The present politics of marriage

At the time of writing there are two intersecting debates going on about marriage in our country. In the first, those talking about ‘marriage equality’ (code for gay marriage) are opposed by those wanting Australian society to adhere to the ‘Christian’ form of marriage that has been our lot for a few hundred years, one reserved for a man and a woman, whose ostensible purpose is the production and protection of new human beings. If all that sounds somewhat qualified, it is, and I’ll return to it later. In the second, the issue is whether the question is to be resolved by a plebiscite or by a vote in Parliament (if by a plebiscite, the understanding is that a subsequent vote in Parliament would be consistent with the result of the plebiscite).

How many people would be affected if marriage became available to gays and lesbians? There are no accurate figures on any of this, for obvious reasons. Kinsey reported all those years ago that use of the terms ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ was unfortunate, and that we are all capable of bisexuality, depending on the circumstances.  A couple of decent surveys put the proportions of exclusively male and female homosexuals in Australia at about 2 per cent and a bit over 1 per cent respectively. A current estimate for Australia puts the proportion of gays and lesbians at about 6 per cent. How do you choose? How many of them want to get married anyway? No one knows. I know same-sex couples who would wish to do so, and others who don’t care one way or the other.

How important is marriage anyway? The most recent data come from the 2011 Census. People still marry in large numbers, but they divorce too. About half of all marriages contracted will end through divorce.  In 2011, there were 4.65 million ‘residential partnerships’ of men and women, and 33, 714 of same-sex couples. The latter make up about three quarters of one per cent of all residential partnerships. About 10 per cent of all ‘heterosexual’ residential partnerships involved couples who were not married. Maybe they will marry one day. Maybe they don’t want to. Maybe they can’t. Would there be a huge increase in the numbers of same-sex couples were they entitled to be ‘married’? I rather doubt it, though the numbers of such households have risen sharply over the past three decades. Do these statistics help? Not much, I think. The issue is not about numbers but about aspiration. Those who would like to marry their partners but are not legally allowed to do so may be a tiny proportion of the population, but they care about this issue in a way that few of us care about any political policy.

What do we know of wider attitudes towards the issue? There is quite a lot of data, all of it subject to the usual warnings about survey data. You need to know exactly what question was asked, and in what context. You need to know the size of the sample, and how it was selected. Then you have to have faith that those doing the work were professional. That said, on the current evidence, a plebiscite would, I think, succeed in gaining a majority of voters to support the proposition that same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples. There would be a major effort raised by what is generally known as ‘the Christian lobby’ to maintain the status quo, but my guess is that the majority don’t care enough to be persuaded. ‘Why not?’ the majority will say, ‘What can it hurt?’ They are unlikely to be be persuaded that same-sex couples cannot straightforwardly make babies, or that they are not going to be good parents. After all, virtually all the  offenders in prison came from heterosexual couplings, if not couples.

So why are we having the current fuss about a plebiscite or a Parliamentary vote? The answer seems to be complex. On the face of it, the status of marriage is no more important than the decision to go to war, yet we never have a plebiscite on that issue. In fact, we have have only ever had three plebiscites, two on whether or not there should be conscription for military service, during World War One, and on the national song in 1977. So why one on marriage? Ah, the Liberal Party is not united on this issue, and it may be that some or even many of its members feel that a plebiscite might in fact reject the proposal. Why are they that way? Maybe because they are conservative, and think that the marriage system we have has served us well, and should be retained. I’m not sure that there are all that many devout Christians in the Parliamentary Liberal party, but I could be wrong. Devout Christians are a diminishingly small proportion of our society. Current church attendance at least once a month stands at about 15 per cent. How many are devout? Your guess is probably as good as mine. But not many.

Again, all this is guesswork on my part, but I feel that the Labor Party (which will have its own doubters who would like to have marriage stay the way it currently is) sees an excellent opportunity to make things difficult for the Government. It is also likely to be closer to the LBGTI fraternity. If Labor were in power then, other things being equal, it would organise an appropriate bill and get it through by making it difficult for the other side to object. ‘Have a conscience vote!’ it would suggest to the Liberals. ButLabor is not in Government but in Opposition, so its current strategy is to tell us all, and in particular, the LGBTI crowd,that ‘marriage equality’ could be there in a week or two if only the Government stopped delaying. And, in order to force it to stop delaying, it is (apparently) determined to block the plebiscite bill, which means it won’t get up, since the Greens and the Xenophon team don’t like it either. One stops delaying by delaying.

What will happen then? Well, PM Turnbull could say that he made a promise that there would be a plebiscite, and that he will have to put that matter on the back-burner until later in the Parliament, or until the next Parliament. That won’t make the gay-marriage people happy. They then might say to Bill Shorten that he should rethink, because they’d rather have what they want in the next year than in the next Parliament. All in all, this is a mountainous molehill of an issue, and we’ll have to wait for three weeks before we can experience the next exciting instalment.

I don’t have a horse in the race, and though I am inclined to be conservative about cultural forms, I would vote ‘for’ a marriage equality bill if there were a plebiscite. The status of marriage in our society has changed a good deal since the Family Law Act of 1975. The statistics of relationships, only a small portion of which I have set out above, tells me that refusing to accommodate gay marriage within our system is a lost cause, if not now, then before long. Anyway, why shouldn’t gays be subject to divorce, the Family Court, and all that comes with it? If marriage is a ‘right’ (it’s not, but I’ve seen this aspirational claim on a number of occasions), then it comes with some responsibilities, too. And the kind of marriage that was solemnised by the church and hard to get out of we owed to the accumulation of property over the centuries, and the need to allocate it in some kind of regular manner. Hence dowries, settlements and wills. But that’s for another time.

Join the discussion 131 Comments

  • JMO says:

    When we were marries in 1980, people asked us, why?

