The recent BBC report detailing latest survey results on Australian opinion about marriage and parenting is an effective endorsement of the observations made in our blog yesterday. In this instance the report simply gives yet another example of the prevailing neo-liberal modus operandi that dominates reporting the mass media by claiming simply to give the “facts” of what is “trending”. The presumed ethical imperative of the report is that since there is now a new “middle ground” of support for “marriage equality” all parliamentary opposition should simply fall away and it won’t be long before the Australian Parliament will “join the club” of polities and embrace such a “progressive” recognition.
Go back and look at the survey that has now been referred to in the article. It is a discussion of the The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia report delivered by Professor Roger Wilkins of Melbourne University. From what the BBC reveals of the “facts” and “what is trending” (note not only the heading but also the sentimentalist photograph of those who are obviously excluded by a cruel fate), it might just as easily be concluded that the “facts”, and the “facts of the trends” as reported, tell us that the Australian citizenry is now no longer qualified nor capable of a coherent public legal understanding of what is at stake in “marriage equality”. The survey as reported by the BBC has as much credibility as a survey on whether public ice-cream should be made available for all primary schools. Yes, the BBC is an integral part of the political crisis we face.
And so, the international mass media, led by the NYT and the BBC, are adding their agitprop to the aether to get the Australian Federal Parliament to …. what? To endorse their longer-term agitprop for “progressive legislation”? We can begin to see how this crisis is upon us in ways that have been hitherto hidden and hence unexpected.
But just for the record consider the following “profound shifts” that have historically preceded the BBC’s “profound shift” in Australian views. Let’s try and list a few of these earlier shifts simply to identify how this chant:
“What do we want? Equal love! When do we want it? Now!”
sends echoes of a serious historical lack of awareness.
1. When the Australian Parliament finally decriminalised homosexuality in the 1970s it was on the back of a Royal Commission that examined human relationships in toto. Crucial to the material considered by that Royal Commission was the submission by the leading “gay rights” organisation Campaign Against Moral Persecution that same-sex relationships were not to be judged as illicit de facto marriages but relationships of their own family and household character.
2. Since the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1970s, the two major “sides” in the nation’s parliaments (Labor and Liberal-National) have repeatedly and concertedly tried to safe-guard their own share of electoral support by the effective privatisation of (what Nurturing Justice continues to refer to as) “Marriage, Family, Household” the central and most productive sector of the national (and international) economy – even as it carries, as it must, an unpriceable market value. More and more the political parties have simply avoided losing votes because of what are seen as potentially unpopular policies and policy-frameworks. And so we have seen the increasing reliance upon “conscience vote” which might safeguard, in some distorted sense, the integrity of an individual Parliamentarian, but which further unhinges and disconnects that elected representative from his/her electors. Across all electorates therefore a persistent political fact that a significant sector of the citizens who have a non-libertarian way of life are effectively wedged out of political debate (ironically, even when the individual voter him/herself may have voted for the “winning” candidate).
3. There has been for a century “popular culture” and philosophical views that have systematically denigrated the marriage institution. One popular expression of this since 1978 has been the Sydney Mardi Gras. Presumably, even with the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the “marriage institution” and in particular, those advocating public-legal respect for marriage, was “fair game” for public ridicule and has been ever since. And now despite what has in retrospect become merely an initial “ambit claim” that same-sex relationships were not to be considered as marriages, we have a persistent claim that they are marriages anyway and need to be recognised by a legislated “equalising” redefinition of the institution itself. And so when the Leader of the Opposition refused to support a plebiscite (quite apart from the fear of “marriage equality” supporters that such a vote would not obtain the necessary votes, given Donald Trump’s election, the Brexit vote and New Zealand’s failure to change its flag) we had the highly selective moral outrage of Mr Shorten and his crew that sensitive young people would be put at risk by such a publicly funded plebiscite. So where is the moral outrage at the persistent denigration of the marriage institution that has been regularly endorsed by the now ritual attendance of wind-vane politicians.
4. Nurturing Justice has been persistent in observing the ongoing consequences of the former Liberal Prime Minister’s failure to abide by his pre-election guarantee to his electors in Bennelong that he was opposed to embryonic stem-cell research. Since that time in Australia, and in fact from before that time, human seed and human eggs have become “commodities” for pseudo-Messianic bio-medical and pharmaceutical research. The consequence of Mr Howard’s failure on this matter – he should have resigned his seat, allowing his deputy to take over, and gone back to his electors to be re-elected. He didn’t and, as we have pointed out repeatedly, the Liberal Party has since become merely a public relations firm that now Mr Turnbull is trying to hold together but cannot do so even on his own terms that party unity must prevail because to take a policy stand will be to split the conservative forces and allow Labor to take the reins of Government.
5. The idea that marriage is a right is basic to this chant. However, the global movement for “marriage equality”, with its “When do we want it? NOW!” mantras does not address the question of why first the UN hasn’t been petitioned to amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or even International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Could it be that that way of proceeding simply would not pass in any vote? Moreover, would it not demonstrate, and bring to the fore just how much this movement is a neo-colonial moral crusade? Australia, as a leading polity in this region, has an international obligation to its neighbours but that matter is never raised.
6. Finally, with all the restrictions imposed by the alternative public relations firms (political machines) upon the public dissemination (sic!) of coherent public policies for marriage, family and household, we face a situation in which (read the above BBC article again carefully with respect to child-bearing) human seed (sperm and ova) is simply consider a de-regulated commodity. What are we to say about the new emergent forms of human slavery that have to be considered in this context?
The Melbourne University report has, as we have suggested, a wholly unintended consequence: its results can just as easily be read to conclude that the Australian public is now neither qualified nor capable of making a public-legal judgment upon legislation that would have a direct bearing upon the public and legal definition of the structures of “marriage, family and household”.
And Nurturing Justice is suggesting to the Australian Christian Lobby that its extra-parliamentary efforts to have a petition presented to the Senate to allow a plebiscite on same-sex marriage as per the Liberal Party’s election platform, is now politically misconceived. Giving Christians an opportunity to “vent” by saying “No” in such a petition is fair enough; but a plebiscite whatever its outcome puts off until another day the need for political parties to actually reform themselves and hence re-jig their own view of what a party is. And that task means finding a way to properly represent in our parliaments those electors across the Commonwealth who will never agree to what is implied in this misconceived, historically ignorant, mass movement for “marriage equality”.
We should be constant in prayer that in time, the Lord God in His mercy, will enable us to see more clearly what is being dissolved in the structure of our citizenship and how this impacts marriage, family, household and friendship. Can we face up to the worrying fact that we are preventing ourselves from seeing politically what is now staring us in the face? Yes it is persistently obscured and befogged by a thoroughly compromised mass media. And “marriage equality” is indeed one prominent issue that is turning Parliamentary Democracy away from just representation and a public justice mentality for public governance. It has capitulated to the results of what are now “winner take all” public opinion surveys. Parliamentary accountability to electors needs to be rediscovered and that will also have to be part of the difficult task of working toward a genuine Christian political option over the next decades.
BCW 3 August 2017