Plebiscite is about far more than marriage

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Man and woman – but for how much longer? Newly weds on the top of the Empire State Building, New York. PHOTO: John Taggart

The plebiscite is “clearly about a change to the definition of marriage and nothing else.” This assertion, made by Tim Wilson’s successor at the Australian Human Rights Commission, Ed Santow, has become a common refrain. Labor Leader Bill Shorten is one among the many to insist that ‘marriage equality’ is about the validation of same-sex relationships and nothing else.

Such a claim is intended to short-circuit allegations that a change to the Marriage Act will bring with it negative side-effects, such as the weaponisation of anti-discrimination laws and the implementation of compulsory gay sex education in schools.

Nevertheless, some arguing the “Yes” case say there will be consequences, but only positive ones; the foremost of which is an improvement of LGBT health.

As Catherine King, Labor’s spokeswoman for health, wrote in The Australian, “… the evidence is clear: this isn’t just a social issue, it’s a health issue”.

As someone who has studied the so-called “Safe Schools” (SSCA) program ever since it went national in July 2014, I couldn’t help but notice the correlation between this attempt to frame the marriage vote as a health issue, and the decision to frame “Safe Schools” as a safety issue.

Compare King’s statement “this isn’t just a social issue, it’s a health issue” with that of Lynne Hillier, an academic at La Trobe university whose research underpins the “Safe Schools” program, who said “No, it’s not a moral issue, it’s a safety issue and the moral concern is the health and wellbeing of these young people…”

Anne Mitchell, another La Trobe academic and Chair of the SSCA Steering Committee elaborates: “What we had to do was market … the research [which gave rise to the program] as around a safety issue rather than a moral issue … And it turned out that a lot of teachers could, when they saw that there was a safety issue involved, leave aside any moral hesitations they might have …”

A page from a Safe Schools resource entitled Guide to supporting a student to affirm or transition gender identity at school. It insists that “continued use of unisex or accessible facilities (such as toilets and changing rooms) can cause additional stigma and potential for discrimination”. Source: studentwellbeinghub.edu.au

The purpose of these tactics is the same: to recast LGBT causes in terms that people are sympathetic to, while masking their hidden agendas.

The shared rhetoric of the “Safe Schools” and “Yes” campaigns reveals them to be “birds of a feather”, and just as “Safe Schools” was never just about safety, neither is “marriage equality” just about same-sex couples.

These notions of “health” and “safety” are not only being used by rainbow activists to manipulate the populace, they are also used to demonise their opponents.

An example of this played out when “Safe Schools’” co-founder, Roz Ward, used the hanging suicide of a fourteen-year-old British girl to frame the Australian Christian Lobby’s campaign against “Safe Schools” as dangerous.

Bill Shorten expressed similar sentiments when, in arguing against the government’s original plebiscite plan, he told the parliament, “Let me be as blunt as possible: a “No” campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many.”

Yet “Safe Schools” and “marriage equality” have much more in common than a penchant for disarming titles and ugly debating tactics. Contrary to the knowledge of parents, politicians, and educators, “Safe Schools” was always about far more than student safety, health and wellbeing.

Its creators saturated the materials in gender theory – the idea that biological sex is distinct from true maleness or femaleness – and taught students, among other things, that “asking new parents whether their baby is a boy or a girl” constituted a problematic “heteronormative” assumption, and that one’s gender is not fixed, but fluid.

A teaching resource produced by US activist group Trans Student Equality Resources. If same-sex marriage becomes law, teaching materials such as this one may become compulsory while parents who object to their children being taught beliefs which contradict their own family values could be designated hateful and discriminatory. PHOTO: Trans Student Equality Resources

Likewise, as the Explanatory Memorandum of the proposed Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 shows, changing the Marriage Act is about much more than validating gay relationships.

The general outline states: “The Bill will allow two people the freedom to marry in Australia, regardless of their sex or gender.” Similarly, it is noted in the “Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights” that the Bill allows “all couples to marry … regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.” Put simply, the Bill, if passed, would enshrine gender theory within the very heart of our country’s most vital social institution.

Because the chief premise of gender theory renders biological sex subordinate to gender-identity, such a Bill would not only redefine marriage, it would also help sever the terms “male” and “female” from their biological foundation.

And since marriage is the institution from which all other institutions spring, it is inevitable that, once ensconced, this biologically-independent conception of “gender” will be used to undermine every other aspect of the ‘heteronormative’ social order.

As we’ve seen with the advent of gay marriage and parenting in various countries, schools and government bureaucracies are beginning to remove terms like “husband”, “wife”, “mother”, and “father”, from their vocabularies and replacing them with “partner” and “parent”.

With gender-identity-inclusive marriage, the terms “man” and “woman” would also be threatened, as would sex-segregated changerooms, toilet blocks, sporting teams and social clubs.

The revolutionary potential implicit in marriage reform is not lost on those dedicated to the cause.

It will never happen here?: In Sweden, Social Democrats party leader Stefan Löfven (right) is on a mission to ensure that even clergy are required to toe the SSM line, just eight years after same-sex marriage became legal. PHOTO: Frankie Fouganthin, Wikimedia commons

Ward, an unapologetic Marxist, told her fellow Socialist Alternative comrades that “putting the homophobic and transphobic marriage law on the agenda in Australian politics has been a victory”; a victory that will undoubtedly contribute to the creation of “a world where human sexuality, gender, and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinarily new and amazing ways which we can only imagine today”.

Leading LGBT activist, Masha Gessen, is similarly enthused. In 2012 she told the Sydney Writers’ Festival, “Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there, because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change. And that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change, and again I don’t think it should exist.”

Additionally, the far-left Australian Education Union continues to agitate for marriage reform while insisting that “diverse sex, sexuality and genders need to be normalised” within the school curriculum.

Returning to the premise that same-sex marriage will be good for LGBT health, I would encourage people to read an essay by the gay writer Michael Hobbes, entitled The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness. He writes, “In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in ‘suicidal self-harm.’

“In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.”

It would seem the gay men of Holland and Sweden are not reaping the promised benefits of gay marriage. What makes us think it will be any different for gay Australian men?

Is gay marriage a health issue? It’s certainly becoming one, for both sides, but only because advocates are ceaselessly telling gays, lesbians and the gender dysphoric that they are victims of social hatred.

At bottom however, purported concern for LGBT health, like LGBT safety, is simply a ploy activists hope will convince Australians to welcome another Trojan horse, not just into their schools, but into their homes, workplaces and churches as well.

Once in – and if allowed to remain – it will gradually erode our institutions from within until they crumble, opening up the way for Ward and her ilk to recreate society in their image.

Is the plebiscite about more than a change to the definition of marriage? The answer is certainly yes.