    Marriage is a dying institution, it is legalised prostitution about 1 in 2 end in divorce and we were labelled “breeders”.

    Look,,, Wheeew…. Breeeders!!. Look your wife is a prostitute..

    It hurt.

    Now these lesbians, homosexuals and others of the so called LBGTINXZW etc.etc want to get married!

    Do I hear any apology? Or even 4 magic words eg. “sorry, we were wrong”, No way!

    3/4 years ago my wife worked on Federal legislation to make sure same sex couple were treaded exactly the same across all Commonwealth laws (except the Marriage Act) it was a mammoth task. Did we hear a thank you from the LGBTINX (and whatever) community? Absolutely not.

    Do I feel that I should” respect” their “right”to be married”without any hint of the acceptance of any responsibility. Absolutely not! They are perfectly entitled to a civil union … but do not call it a marriage. They made quite clear they did not want marriage, constantly criticising it over the decades.

    And, looking back to what I thought as a child, the notion of same sex married parents would have been absolutely abhorrent.

    So, as far as the matter now stands, I want the plebiscite so I can have my say and I will voting NO.

    • David says:

      JMO, while we are sharing our personal thoughts, after reading what you have just written, the thought of you being a parent is absolutely abhorrent. And if there was a plebiscite re your right to breed I would vote no.

      • Nga says:

        I must to having much the same thought!

      • michael says:

        not much help being rancorous, fairly typical of those unable to debate in a constructive way. Surely the use of the word marriage for most has insufficient meaning. There are many others who regard it as a very solemn commitment to another person. Why cant we remove the churches to legally enact marriage and leave it to a civil contract with all the attendant rights. If a couple wish to have their union blessed by a church service then that is between the couple and their church. I suspect, however, this campaign is a cover so that churches will be forced to accept homosexuals etc ( not sure what the latest abbreviation is now) possibly other less than socially acceptable arrangements. The way the question is currently framed is far too vague to be acceptable. If de facto couples can make it work than I really cant see the problem as outlined above.

      • JMO says:

        David, Ross, Margaret etc

        When you have grown up, married, have 3 kids, raise them, house them, pay, help and support them at school and extra curricula activities and university; shower them with gifts and money, take them on cruises, overseas and Disneyland and Disneyworld and many other theme parks. As well continue to advise, support, help them when they all adults – then by all means criticise me. Until then you have no idea.

        • margaret says:

          I’ve pretty much done all of those things JMO – even Disneyland. No cruises though and more dripping than showering.

          • JMO says:

            The current homosexual marriage (this is the correct terminology) push is all part of the long term goal to change homosexuality from being unlawful, then tolerated, then accepted, then lawful and finally to be compulsory.
            Don’t believe it? Read Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel “A Wanting Seed ” (he also wrote A Clockwork Orange” made into a controversial film by Stanley Kubrick). This futuristic tale describes homosexual authorities promote homosexuality (to stop “breeding”). Homosexuals get the good well paying jobs, run the police, the politics and the policies. Heterosexuals are forbidden in “polite” society and are lucky to get crap jobs. Burgess describes his future society in a comical style rather than the tragic dour style of Orwell’s 1984.
            But all that is fiction, we (the so called progressives,” marriage equality” activists) would never allow anything like this. We would never repress “straights”! Really?
            Let’s see what has happened so far and the behaviour from the pro- homosexual marriage groups. Cassadra Liebekneeht sacked on some trumped up reasons. but really was because she was heterosexual. Catherine McGregor sacked by Kaleidoscope for expressing concern about Safe Schools (an abhorrent program which hijacked the respectable anti-bullying school policy) , Mercure hotel in Sydney threatened , including violence towards its staff, for accepting a booking from a Christian anti-gay marriage group; the Catholic Church In Tasmania being dragged before Anti-Discrimination Commissioner merely for publishing a pamphlet expressing its view on marriage (not criticising the pro gay marriage proponents). This is further evidence that they are the haters.
            They shut down the debate, are intolerant to free speech, liberalism and the philosophies of the 18th century Enlightenment. They continue to behave like regressives. The evidence is compelling.
            To me this is evidence than Burgess was right in 1962. The so called progressives (they are really regressives) are pushing us down this path towards a Burgessian future. (And no, I don’t buy Senator Bernadi’s bestiality view),
            From my own experience, being a left leaning person (yes that is right, I used to invariably vote Labor (if no,t then the Greens) I can say I have been exposed to vile, vitriol and viciousness when I express any doubt on the regressives’ views and beliefs – they are the haters.
            Since the rise of identity politics – which includes homosexual marriage- and the catastrophic climate change advocacy aggressively promoted from what I consider the loony left and now assimilated into the Labor and particularly in the Greens. I have now moved away from them, I can no longer vote for the Labor/Green parties. I tried holding my nose to vote for Turnbull (Mr Harbour-side Mansion)- but couldn’t. I blame him for wrecking the Republic referendum. So I went to the conservative parties adding my vote for Turnbull to experience a near political death.

          • JimboR says:

            Compulsory homosexuality? Can’t wait to see that one taken on the campaign trail! If the “Vote No” campaigners genuinely believe it’s going to be compulsory, I can certainly understand why they’re concerned. All those folk who thought they had no skin in the game will certainly sit up and take notice once they learn it’s going to be compulsory.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Well said, JMO. If only there were more realists like you.

            Here is a cunning move by Labor who realise, because the public are already funding it in spades, the Yes case doesn’t need funding:


        • michael says:

          there are plenty who have done all that and more, hardly rational. Where was your partner in all this largesse. To me (53 years and counting), it is about a partnership. for life.

    • margaret says:

      As a child, if same sex married parents had loved you and had your best interests at heart JMO – you would have been very happy. Maybe happier than you are now!

