Monday 12 December 2011

Tsunami-sized backlash on same-sex marriage looms

Barry Cohen  ALP Member of Federal Parliament for Robertson (1969-1990)

Anyone wondering why the Labor Party is having a lean time need only to have watched the federal conference to understand why. With the world on the brink of another global financial crisis, the representatives of the workers decided that the issue of the day was whether Bruce and Bob or Barbara and Betty could marry. I tried to imagine the reactions of John Curtin, Ben Chifley or Arthur Calwell. I doubt they would have been impressed.

Although I didn't watch the whole conference, the difference between this one and those in days of yore was stark. For a very long time we have been made aware of the declining membership of the Labor Party, from 50,000 to 31,000. Youth, we are told, are rapidly disappearing and all that is left are wrinklies, like yours truly. Not at this conference. I was amazed at how youthful the delegates were.

One young gel, who I learned later was the national president, looked as if she was about to start high school. And she was one of the older ones. It raised doubts about the comment of the former Victorian premier, Steve Bracks, that if the Labor Party didn't recruit youth it would become a party of "old-age pensioners".

Apparently he is unaware that with the improvements in our health system oldies are living into their eighties, nineties and beyond. Nor does he appear to have noticed the current favourite for Republican nomination for the US presidency is one Newt Gingrich. If successful, the thrice-married former Speaker of the US House of Representatives will be 70 when he takes office.

What fascinated me, listening to the views of the pro-gay marriage brigade, was whether they believed their own bullshit and whether they had thought through the implications of their proposal. I have no intention of arguing with them. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman -- full-stop. Neither my first lady nor I will budge on this and we will vote accordingly. Why? Because we believe that marriage as now defined is the basis for family life and has been for thousands of years. We want it to remain so.

We are told everyone has the "right" to marry whomsoever they wish. In fact, the "progressives", as they like to describe themselves, seem to believe that they have a "right" to do whatever they wish. Rights apply only to them. Does anyone have a right to have sexual relations with a 13 year old? Not when I last looked. How about polygamy and four wives or husbands. Not now, but give the "progressives" time and I have no doubt it will be proclaimed as another "right". We don't want to discriminate, do we? I could continue to list many other examples, but I'm sure you discern my drift.

Moving forwards, as the "progressives" like to say, let us ponder for a moment how human rights will affect our education system. How long will it be before the "progressives" insist sex education be expanded to incorporate the glories of homosexuality and how to imbibe safely. Some will say, "Oh, that's going too far." Some will, but others will demand it. Imagine dad's reaction when little Johnny describes in graphic detail what happened in his sex education class. Choke is the word that comes to mind. Once heterosexuality and homosexuality are considered "natural", how can it be otherwise?

This newfound liberalism began in the 1960s, when most adults felt we were weighed down with Victorian attitudes to sexual relations. The arrival of the pill was a big factor in liberalising social relations. One of the first battles was the adoption of Ms as the title for women so as not to disclose their marital status. It was the first step in downgrading marriage.

Then came the decriminalisation of gay sex between consenting adults. Having voted for the private member's bill of John Gorton in October 1973 and supported all measures to provide equality for gays, I summed up my philosophy in The Australian in 1995: "It concerns me not at all what adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom, or for that matter their kitchen, bathroom or laundry. Should they choose to stand on their heads, wave their legs in the air or swing from the chandeliers, providing they do not do each other a serious mischief, it is, or should be, entirely a matter for them."

I repeated that quote in a column in April this year. It had no effect. On the contrary, I got the usual treatment from the gay lobby reserved for all those who are foolish enough to disagree with their view of marriage. We saw how unpleasant they can be at federal conference as they hissed, booed, jeered and sneered at those who had the temerity to disagree with them. Red-necked, right-wing and homophobic were the nicest terms they could muster.

Since the 60s we've had criminalisation, decriminalisation, tolerance, acceptance and legal integration. Next will be compulsion. Many of them believe the battle has been won and that it is a mere formality for them to see the Marriage Act amended to guarantee "equality".

They are in for the shock of their lives. Wait until mainstream Australians grasp the full implications of the changes they propose, particularly when you have the likes of the loveable senator Doug Cameron leading the charge. He'll turn off half the population on his own.

Sadly, instead of concentrating on the issues that concern the average Australian, delegates devoted the conference to gay marriage and uranium sales to India. You can imagine how impressed the workers of the outer suburbs of our major cities were. Expect a backlash of tsunami proportions. Let the battle begin.

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