May 20, 2004 | Unknown

Straight Eye Versus the Queer Guy (and Gal)

Although Prime Minister John Howard and President George W Bush are in dire need of fashion tips, they have chosen to alienate members of the community that could take them from drab to fab, or at least from dull to less so, with public statements about protecting marriage from lesbians in lounge suits and gays in wedding gowns.
Suggested changes to Australia’s Marriage Act and America’s Constitution should assure heterosexuals bunkered down in bridal shops they’re winning the battle to keep the ritual Archbishop George Pell believes “brings immense benefits” to husbands and wives, and god knows he’d know, all to themselves.
Unfortunately for Howard and Bush, the Straight Eye Versus the Queer Guy (and Gal) team, states like Massachusetts already allow same-sex marriages and un-Australian and un-American nations such as Canada and Holland do too.
If more important countries were undermining what President Bush has called “the most enduring human institution”, and others have labelled the institution to be endured the most, the war on the enemies of freedom might also have to be fought against those who support freedoms that the bringers of freedom to the unfree do not.
It seems to disturb those who think the meaning of marriage was immutably defined in the days when women had no rights and lifelong commitment lasted until you were struck down by a cold at eighteen that some gays and lesbians are utilising the term whether the church and state show up for the ceremony or not.
Singer Melissa Etheridge last year donned white and walked down the aisle with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels. Now only the most pathetic rock ‘n’ roll fan would claim Dick Clark’s house is a place of worship and the event proceeded without the recognition of California’s legal system, however, Etheridge has said “it felt like a wedding, looked like a wedding and cost like a wedding, so to me, I’m married…”
This comment should be considered alongside that of “gay marriage” opponent Nick Ferrett, a Brisbane barrister, who apparently doesn’t “discount…the depth of feelings which two people in such a union have for each other….(but) they are simply not feelings felt between two married people”.
Emotions are often unreadable, change, depend on the individuals involved, don’t have much to do with signing a piece of paper and didn’t necessarily have anything to do with marriage when hardship and expectations determined life choices.
In any instance, even if specific feelings exist only for the heterosexually married, or for anyone who considers themselves married, they should have nothing to do with what those in intimate relationships should be entitled to.
Regardless of if couples are wed by the Pope, in a registry office or by an Elvis impersonator, “marriage”, as Alexander Cockburn in The Nation argues, “should be separated from legal recognition of a bond, of a kinship”.
It’s time to strip marriage of its special privileges and see it as just another type of connection people opt, or choose not, to have.

Posted by Unknown at 3:04 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. I think Darlene Taylor misunderstands the point I make in my article. Marriage is what it is – a union between a man and a woman. That fact does not lessen the importance or intensity of a relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. It does not make such a relationship less valuable.
    To simply quote my own words in the context of her dripping sarcasm does not change my sentiment, only the force of her point. I do not discount the feelings between members of same sex couples. Not only do I not discount them, I strongly support the right of homosexual people to live their lives free of discrimination. I strongly support changes to the law to allow such relationships to be taken seriously in terms of joint property and succession.
    It is another thing to redefine marriage. If marriage is not to be protected, that is one thing. To redefine it so as to be virually meaningless is another.
    The really disturbing thing about Darlene Taylor’s blog entry is the fact that its central theme is not so much advancing the cause of “gay marriage” as personally attacking those who are against it (Bush and Howard are fashion duds. George Pell’s vow of celibacy leaves him unqualified to talk about the value of marriage).
    There is hardly an argument ever won by bagging the fashion sense of a political leader reflecting majority public opinion.
    If Ms Taylor is dedicated to her cause, she should think of an argument in favour of it and state it.

    Comment by Nick Ferrett — May 21, 2004 @ 12:23 pm

  2. To say that because marriage is a union between a man and a woman does not make a same-sex relationship less valuable, simply ignores the privileges (both legal and social) our society gives to married couples. If a man dies and his live-in, life partner of 20 years is not entitled to his house because of whose name the house was in, then I would say that their relationship does not get certain privileges other relationships (namely marriages) get.
    To redefine marriage will not make it meaningless. Marriage has been redefined many times in our history. Once, when a woman got married, her property (if she owned any) automatically became her husband’s and she had no right to it. At times and places in history, interracial marriages have been illegal.
    I have trouble believing some people who say they believe same-sex couples shouldn’t face discrimination yet they should not be entitled to get married. As far as I’m concerned you either believe in equality or you don’t. It’s that simple.
    I wouldn’t care if a man and a woman had an open marriage (i.e. they sleep with other people) or five people wanted to enter into a group marriage that followed polyfidelity (i.e. they don’t sleep with anyone outside of the marriage). Although I have no interest at this point in my life in getting married I respect the desire of other people to have this legal and social recognition of their relationships. I understand that it means a lot to many people and it means a lot of different things to people, queer or straight.
    And on a lighter note, I think Darlene’s bagging of certain leaders’ fashion sense was playing on stereotypes of both gay and straight men currently doing the rounds in our culture (e.g. see Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). Much has been said about these stereotypes and perhaps I’ll leave that to another debate.

    Comment by Carmen — May 21, 2004 @ 7:28 pm

  3. Thanks to Nick and Carmen for your responses.
    First, I would like to say that my references to the sartorial style of the Prime Minister and the President were meant in jest. Perhaps I should reconsider my goal of becoming a stand-up comedian (“did you hear the one about….?”).
    Anyway, I do think Howard, Bush and Pell are legitimate targets because the church and state have impacted negatively on queer people (and other groups such as women) for a long, long time.
    I don’t want humour to detract from my position that if something is available to one couple, it should not be denied to another just because they are the same-sex.
    People should consider how they would feel if they were denied certain rights (but allowed a few crumbs of legality) because of who they loved.
    I don’t believe the meaning of marriage is static and I do think consenting adults can make of it what they want. I would hate to think we still hold to a meaning of marriage established in the 19th century; as someone who believes in equality, I can’t do that.
    Like Alexander Cockburn, I support the concept of civil unions, which allow rights and privileges of marriage to be available to any two people with a “bond”, a “kinship”.
    The nature of that bond, what people choose to call it and whether or not it is acknowledged by a rite or ceremony is up to those involved, but hey I’m gunning for an Elvis impersonator who sings about having a hunk, a hunk of burning love.
    Thank you both again.

    Comment by Darlene — May 21, 2004 @ 8:12 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.