  • Ross says:

    ‘They’ really should apologise to you, shouldn’t they.
    Perhaps rent a hall. You could come on stage and all of ‘them’ could join you and grovel for your forgiveness. Then you could let out a mighty laugh, and declare “I’m still going to vote NO. So there! That’s for being mean to me all those years ago!”
    Imagine how humiliated they would look. Imagine how big you would appear.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Don, Parliament is made up mostly of old white males, who believe their views are representative of those of the wider community. However, the community is no longer homogeneous, and I wonder if the attitudes of the various ethnic groups will be as liberal as the agitators seem to believe.

    • JMO says:

      “Öld white males” – now that is an ageist, racist and sexist comment!
      Is that a progressive statement? I think not, more like regressive.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Don, I see this simply as political posturing, nothing more. It is not necessary for gays to be ‘married’ because they already have all the legal rights of a conventional marriage. I’m also surprised that you didn’t cover the issue of adoption. That will come next and how will that be handled if the child to be adopted is a baby or too young to understand where it is going? I’ll be voting NO, also for JMO’s reasons (comment 1).

    • Ross says:

      Homosexuals didn’t said thankyou to your wife as well? What’s going on?

    • JimboR says:

      “I’m also surprised that you didn’t cover the issue of adoption. That will come next”

      I think you might have missed the boat on that one. Same sex couples are already allowed to foster and adopt in most Australian states. It’s hard to imagine letting them tie the knot will suddenly make them worse parents.

  • Boambee John says:


    Labor was in power for six years and did not legalise gay marriage. Indeed, Penny Wong spoke against it.

    I suspect that Labor would like gay marriage to be legalised, so it can go to the alphabet community, and claim credit for the change. However, I suspect that Labor wants a Coalition government to pass the legislation so it can go to its Muslim constituents and blame the Coalition for this attack on their relivious beliefs.

    But perhaps I am too cynical?

  • Boambee John says:


  • Art says:

    Were the issue to be restricted to marriage of homosexuals by those religious institutions or civic authorities that were agreeable and no compulsion on those who were not, then I would vote yes on a plebiscite. However I feel that this has become a stalking horse for the whole LGTBIXYX32 program including the safe school “gender as choice” crowd. There seems to be a strong push for authoritarian rule that brooks no dissent. For that reason, I would vote no, hoping that a large no vote would slow the progress of the so-called progressives.

    Indeed, I suspect that when gay marriage does become legal, there will be a push for polyamory marriage. Maybe that too is not such a bad thing, especially considering the more alarming issue of humans being increasingly controlled by IT surveillance, robotics and the flight into virtual reality.

  • margaret says:

    I’m against the plebiscite, would not marry again even if I were young, but fundamentally see inequity in not allowing those couples who wish to marry that right. I think civil unions make a lot of sense in all cases of wanting to tie the knot – but that is me and I recognise that not everyone is … (as enlightened ha ha) like me.
    Since we are going to have a plebiscite just bring it on and I’ll vote yes.

  • Bill Griffiths says:

    I’m not opposed to same sex marriage provided there are protections for anyone in society who does not wish to be involved. We can’t have celebrants, reception venue operators, dress makers, tailors and the like dragged before the courts because they don’t wish to provide services to a same sex marriage.
    A more radical solution might be to repeal the Marriage Act altogether. Couples who wish the protection of the laws relating to long term relationships might register with the government as partners. Marriage ceremonies could be available from celebrants, churches, mosques and so on with these groups making clear who they will and will not marry. The same legal status would apply to married couples and unmarried couples if they register as such but the state would be out of the marriage business altogether…

    • Lenny says:

      This is essentially the French Model.

      I like it because the government is essentially blind to your relationship & if the pope decrees the catholic priests can marry gay, well they can be married. To the government it makes no difference.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I am in sympathy with that proposal, though I haven’t explored it properly. If the State simply opted out of the marriage bit, but had simple and straightforward rules about cohabiting, possessions and the treatment of children after a break-up, as France perhaps does, then some of the heat would go out of this issue. But, of course, we would need twenty years of discussion before such an outcome might be possible…

  • spangled drongo says:

    I haven’t been to church [weddings, funerals, Christenings etc aside] probably since I was a kid and there are plenty like me but I do think the Christian culture that our society is based on is the best you can get and as long as it is observed, our secularism works very well for all of us.

    Marriage between a man and a woman for the procreation, protection and rearing of kids is one of the chief tenets of the Christian culture.

    The Christian world has accepted, understood and practiced this for the last two millennia with good outcomes but in as little as the last two years we [that same society] are supposed to have cast it all aside.

    Have we really?

    Are we really so hollow that we think that it won’t make any difference?

    This is simply a case of the tiny, entitled minority thinking they, once again, should get everything they ask for.

    Even though they really have it anyway.

    But it just doesn’t SEEM that way.

    So by also destroying one of the fundamentals of our culture this tiny minority of the entitled will feel they have won the new revolution that they are propagandising our kids with daily.

    • Ross says:

      Destroying what, Drongo? Gay people gain the right to be married, and you lose….nothing.
      For a non Christian, you’re awfully fundamentalist.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Ross, you have no idea what our culture could lose.

        The meaning of marriage for all human cultures is basically the same.

        It’s about having, protecting and rearing children. It’s not just about love.

        LGBTI marriage can never be the same as heterosexual marriage and if LGBTIs are granted this right it will automatically be different because those relationships are different.

        You can’t have, and simply won’t get, equality, when things are not the same.

        They are perfectly aware of this and should stop claiming this is the ultimate solution.

        Because it obviously is not.

        • Ross says:

          My gay friends children (now young adults) would disagree with your thoughts. In fact it makes them really angry. Can’t say I blame them. If someone said my parents were less than equal…I’d probably punch them in the mouth.

