A story on the Ellen DeGeneres show today showed a variety of heterosexual couples getting married in Las Vegas.
One couple said their vows in front of a comedian – newly-ordained by paying $39 to some company he found by googling. Apparently, in some states of America, this is entirely legal. Same-sex marriage, however, is not.
Another couple, sitting in the back seat of a convertible, were married by an Elvis impersonator as they passed through a ‘drive through’ – “Do you want fries with that?”
Apparently this does not demean marriage. Same-sex marriage between long-term committed partners, however, does.
The world watched mesmerised as famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian went through a sham, made-for-tv wedding and divorced 72 days later. Within the space of a year, I hear, she’s now thinking of marrying rapper Kanye West. All perfectly legal and socially acceptable.
Poorly matched heterosexual couples routinely enter into ill-advised marriages and, it seems, that’s perfectly okay. Even divorced couples can remarry in most churches these days, so if at first you don’t succeed – try, try try again.
It seems that as long as the couple walking up the aisle – or passing through the drive-through – are one of each sex, the ‘dignity’ of marriage is preserved.
And, really, even if we might think some of these unions are a bit ‘strange’, ill-advised or just plain nutty – who would be so churlish as to directly sneer at any of these couples on the happiest day of their lives (so far)? We might quietly raise an eyebrow, or have a private titter, but most of us are not so crass as to try to ruin someone’s wedding by being intentionally mean to them.
I once MC’d at a wedding I knew was destined for disaster. The bride was a friend. She was happy and excited, so I kept my own counsel.
Years later, she rang to tell me it had been all been a huge mistake.
“But you knew that, didn’t you?” she said.
“Yup.” I answered.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“Would it have made any difference?”
“There ya go.”
As it happens, she’s stuck it out – but it was not the life she wanted for herself and she lives a life of quiet desperation. How much value does that marriage really have? A trapped wife and a husband who, whether he knows it or not, doesn’t make her happy?
Today, I heard the happy news that Alex Greenwich, head of Australian Marriage Equality, is in Argentina preparing to wed his long-term partner, Victor Hoeld. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia, hence the need to travel to the opposite side of the world.
Alex and Victor must be so happy and excited, just like any couple in the days preceeding their wedding.
Of course there are those who think their marriage is ill-advised – not because they know them – but because they happen to be two people of the same sex. They will raise their eyebrows and titter amongst themselves – and that’s perfectly okay, they don’t have to agree to the nuptials any more than I have to agree that Kim Kardashian marrying Kanye West is a brilliant idea.
But being privately vituperative just wasn’t enough for the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton. With his organisation already forced to admit they are ‘comprehensively losing’ the marriage equality debate, he decided to ‘seize the day’ and take the opportunity to score some cheap political points.
Shelton tweeted today:
“Alex Greenwich not at Senate Inquiry because today he is in Argentina getting ‘married’ — coincidental or emotional leverage?”
Even in far-off Argentina on private business, it seems, Alex Greenwich is not free of the sneering, carping, petty, hateful, bigoted voice of the Australian Christian Lobby.
The fact that the ACL is reduced to this kind of gutter politics speaks volumes.
Yes, they are comprehensively losing the same-sex marriage debate because the vast majority of Australians are fair-minded and compassionate. Some Aussies might think two blokes ‘doing it’ is a bit ‘icky’ or that two sheilas ‘getting it on’ is OK to fantasise about, but a bit much in ‘real life’ – but, generally, Australians just want to mind their own business and have others stay out of theirs. Same-sex marriage doesn’t effect anyone else. Study after study shows the children of same-sex parents are perfectly safe and not in the least disadvantaged. There is simply no reason to oppose it other than anachronistic wowserism and religious bigotry; the two things for which the ACL so proudly stands.
Lost for arguments, and their argument lost, the Australian Christian Lobby now slink furtively on the fringes of polite society, slinging nasty barbs at gays and Muslims and anyone else who doesn’t conform to their narrow idea of morality.
“Nyah, nyah – your wedding’s just a political stunt!”
“Loser! It’s not a real marriage! See, I’ve put ‘married’ in inverted commas! Take that!”
It reeks of the ACL’s Jim Wallace’s 2011 ANZAC Day tweet in which he managed to insult just about everyone in Australia by suggesting that the ANZACS didn’t fight for gays or Muslims.
In a way, I’m delighted to see the Australian Christian Lobby reduced to this. No longer a respected religious lobby group, they are at last widely recognized as a privately funded boys’ club of religious extremists. Politicians who might once have entertained them are now refusing to meet with them. Their views, exposed as being exactly contrary to the majority of the Australian population, are as rancid as last week’s dog food. So, with their political capital in tatters, what do they do? They stand on the sidelines hurling epithets. Classy!
Justice Michael Kirby recently wrote that despite his position as a High Court Justice he has always felt like a second class citizen because the law will not allow him to marry his long-term partner, Johan van Vloten.
“A loving relationship of tenderness, of gentleness and affection, and fidelity and support is a beautiful thing and anyone who would disrespect it is not a kind person,” he said.
He’s right. Lyle Shelton, Jim Wallace and their cronies at the Australian Christian Lobby are not ‘kind people’. They are bigoted bullies of the worst sort.
Really, what kind of person taunts someone on twitter about their forthcoming nuptials?
How would Alex’s marriage or a marriage between Michael Kirby and his partner of over four decades ‘demean’ marriage? How can love ever be demeaning?
Surely the job of demeaning marriage has already been comprehensively achieved by heterosexuals?
And, if we’re talking about trashy, how demeaning is it to take to Twitter to try to undermine someone else’s wedding?
See also: Rodney Croome, Eclipsing the Religious Right, Online Opinion 4/5/12
“The hundreds of thousands of Australians who have engaged with the marriage equality campaign, and now feel part of a movement for positive change, will keep an eye on who supports equality and who doesn’t, right up until they mark their ballot papers.
This is probably why Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson, Jim Wallace, is so angry.
Suddenly, the conservative Christian constituency which federal politicians have kowtowed to at every opportunity and which Wallace purports to speak for has been eclipsed.
Seeing what is afoot, Wallace has dissed the result of the marriage equality inquiries as “simplistic polling” that “cheapens” democracy, even though he crowed about how “the people have spoken” when a 2009 marriage equality inquiry received more submissions from his side.
He has attacked advocates for being deceitful, and has manufactured marriage equality bogeys out of thin air, even though he regularly complains about the low quality of the marriage equality debate.
No wonder a number of religious leaders have distanced themselves from him.
The current marriage equality inquiries have shifted the debate on that issue, confirming its place at the centre of Australian politics and identity.
Just as importantly, the inquiries have seen a shift in the balance of power in our political system away from the religious right toward the sensible, pragmatic centre.”