No stone has been left unturned when it comes to the back and forth arguments in this debate that has had the nation’s attention since plans for the plebiscite on same sex marriage were conceived. Yet even as the postal voting count draws near, and some Australians are becoming despondent, the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ rationale are continually being flung around with neither side coming to terms with how the other doesn’t understand their reasons for their opinion on whether same sex marriage should be legislated.
Take the ‘yes’ case. It asserts there is an injustice, an inequality that is based on the simple fact that same sex couples cannot marry. Whether or not civil partnerships, already legislated in state laws, offer the same rights as married couples is immaterial. There are scenarios suggested that exemplify the differences between married and de facto couples to try and prove their point, but the ‘no’ camp sees these differences as insufficient in quality to warrant a change in legislation.
The ‘yes’ case further asserts there is no other issue at hand other than the question as to whether we are willing for government to discriminate against a same sex couple based on their sexuality. This is the way in which the ‘yes’ case is promoted to the people.
The ‘no’ case suggests that all relationships are important, however not all are marriage. The definition of marriage is much more than what the ‘yes’ camp can reduce down to a piece of paper and legal rights. Moreover, same sex marriage legislation logically opens up the opportunity for unopposable gender fluidity and sexuality education in schools, surrogacy and negative impacts on children. Both sides cite evidence that supports their case, with the latest research purporting on average that the optimal environment for children is with their biological parents in a loving and stable home. The fact that this occurs in less than half the time in reality is cause for the ‘yes’ camp to downplay such findings, and to summon the salvation of the institution from further demise by the ostensible stability of the same sex couple.
The breakdown of communication could well be based on the dissonance between the centrality of LGBTIQ+ identity being their homosexuality, in contrast to most others who consider their sexuality as a lesser focus of identity. This can create a ‘no’ camp contempt towards the parading of sexual priorities, and a sentiment of insult from the ‘yes’s when sexuality is not embraced by the ‘no’s. Thus in the end neither side can see it from the others’ point of view, and the divisive issue becomes more and more polarising, and each side more and more convinced they are right: morally, ethically and socially.
However, what is missing from the equation are clear facts that override our opinions. They determine truths when we are peddling half-truths to suit an agenda. The truths that are self-evident, that we are made male and female, complementary in life, with one method of procreation, and that children do best when they are with their biological parents in a loving environment.
We should avoid a Hegelian dialectic argument in creating social problems that we later feel clever about fixing, when averting them in the first place is more prudent. We also must be cognisant of Overton’s window, highlighting the method of cultural shift in normalising this fringe behaviour in the pursuit of faux equality. There are absolutes in life, and they have meaning just as marriage itself has meaning beyond the legalities of the institution. However the legal provisions for same sex couples have already been satisfied, and it is now up to us to be truthful about why there is an apparent need to change the legislation.
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Dr Ashraf Saleh
Father of three kids and practicing family doctor, Ashraf served in the Royal Australian Navy as a medical officer from 2005-2012. He's a second generation Egyptian Australian, and a former Muslim.
Ashraf has a Bachelor of Medical Science (Cell Pathology) and Master of Nutritional Science (Metabolic Syndrome) from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery from University of Qld, Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and Fellowship of Advanced Rural General Practice (Emergency Medicine).