        • Ross says:

          All married couples who have adopted children will be disappointed with your medieval take on society, Drong.

          • Ian G says:

            i know lots of children who have been adopted and they spend much of their time tracking down their biological parents.
            The one issue that doesn’t seem to be addressed is surrogacy and donors. The law may well have to be changed to accommodate S-S couples. And what about bi-sexuals? How can they achieve ‘marriage equality’ if they are denied polygamous relationships.
            Also who will be financially responsible for children in the case of divorce. Hopefully the S-S partner but in hetero-relationships, it’s the biological parents. Will this need to change and what impact will it have on heterosexual marriage?
            Will men be able to gain custody of their children more readily by claiming that ‘a child doesn’t need a mother’?
            I believe it will be a legal minefield but could be solved by the Govt getting out of marriage altogether – no financial or social advantage in being so – and people make their own arrangements.

    • Nga says:

      Thanks for again vindicating my view that persons over the age of seventy should be denied the right to vote on account of their diminished mental capacity, not that you had much to begin with.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        I believe there is a saying that it’s better to be thought an idiot, than open your mouth and prove it.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Thanks for vindicating my view that leftie twits like you are happy to flow with the modern “ideation” that gender is a social construct and a matter of belief and choice.

        What a foundation to build the next two millennia on. Luckily, even some LGBTIs even have doubts about it:

        “Professor Parkinson’s report, The Controversy over the Safe Schools Program — Finding the Sensible Centre, which is available via the Social Science ­Research Network, has added further weight to concerns about the program.

        “While originally touted as a program designed to stamp out homophobia in the schoolyard, it has divided parents, politicians, religious groups and even the LGBTI community.

        “Prominent transgender advocate Catherine McGregor faced a backlash when she recently spoke out against Safe Schools, claiming that it would not have helped her as a young person grappling with gender ­issues. Professor Parkinson is also concerned that its teachings may harm some young people.”

        • Nga says:

          A liver-spotted old fart like you should be more worried about Parkinson’s Disease than Professor Parkinson’s report

          • margaret says:

            Nga aren’t you being ageist?

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Another adolescent trying to be clever.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Don’t worry, Marg, Nga is more to be pitied than pilloried. Her epistemological processes are her undoing.

            It’s not a bad thing to be called an Old Fart.
            Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events;
            during the National Anthem, Old Farts remove their hats
            and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment.
            They know the words and believe in them.
            Old Farts remember World War II, Normandy, Spitfires and Hitler.
            They remember the Atomic Bomb, Vietnam, the Korean War,
            the Cold War, the Moon Landing
            and all the Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005.
            If you bump into an Old Fart on the pavement, he will apologize.
            If you pass an Old Fart on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady.
            Old Farts trust strangers and are polite, particularly to women.
            Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking,
            make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.
            Old Farts get embarrassed if someone swears in front of women and children
            and they don’t like any filthy language on TV.
            Old Farts have moral courage and personal integrity.
            They seldom brag except about their children and grandchildren.
            It’s the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politicians,
            but by the young men and women in the Air Force, Army, and Navy.

            This country needs Old Farts with their work ethic, sense of responsibility,
            pride in their country and decent values.
            We need them now more than ever.

        • Ross says:

          Yes, I’ve read that Professor Parkinson has done quite a lot of work for the Australian Christian Lobby.

  • margaret says:

    You know what Spangles – council elections are coming up next month. My intention is to vote for every young new candidate in order to rid the council of every old fart who currently holds office. It’s called “get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand cause the times they are a changin’ “

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      We all know what we need margaret. What we get are pretentious juvenile dimwits like the specimen above.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Think about it a bit more before you do Marg.

      What you are really on about is:

      “get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand cause the climate, she is a changin’ “

      That’s what all the youngies think is the new culture [that and gender-bender SSM] and, man alive! are you ever in for some strife.

      Us Old Farts are the only ones that will hang on to the true value in our culture and save your bacon.

    • JimboR says:

      This forum is starting to feel like a Lions Club meeting.

      • Ross says:

        JimboR. It’s all about values (Drongos’ and the Christian Churches) and decency (still a little vague on that one). Just look at what’s happened in Ireland. Man alive!!!

      • JimboR says:

        Some of those moral guardians trying to save us from the evils of gay marriage were busy yesterday trying to convince the Royal Commish that fondling the boys’ genitals was just a friendly gesture. Why do we even listen to these people, much less give them 7.5 million of our taxes to convince us they know what’s best for society?

  • margaret says:

    At least now I feel that I can say with impunity, “He’s not a bad Old Fart”, when an elder does something courtly. Or even, “thank you Old Fart”, knowing said gent will be happy to have been affirmed.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Marg, please tell me you don’t have this problem, too:

        An old lady goes to the doctor and says, “I have this problem with frequent gas. Fortunately, the farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I’ve farted at least 10 times since I’ve been here, and I bet you didn’t even notice!” The doctor says, “I see. Take these pills and come back next week.” The next week the old lady returns. “Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the hell you gave me, but now my silent farts stink like the dickens.” The doctor says, “Good! Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”

    • JimboR says:

      “University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation.” …. no doubt something Don set up before he left.

  • Malcolm says:

    Since they changed the rules in Ireland, there have been about 400 gay marriages. That number includes people who have been waiting for the change for 20 or 30 years, and so is statistically negligible. This shows that there is in fact almost no interest in this issue amongst those for whom it is relevant. In the grand scheme of things it is about as important as snoring in public libraries. We should stop wasting time on it.

    • Nga says:

      So the conservatives who said SSM would cause societal meltdown were wrong? LOL. Some things never change.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Give it time. When you threw the baby out with the bathwater, if you didn’t love the baby you probably also chose not to notice it was missing.

