked up the word "washing machine" in the dictionary you would find it means: "cliché flower to represent love".

Now replacing one word for another, while keeping the same object is one thing. Another is keeping the same word and changing the meaning.

I hear that McDonald's may introduce some touch screen, build-your-own burger function in-store. If someone was going to build their own burger which had two meat paddies and six serves of gherkins and tried passing that off as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, they would be a monster and also wrong. They would be a monster because no one likes the gherkins, and wrong because that is not what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is made up of. Europeans may call it a Royal with Cheese, because they have the metric system (and I have no idea why in Australia we don't call it that), but a Royal with Cheese is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese; they mean the same thing. A Quarter Pounder by any other name...

With the case of the double-paddy-with-too-much-gherkin burger being sold off as a Quarter Pounder, is a change of definition. Now, if this new definition was to be sold off to the rest of society under the original name, then this would be what juvenile boys in high school call: "gaaayyy".

So the government has decided to postpone Bill Shortens bill on same-sex marriage indefinitely, which by all accounts is a very long time. I am not sure I like the fact that the government can just decided not to deal with issues indefinitely because they don't like them. Can I decided to postpone paying my taxes or stamp duty indefinitely?

Anyway, Bill introduced his bill with some heart felt words. He said that we should "embrace a definition of marriage that respects, values and includes every Australian" and that: "This is an act of fairness for all ages." Of cause this bill doesn't do either. It doesn't include every Australian of every age. My three year old child (thankfully) can't legally get married to the boy in her play group. It also doesn't include Australians who are already married - that is just full of hate.

Currently anyone in Australia has the right to marry as long as they meet certain conditions. A couple can't marry if they are immediately related. Both parties need to be over 18 (or have court approval), give consent and give advanced notice (which is why that show Married at First Sight actually doesn't involve real marriages - Shock: TV shows aren't real!). You also can't marry if you are already married.

It should be noted that love is not a condition to marry. Marriage is a legal relationship that all eligible Australians have, regardless of race or religion or even love. This means that if an argument about marriage starts off: "If a couple loves each other...", it is not a valid legal argument for its eligibility.

Another current limitation is that a guy (or a girl for that matter) who wants two wives can't. The Bill's proposed bill still removes the possibility for a guy (or a girl) having two wives because it limits marriage to be a "union of two people", but it also removed the words "wife" and "husband" altogether. And there is the rub.

Shorten said:
Our legislation proposes a new definition: 'the union of two people'. And it allows celebrants the choice of referring to 'partners', as well as husband and wife. To some, this may seem a small gesture. In truth, this means so much, to so many.
While it is nice in a marriage ceremony to be called a "husband" or a"wife", however if you read the amended language (page 7), legally those two titles are being removed...and to some, "this means a lot to so many". I wonder how long the language of "mother" and "father" will be replaced with "parent" in legal documents and PC approved word lists (or in the case of Canada "natural parent" is now replaced with "legal parent", not longer can you find out who your "real" parents are. Legal rights triumph).

I do like that Shorten is clear: this is a new definition of marriage. This means, like with most things in a democracy, that no one is getting what they want. Marriage is getting a new definition. The gays who want what the heteros currently have is not going to get it, they are getting a redefined marriage. And those pesky heteros who want to have a "wife" or a "husband" someday are legally not going to get it. Instead everyone gets "partners".

We have reduced marriage to use the same language as a law firm. This should be distressing enough. No one likes law firms.

Bill Shorten was right, there was a small gesture in the amendment, he threw those religious people a bone:
this legislation makes it clear that no minister of religion can be compelled or is obliged to conduct a particular marriage, including one where two people are of the same sex. All I ask in return is that this respect be mutual. Just as churches, mosques, temples and synagogues of all faiths and traditions will be free to choose if they consecrate same-sex marriages, let the same respect to allow Australians to freely choose who they marry without vilification or judgement.
This is a small gesture that allows conscience voting for those religious folk. It doesn't actually give marriage celebrants a conscience choice, and so by extension, smaller independent church leaders aren't given this choice. However it is still a nice gesture and I think he makes a fair point about being mutually giving to people you disagree with. A true secular society, kinda like what the white Christian males envisaged when they founded this country.

Perhaps we should let all Australians to freely choose if they want this, and not the boffins we elected. However, allowing people to operate by their conscience is a funny one. Even in politics, the Labor Party want to remove the conscience vote for their members, but then they appeal to the Liberal Party to allow them a conscience vote for the members in their party. I guess double standards are good, as long as the votes go the way we want it to. We also don't need to "go to the people" because we aren't changing our constitution - sorry pollsters, all those online surveys have no ground.

But some may say: "What about Ireland?" It is true that Ireland passed same-sex marriage by referendum. We need to remember that Ireland has a population of nearly 4.6 million people, with 3.2 million registered voters. Only 1.9 million people took part in their referendum, of which 62% were in favor of same-sex marriage. Oh, and they may also have had a bunch of overseas money helping them to sway local public opinion since 2006. Hopefully in Australia, if we have people campaigning on an issue (which I am not against anyone doing it. I am glad Australia is a free country where we can), it is funded by people in this country and not from international interest groups. Down with big business and down with international political interest groups.

To conclude, how about some rainbows from twitter? You know, the big sign in the sky that reminds us that God keeps his promises. They reminded us that despite our sins God is not going to destroy the world via a flood (Gen 9:11-17).... It seems that some people have forgotten (or never learned) this. And so, the clash of changing world views, definitions and symbolism continues:

Related Links
Table hospitality - This is something I wrote on gay marriage in June 2012. I think this shows my anabaptist ideology of church and sate. There was an interesting discussion in the comments.


Post a Comment