Valentines Day, Love, Gay Marriage :) …and the Christian Spoiler :,(

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBTI, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Hey Reader! Magna Szubanski came out today. (any US readers, think “Babe, Pig in the City). Two private members bills have been presented to parliament in support of gay marriage and Magna says she is behind the bills 1000%. (Her ethics are sound but her maths are REALLY bad!)

What a great day to be talking about marriage equality. Valentines Day!

The 9th Circuit appellate court in the US ruled last tuesday to uphold Judge Walkers ruling striking down Proposition 8, a californian piece of anti-gay legislation which tried to ban gay marriage.

for a look at the original ruling…look here

Gay Marriage: Truth or Truthiness. Which are you?

In re affirming the right to same sex marriage, the Appellate Court focused on what marriage is really all about…LOVE! :)

It seems fitting then, on this Valentines Day, to have a look at their ruling…a victory for love.

The Judges made mention of the social significance of the institution and even the word “marriage”. They pointed out that legal cohabiting protections and arrangements often understood as “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” do not hold this same special meaning.  They referenced the Marilyn Monroe film “how to marry a millionaire”. (Easy these days. Just hang out in a pub anywhere north of Port Hedland).

The judges wrote…

“Had Marilyn Monroe’s film been called ‘How to Register a Domestic Partnership with a Millionaire,’ it would not have conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie, even though the underlying drama for same-sex couples is no different.”

They continued…”

“We are excited to see someone ask, ‘Will you marry me?’, whether on bended knee in a restaurant or in text splashed across a stadium Jumbotron. Certainly it would not have the same effect to see, ‘Will you enter into a registered domestic partnership with me?’.”

Even comedic digs at the institution serve to reflect how important marriage is in our collective social psyche.

Groucho Marx’s one-liner, ‘Marriage is a wonderful institution … but who wants to live in an institution?’ would lack its punch if the word ‘marriage’ were replaced with the alternative phrase. So too with Shakespeare’s ‘A young man married is a man that’s marr’d.’ Lincoln’s ‘Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory,’ and Sinatra’s ‘A man doesn’t know what happiness is until he’s married. By then it’s too late.’”

The Court mentioned Shakespeare a few times:

“We emphasize the extraordinary significance of the official designation of ‘marriage. That designation is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by ay other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.”

Maureen Walsh a Republican Senator in Washington State made a heartfelt and beautiful speech about love and gay marriage just last week.

Thankyou Maureen. I hope you have a happy Valentines Day as you remember your husband and the love you shared. And good luck in your quest for future love.

This would be a nice place to end the blog. A celebration of love. But that wouldn’t be fair. Because thats not the full picture this Valentines Day.

The proponents of Proposition 8 (The Church) had argued that all sorts of evils would befall the state if gay marriage rights were granted. The value of traditional marriage would be undermined, the morals of society would fall and children would be forced to learn about gay relationships in schools. But the Appellate Court dismissed these arguments by repeating the findings of fact of the original case. They said…

“…simply taking away the designation of ‘marriage’ …did not do any of things its Proponents now suggest were its purposes,”

Of course thats the case. Granting the right to marry to couple A and B does nothing to undermine the rights or values or marriage quality of couple C and D. It changes nothing about the society they live in (except to make it more equitable) and it forces nothing on their children. The statements made by the proponents (the church) were statements of prejudice and they come from a combination of irrational fear and ignorance. After all, thats where all prejudice comes from.

One blogger put it this way…

Prop. 8 took away marriage from gay and lesbian Californians just to take away marriage from gay and lesbian Californians. Whether based on a desire to uphold tradition or simply prejudice, declaring a minority group unequal just to declare them unequal is not a legitimate or constitutional basis for any law.

I am reminded of the older brother who bullies the younger and refuses him access to the best toys…just because he can. :(

These things would be slightly easier to read about without feelling sick to the stomach if they were restricted to US churches, courts and laws, in the distant land of Far Far Away. Unfortunately, as you well know, dear reader, the same hurtful prejudice is expressed right here, in our country and in our church.

Get this. In 2008 the Federal Government launched an inquiry into equal treatment in commonwealth laws regarding superannuation.

The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry found that at least 58 federal laws relating to financial and work-related entitlements discriminated against same-sex couples and in many cases, their children. These laws breach the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Many of these laws also discriminate against the children of same-sex couples and fail to protect the best interests of the child in the area of financial and work-related entitlements. These laws also breach the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sound fair enough? Not so according to the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Our Church found a need to fax off a copy of our anti-gay CSBQ standard letter warning the government of the evils that will befall us if we go down this dangerous gay infested path.

The letter includes this assessment…

It is claimed that this Bill does nothing to alter the status of marriage. With respect, we believe the Bill sends a clear message to society that marriage (that being a wife or a husband) has no special value in our community or in our law.

The LCA letter spoke of the bill “weakening the status of traditional marriage” and that “marriage between a man and a woman (will have) lost its special value” if the bill were to proceed to law. (2).

How do they get THAT??!!

Apart from the fact that the statement is simply not true, this was an enquiry into justice and equality of superannuation laws, for God’s sake! Why did our church even see a need to stick its bib in? GRRRRRRR… (Spider senses tingling…righteous anger… levels… rising.  Damn! Where’s my medication? Breathe…in…out…in…out.  Hmmm….ok better. Now, where was I?)

This stuff is intellectually dishonest, lacking in compassion and simple justice and it wreaks of prejudice. In years to come we will look back on these types of statements and arguments with embarrasment and, hopefully, shame.

Meanwhile gay people everywhere, including some 1400 baptised members and 80 or so employees of the LCA will suffer through Valentines Day. Hopefully lots of them celebrate their sexuality and have found a partner to share their life with and to give their love to. But, sadly, many of them, especially those whose employment in our church would be effected if they ever came out, still live in shadows. Today they will watch others exchange their gifts and openly express their love with full community support.  But all they can do is watch, force a smile and hope for a time when they can do the same.

To those of who wait in shadows and hope for a more just and loving tomorrow, can I say… I’m so sorry. Love is in the heart of God and eventually love wins over bigotry, ignorance, injustice and hate.

And to the church, can i say this…

How dare you LCA! You proclaim the blessings of marriage and its  benefits to couples and families and children. Then you deny it, not just tacitly but actively, campaigning maliciously to barr this gift of God from the gay people in our church and community. At the moment, in this matter,  we are a church of prejudice and hate. We have no right to call ourselves a gospel church while this blight remains on our agenda.


Happy Valentines Day!

1. Sorry blogger, whoever you are, I lost your reference :( .

2. (click on the pdf file at Sub No.5