        But that’s just another boring thing Old Farts do.

        We check the bathwater for babies.

  • David says:

    Russel Brand makes the very good point that the prohibition of sodomy did not make it into the 10 commandments but coverting thy neighbour’s ox did.

    If God does care about gay marriage it’s not that much.

    • spangled drongo says:

      ” the prohibition of sodomy did not make it into the 10 commandments but coverting [sic] thy neighbour’s ox did.”

      Davey, maybe god didn’t want you to hide your neighbour’s ox in case you secretly sodded it.

    • JimboR says:

      First there were Labrador puppies at the bottom of the slippery slope, now there are oxen down there as well? Nobody says it better than Helen Lovejoy:

      • margaret says:

        Philip Larkin had something to say about conventional parenting. Since when did we (and how many of us) have the parents we wanted or sometimes needed – even when we love them – actually only a very fortunate few. Your gender and a white wedding really has nothing to do with parenting skills.

        • spangled drongo says:

          That’s funny, Marg, I wouldn’t have thought Philip Larkin was your type:

          “Having laid out a grand total of 15s. 7d. on an evening with Ruth, [Philip] Larkin writes to [Kingsley] Amis:

          “Don’t you think it’s ABSOLUTELY SHAMEFUL that men have to pay for women without BEING ALLOWED TO SHAG the women afterwards AS A MATTER OF COURSE? I do: simply DISGUSTING. It makes me ANGRY. Everything about the ree-lay-shun-ship between men and women makes me angry. It’s all a fucking balls-up.”

          Maybe he didn’t learn all he should have from his long suffering parents. Some kids are like that.

          • margaret says:

            I know nothing about him except for the poem and maybe that he was a poet laureate. I imagine the poem says a lot about his own life. We all lead different ones.

          • spangled drongo says:

            He declined the offer of poet laureate and like Amis, I suspect he was a communist.

            And I don’t think he knew or cared much about conventional parenting:

            “Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt,
            Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
            And me supposed to be ignorant,
            Or find it funny, or not to care,
            Even…but why put it into words?
            Isolate rather this element”

          • margaret says:

            I prefer the first poem about the men in frock coats and top hats – it’s more encompassing.

        • margaret says:

          “A testament to the enduring appeal of Larkin’s poem came in April 2009, when the first four lines were recited by a British appeal court judge as part of his judgement of a particularly acrimonious divorce case involving the future custody arrangements of a nine-year-old child. Lord Justice Wall referred to the emotional damage caused to the child, saying: “These four lines seem to me to give a clear warning to parents who, post-separation, continue to fight the battles of the past, and show each other no respect.”

      • dlb says:

        Helen Lovejoy looks like a good caricature of an AGW hysteric.

  • spangled drongo says:

    What is it with our regressive left? Rational people are no longer allowed to discuss anything as simple as marriage culture when we have these organised haters pushing their agenda.

    Janet Albrechtsen on free speech – and its enemies on the Left:

    “Same-sex marriage activists chose hatred last Friday when they learnt that Christian groups planned to meet at the Mercure Sydney Airport hotel to prepare for the no campaign. The threats of violence, feral social media posts … and nasty phone calls to staff showed the disdain for debate among same-sex marriage activists. Hotel management cancelled the event to protect staff. Did left-wingers in favour of same-sex marriage condemn the hate-filled campaign from their own side? No.”

  • BB says:

    I was reading through all your posts on this frankly I got tired of it. Maybe I’m wrong but I thought Tony Abbott conceived of the idea of a plebiscite to solve a problem. His problem is or was division within the Liberal party. By putting it to the people it takes it out of the realm of the party. Then you go along with whatever the public decides. I think it is an issue which a lot of people have very strong feelings about so by doing this you escape the ire of those people. The left now wishes to propose all sorts of excuses to not have the plebiscite. Do they think it will be lost the polls say no so why are they so opposed? Don’t forget there was a free vote on this issue in the Gillard government as far as I know. It was lost why won’t it be lost again? If you look at the marriage act something puzzles me in 2004 it was common law that marriage was between a male and a female but the Howard government saw fit to write it into the marriage act why was that? Personally I do not have a slot of skin in the game since I have no religion and never have. I do not see how it is equality though and I also understand there is a lot of religious bent who feel strongly about it so I do not see why we should rock the boat for a very small percentage of the population. They are not going to get much out of it and they will never be accepted as the same by the heterosexual population. I think there will be a definite effect by the fact that those who wish to have polygamy will press for it. I do not see any clearer reason against it than same-sex marriage. My concern is where do we go from here will we then see litigation from same sex couples for marriage in churches? It all seems like a can of worms to me so I would vote against it thinking that it will cause further grief. A lot of the thinking of the activists appears to be Marxist. Marxist thinking is to abolish the family is it not? Innately a child of a same-sex couple is not going to know who their father or mother is I know of examples of this is that what is wanted?

    • margaret says:

      Thanks for the clarity of your points BB, they’re helpful. As the parent of a daughter in a same sex relationship I could be seen to have skin in the game. However she and her partner are happy to be in non wedded relationship so I don’t.

    • JimboR says:

      “Innately a child of a same-sex couple is not going to know who their father or mother is I know of examples of this is that what is wanted?”

      Same sex parenting is already legal and already happening. How will letting a same-sex couple tie the knot make that any worse?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      BB, I think there’s a lot of sense in what you are saying, and I’m prepared to think that where you say ‘you’ in the first few sentences, you mean ‘one’ rather than DA!

