Monday, 26 July 2010

Penny Wong Is Very Wrong

Australian Senator Penny Wong has come out against marriage equality. I guess this was a Labor party effort to back up the new Prime Minister's stance. I can imagine the meeting. "Well you know, if we get a lesbian to say she doesn't support it, all the activists out there will go 'Oh well, that's okay then', PENNY COME HERE!"

It appears to have backfired. She originally said:
"On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect. The party's position is very clear that this is an institution that is between a man and a woman."

Which of course is silly. Women, Asians and gays wouldn't have got into the Senate in the past for "cultral, religious, histroical" reasons. Perhaps she would like us to return to that? No I thought not.

In the article above Queerty found this statement from 2006

"I hope there will come a time when this country can look back and wonder why some in this place and some in this government were so frightened of and antagonistic to certain types of relationships. I look to a day, to paraphrase a great man, when we not only judge people by the content of their character but also where we judge their relationships by markers such as respect, commitment, love and security and not by the gender of their partners. I look to a day when government policy and articulation is not so mired in prejudice that it can address these issues fairly. One thing I do know is that that will only come under a Labor government." (Emphasis ours.)"
Oh Penny, I think the game is up. Of course she came back with some statement about discrimination which made no sense.

I find this more often than I'd like. The other day I was having a Twitter battle with Chris Bryant, who told me off for questioning his LGBT rights stances. I'm still awaiting his reply to explain why he failed to stand up and even MENTION marriage equality during the Civil Partnership Bill debates. In fact all I found from him was a strong defence of the party line, whilst he threw LGBT rights under a bus.

Never, ever trust a politician who can't even stand up for their own rights because how will they ever have the guts to stand up for yours?

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist


Anonymous said...

There's a point here which i dont think you're addressing because you seem to be looking at the question from an interpersonal angle.

Recognition of partnership status by the state, at a pragmatic level, is about encouraging socially desirable behaviour types any number of which can be enabled through the tax system.

At a symbolic level it is about recognising identities and stimulating a sense of social inclusion, which has a number of obvious economic benefits.

The political difficulty for legislators is that the social benefits and economic benefits are largely in direct competition.

This creates a political conflict where everyone cannot be a winner, leaving some feeling a sense of injustice. So it's a dilemma which isn't as clearcut as it might initially appear.

Do you have a single official relationship status which fails to account for differences, or different levels of status which creates favorites?

For me this dilemma is a consequence of the welfare state and the sad victory of social engineers who use their control over social norms to subtly manipulate a variety of life choices for millions of individuals in the interests of the state machinery - and it will remain so for as long as the ends and purposes of the welfare state are a matter of debate... or until science and society overcome the natural barriers and constraints to procreation.

Given the current context of global overpopulation it should be logical that there is a general movement towards favouring relationships (of all sorts) with lower fertility levels, but I think the challenge articulated by Penny Wong indicates a countervailing trend deemphasising the relevance of that argument.

I'd be interested to hear what consideration you give to the wider implications of the debate, rather than just a narrow analysis of those interpersonal aspects which you're currently focussing on.

For example I think your claim that women, asians and gays wouldn't have gained political representation if it were for 'cultural, religious and historical' reasons ignores the transition which has been made within society (eg regarding equalized economic liberty and property rights for genders, the growth of secular society, immigration trends etc), because it accepts the fundamentally conservative, anti-progressive view promoted by Penny Wong that culture, religion and history are naturally unchanging.

Perhaps I should ask the questions you're begging: are average levels of homosexuality actually relatively static over time or do they fluctuate?

Should we automatically assume there is an intended product to every relationship?

Is it correct, fair or liberal to pass judgement according to preconcieved notions of whether a relationship has been successful in achieving those ends?

Aren't there more imaginative solutions which could alleviate the political dilemma by reconciling the opposing sides of the debate?

Jae said...

I'd direct you to my post "Beyond Marriage Equality"