catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Is opposition to gay marriage "homophobic"?

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Today ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries took a stand – or, to be more precise, a walk – for liberalism, conservatism and federalism by crossing the floor to vote, unsuccessfully, to disallow the government’s own disallowance of the ACT’s civil union laws.

Unsurprisingly, the ACT government supported Humphries’ decision and criticised the eventual result:

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has lashed out at the Senate decision to reject a move to overturn the federal ban on civil union laws, describing it [as] homophobic.

“I am disappointed by the decision, but not surprised,” Mr Corbell said.

“It is a homophobic decision.”

Mr Corbell supported the historic decision of Liberal senator Gary Humphries to cross the floor.

“I welcome his decision to support the right of the territory to make laws that affect our community.”

But describing the vote as “homophobic” does not, I think, get us very far. It’s quite possible to oppose gay marriage without being homophobic. John Heard, in an article on gay conservatives earlier this year, said

“I think gay marriage is an absolute non-starter as an issue. We have spent the last 40 years trying to get the state out of our bedrooms. Why are we now demanding recognition from John Howard? The notion of these extraordinary, creative, avant-garde gay people rushing to cover themselves in grey cardigans and join their straight cousins in the suburbs with some bureaucratic document just shits me.”

From many conversations on this subject over the years I know of numerous people who are not homophobic but nevertheless oppose gay marriage. Indeed, very mixed views about homosexuality are quite evident in public opinion. The genuinely homophobic will never be convinced by arguments for gay marriage, but those who are not prejudiced are open to persuasion. Given that marriage has between a man and a woman since records were kept, the intuition that marriage should always be between a man and a woman is not a silly one. It’s only when you think more deeply about the underlying purposes of marriage in modern society, rather than its current form, that gay marriage starts to look like a sensible extension
of the institution of marriage.

The conservative case for gay marriage is important because it directly addresses key concerns people have about the practical effects of changing the law. It’s likely to be a much better way of securing eventual change than alienating possible supporters by dismissing them as “homophobes”.

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Written by Admin

June 15, 2006 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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