    • Ross says:

      Susan Ryan recently reminisced about getting the anti discrimination act through parliament. (No plebiscite, funnily enough). There was a group called ‘women who want to be women’ who warned us of women taking the men’s jobs and basically bringing down everything that was good about society.
      Society kept trundling along and The ‘women’ presumably remained women.
      Lot’s of things scare us, BB. But take a step back and think.
      Straight people will continue to marry. Many will have children. We’ll all continue to sit through boring school functions with other parents (gay and straight). We’ll continue to yell at the umpires on the weekend at our kids sport. And some gay people will get married.
      I just can’t see what the fear is. Other than a general dislike of uppity homosexuals.
      The times are a changin’ aren’t they? But then, they always have.

      • margaret says:

        The truth expressed poetically.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “The times are a changin’ aren’t they? But then, they always have.”

        Ya mean, like the climate, Rossie?

        As long as we limit the fakery at the bakery, hey?

        With the new SS program, all the boys are gonna change to girls.

        It’s the only way they can win an argument.

      • JimboR says:

        Well said Ross. And same sex couples who want to raise kids will continue to do so, regardless of how we vote. The “won’t somebody think of the children” mob really should think of the children before they cast their vote. Those children are out there now, living in suburbs all across the land.

        • spangled drongo says:

          So if life will proceed as “normal”, why is it necessary to further invade hetero space?

        • spangled drongo says:

          What do you think those children are going to be more affected by: 1] the absence of a marriage certificate somewhere in their parents files? or 2] the absence of a mother or a father and the presence of 2 fathers or mothers?

        • JimboR says:

          Unfortunately for you Drongo (and no doubt happily for them), #2 isn’t up for a vote. The only thing we’re voting on is #1…. focus Drongo, focus! There’s no doubt a whole bunch of things many of us would change if given a vote, but right now, we’re voting on #1.

          • spangled drongo says:

            You sound a bit gender-confused yourself, Jimbo.

            You really think kids in general will prefer [awa be better off] to not have both a father and a mother?

            And you really think that these kids will have the slightest idea or give two hoots about the marriage certificate?

            Whereas they just might be a bit puzzled about their “parents”.

            Unless, of course, just the right amount of gender confusion is appropriately applied at an early age.

            What a brave, new world you lefties want for the young.

          • JimboR says:

            Focus Drongo, focus. I’d vote for World Piece if that were on the plebiscite too, but it’s a very specific question we’re being asked. Try to stay on topic.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “I’d vote for World Piece if that were on the plebiscite too”

            I might too, Jimb. I’m just not sure which piece.

            And BTW, Jimby, you need to learn the difference between focus and tunnel vision.

            You’re losing sight of the bigger picture. Y’know? The WHOLE bathtub? With the baby down the end?

            You can do it!

            Be a visionary for a change.

            I’m sure if you concentrate you might just manage to pick it out among the suds.

          • JimboR says:

            Alas Drongo, they haven’t invited us to vote on ever aspect of their lives, just one very very specific one. I sometimes feel you’ve got in the queue for the wrong plebiscite. Whatever your concerns about Safe School programs and same-sex parenting abilities, they won’t be resolved by this plebiscite. Should we ever be given a vote on those issues, I’ll be sure to return here to read your comments before voting, but in the meantime, as my grade 10 maths teacher used to say….. remember to read the question. Focus Drongo, focus!

          • spangled drongo says:

            “remember to read the question. Focus Drongo, focus!”

            Jimb, I do think you have forgotten what your teacher really said.

            He said, “THINK”, as well, which was the most important part of giving the right answer.

            But that was a long time ago, hey?

            But never mind. You still have time.

            You can even start practicing today.

          • JimboR says:

            Drongo, I’m convinced my concept of thinking is polar opposite to your concept of thinking, and I suspect we’d both be happy with that observation. You bring all the clarity of thought that you apply to climate change to this debate as well.

            I”m afraid I’ve not found your “vote No” campaign at all persuasive. If I had to characterise your contribution, I’d put it down to some sort of protest vote. It seems society has changed a lot over your lifetime, you’re not happy with some of those changes, and feel you had no voice in whether or not they should have happened. But they did, and now that someone is proposing giving you a vote on a topic you seem to need to vent. Good luck with that, and I hope it brings you some peace.

            With that bit of free psycho-analysis, I’ve now made my three posts for the day. I know you’re not bound by that rule, so go your hardest. If I have time I might check back tomorrow to see if you’ve come up with a more convincing “Vote No” case, but you’ll need to do a lot better than simply continue to parrot the God-botherer’s “look over there” campaign.

          • spangled drongo says:

            What is it about white anting millennia of world culture [not just Christian culture] that you don’t get, Jimbo?

            The slippery slope doesn’t carry you upward.

            When people of similar belief to yourself [not you] are not only NOT prepared to discuss the subject but wish to violently shut down, vilify and attack people who consider that this same long-established procedure has enough merit that it is worthy of discussion, does it not strike you that there is something unhinged and hysterical in their actions?

            That maybe their conclusions have not been rationally arrived at?

            Up until recently both major parties had this strong “no” case view but now Labor are not only NOT allowing a conscience vote, they don’t want the people to have a say at all. Yet even Penny Wong recently had a “no” case view.

            And do those conclusions, and the way they were drawn and prosecuted, not remind you of other similarly dubious conclusions on AGW that are dividing the community right down the middle?

            If you can’t be rationally sceptical enough to see this, it shows a true denial of reality.

          • JimboR says:

            So after all that bile on Safe Schools Programs and same-sex parenting skills and bizarre baby-in-the-bathwater analogies that lead nowhere, it all comes down to this simple appeal to conservatism:

            “What is it about white anting millennia of world culture [not just Christian culture] that you don’t get”

            I think “I wish I had your talent” Don answered that appeal eloquently in a recent essay:

            “The point of all this pondering is that the institution of marriage is changing, just as much else in Western society is changing. Technology is part of the reason, as well as longer lives, greater wealth, greater movement, women’s ability to control their own fertility, the decline of organised religion, the possibility of same-sex marriages. I don’t think it means the end of anything. We will adapt, and are adapting. But it is a different world, and the McVicars production of Cosi fan tutte offered an insight into it that I valued.”

            Drongo, you made 12 comments to that essay but not one of them challenged that paragraph. I think we can safely add strong sycophantic tendencies to my earlier free diagnosis. Incidentally, why do you feel exempt from the three-posts-per-day limit rule? I truly believe that in your case, less might be more.

          • spangled drongo says:

            You’re the one dodging the issue, Jimbo.

            What is it about a tiny, aggressive, activist minority introducing new rules over an incredibly short space of time that overturns millennia of world culture, with the ability to bring about negative, unexpected results, that you don’t understand?

            What is it about this same aggressive minority going to great lengths to prevent discussion on the subject that you aren’t in any way suspicious of?

            Only a fool would be disposed to allowing this regressive, inconsiderate minority to dictate an outcome without some serious debate.

          • JimboR says:

            Me? I’m just quoting “I wish I had your talent” Don. If you don’t like his views you can probably debate them with him here, or you’ll find the original essay here:

            Alas, that’s my three posts for the day, but I’ll be sure to tune in to see who wins.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Wow! Jimb, how smart do you have to be to realise that marriage, like life, isn’t perfect!

            The next one that is, will be the first!

            And how does that justify those ill-considered changes that you are happy to embrace?

            How many babies d’you think might be in that multi-millennia bathwater?

            And what does anyone’s views have to do with their talent?

            You’re up to your old tricks again of focusing without thinking.

            It’s what’s known as blithering, Jimb, luv.

  • Chris Warren says:


    A lot of the thinking of the activists appears to be fascist. Fascist thinking is to exlude others is it not?

  • spangled drongo says:

    The first man to die from HIV/AIDS was Michel Foucault, a committed communist and atheist although he did reject communism in later years.

    His social constructionism theory is behind current LGBTI advancement and the strange relationship between this philosophy and Islam:

    “Foucault is sometimes criticized for his prominent formulation of principles of social constructionism, which some see as an affront to the concept of truth. In Foucault’s 1971 televised debate with Noam Chomsky, Foucault argued against the possibility of any fixed human nature, as posited by Chomsky’s concept of innate human faculties. Chomsky argued that concepts of justice were rooted in human reason, whereas Foucault rejected the universal basis for a concept of justice.[183] Following the debate, Chomsky was stricken with Foucault’s total rejection of the possibility of a universal morality, stating “He struck me as completely amoral, I’d never met anyone who was so totally amoral […] I mean, I liked him personally, it’s just that I couldn’t make sense of him. It’s as if he was from a different species, or something.”[184]”

  • Ken Nielsen says:

    An excellent analysis of the matter, Don.
    When you mix deeply help moral beliefs with politcal game playing, you are bound to get trouble.
    I’m in favour of acceptance of same sex marriage. The slippery slope argument (polyarmoury or dogs) is a fallacy. Drawing lines is something we do every day.
    Anyeay, there are much more important problems to solve.

  • David says:

    Don when you say you are “inclined to be conservative about cultural reforms” the marriage vows do say “until death do we part” . Plenty of heterosexual Australians were happy to vary the traditional marriage contract to allow divorce, without a plebiscite.

    • David says:

      Isn’t it just a tiny bit hypocritical for someone who has been divorced twice to be lecturing others on the need for a conservative interpretation of the marriage act.?

      • Don Aitkin says:

        It might be had I lectured anyone in this essay about anything, let alone the Marriage Act, which is not mentioned. You just don’t read carefully, do you.

        • David says:

          Not directly in this article but in other posts you have said you would “Probably vote for marriage equality if based on Irish model”. Gee thanks. And in return I would “probably” vote yes for your right to get a divorce.

          So as I said I think it is hypercritical for heterosexual people to vary the definition of marriage to suit their needs and then turn around argue that the definition of a marriage is fixed.

          • Don Aitkin says:


            As I’ve said before, you don’t read carefully.

            Now if you look above at the comments you’ll see that I said to someone else that I liked the idea of getting the State out of marriage regulation altogether, and leaving that to churches. Someone else again said that was the French model (not the Irish, I have no idea what the Irish actually do about it).

            And I think you meant — at least you said, earlier — that I was ‘hypocritical’ in lecturing people on the Marriage Act, which I didn’t do and haven’t done. Now you say I am ‘hypercritical’, which means excessively or unreasonably critical, which doesn’t make sense at all.

            It’s only a suggestion, but you might consider thinking more and commenting less…

    • Don Aitkin says:

      What is the point of your comment?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Plenty of heterosexual Australians were happy to vary the traditional marriage contract to allow divorce, without a plebiscite.”

      Davey, divorce is a well established “institution” and has been happening in Christian and other cultures in varying degrees for as long as marriage has been happening, unlike same sex marriage.

      Divorce is no more cultural reformist than marriage itself, in spite of the marriage vows.

      It was established well before Australia even existed as a Christian culture.

      To try to equate it with SSM in this way is a feeble argument.

    • dlb says:

      “Plenty of heterosexual Australians were happy to vary the traditional marriage contract to allow divorce, without a plebiscite.”

      I don’t know about this. No fault divorce was brought in by the Whitlam Government in 1975. I’m sure “plenty” of conservatives would not have been happy then. Fair enough if he went to the preceding election with a policy stating Labor would bring it in. Perhaps some of the older Fs (Folks) here might remember?

      • David says:

        When Howard decided to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, to prevent individual states introducing same sex marriage the coalition did feel the need to call for a plebicite. Happy to ram this “clarrification” to the marriage act thru parliament.

        This is my point. Heterosexuals very selective about “need” for a plebiscite.

        As far as I am concerned “live and let live”.

  • David says:

    … A not so conservative view on marriage as to be inconvenient.

  • David says:

    Spang here is interesting post on history of marriage. It has evolved over time, “without whiteanting Western civilization”

    • margaret says:

      A personal observation on the institution of marriage from the perspective of three sisters born in the forties and fifties :
      Sister one married at 21, still married. When she announced to her parents her intention to live with her then boyfriend they had an apoplectic reaction and she backed down and did ‘the right thing’ in an Anglican church about a year after.
      Sister two lived with her boyfriend from her early twenties and then they married in my parent’s ‘garden’ – (those inverted commas are definitely for irony) about five years later. The Seventies had arrived! She is now in her sixties and is getting a divorce.
      Sister three married at eighteen. She was pregnant (just) and it was not a time that one walked proudly down the aisle displaying the forthcoming offspring so she married in a white sheath dress with usual accoutrements veil etc. in a church (same one). Two years later they divorced. Two years later she formed a relationship with a man who had been married twice and was divorced. He is Catholic. He had three children and shared access. They lived together and then married in the Sydney Registry Office a couple of years later and had a son. The Eighties had arrived!
      About fifteen years later they divorced. Some time later she formed a relationship with someone who was divorced but had no children They didn’t marry but lived together and split up a few years later.
      The noughties had arrived!
      Both of these last two relationships of sister three were with Catholic men and although they were non-practising they had some brainwashing damage (imo), as does the man sister two is divorcing.
      I think we exemplify the changing ‘institution’ (ironic inverted commas) of marriage from the sixties to where we are today, so what is all the fuss about same sex marriage?!! It’s an equal rights issue for an ‘institution’ that is about proprietal rights.

    • margaret says:

      Succinct article David.

  • David says:


    1. Agree I misspelt hypocritical.

    2. I do not read all your individual comments. In the main post you claim to be a social conservative and now in a response you want want the State to get out of the marriage regulation all together. That would represent quite a change. I would not think of that as a conservative view on marriage.

    I think as a general statement if you want to discuss the rights of others to get married, divorced etc then I think your own choices are up for discussion. I don’t imagine couples who wNt to separate would appreciate the State interfering in their personal choices any more than a same sex couple who wanted to get married.

    3. If you really did think the State should get out of the marriage business then why would you only “probably” vote for sames sex marriage.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      You keep doing it! You say ‘you claim to be social conservative’. What I said was ‘ I am inclined to be conservative about cultural forms’. They are not the same thing at all. I don’t want ‘the State to get out of the marriage business’. I said it was an idea worth exploring. There are subtleties in all this, David, and you seem oblivious to them.

      And if you don’t read all the individual comments for heaven’s sake stop commenting on them!

  • David says:

    Spang your claim that gay marriage could white ant western civilization is amusing

    “At least two of the Roman Emperors were in same-sex unions; and in fact, thirteen out of the first fourteen Roman Emperors held to be bisexual or exclusively homosexual.”

    And men in ancient Greece when they were not inventing democracy and the scientific method, spent their spare time wrestling other naked Greek men.

    I think Western civilization will cope if Australia introduces same sex marriage.

  • margaret says:

    David Miles completely nailed the issue of the same-sex marriage plebiscite on The Drum tonight .

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yeah, right, Marg.

      Your darling David says: “It’s only a religious point of view that backs up [heterosexual] marriage”

      Do you really believe that?

      • margaret says:

        “Your darling David” – I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with anything he’s said but last night I did. Yes marriage is a construct and did you read (our) David’s link above?

  • margaret says:

    Ah, the Seventies, weren’t they great? How they freed up people’s attitudes towards marriage, monogamy, sex and no fault divorce? Or, were they? See how people change their spots.
    Good Weekend article from 2010: Bettina Arendt : sex advocate.

    “It isn’t as if Arndt’s own life has lacked drama. Her first husband was a journalist, Dennis Minogue, whom she met when he interviewed her for a profile in The Age in 1973. Years later, he wrote that “the aim was to send her up gutless, she being light relief from the normal task of writing ponderous and pompous pieces on national poli- tics”. Instead, they fell in love. “He was a wonderful man,” Arndt says. “Extremely personable and charming. He had enormous joie de vivre.”
    Minogue also had a wife and two young children but he quit his job and moved from Melbourne to Sydney to work with her on Forum. “I became the cause of the marriage break-up and I look back on that with a lot of regret,” says Arndt, who readily admits her present champi- oning of the traditional family unit stems partly from guilt over her role as home-wrecker. In the 1970s, she says, “we thought about adults’ needs and wants and we didn’t think about the kids. We just assumed everything would be fine for them and it wasn’t. It took its toll on my stepchildren.”

    • margaret says:

      The Origin of the Family
      Freidrich Engels 1884
      “The division of labour between the two sexes is determined by causes entirely different from those that determine the status of women in society. Peoples whose women have to work much harder than we would consider proper often have far more real respect for women than our Europeans have for theirs. The social status of the lady of civilisation, surrounded by sham homage and estranged from all real work, is socially infinitely lower than that of the hardworking woman of barbarism … [27]”

      “He traces the transition to the dominance of the father, on the basis of the change in the nature of the main type of property held by the family (agriculture to cattle-breeding); but it is not the anthropological exposition we are interested in now. This transference of power (dominance) within the framework of the family division of labour was a ‘revolution’ – ‘one of the most decisive ever experienced by mankind’. It ‘was the world-historic defeat of the female sex’. The woman was ‘degraded’, in effect enslaved, turned largely into ‘a mere instrument for breeding children. This lowered position of women … has become gradually embellished and dissembled and, in part, clothed in a milder form, but by no means abolished ‘.”

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