Title: What are you so afraid of? Credit: Joseph Habgood Features Thursday 17th May 2012 - 2:52pm1337223120 Article: 11749 Rights
Joseph Habgood from Legalise Love, a pro adoption and marriage equality group based in Wellington, delves into the myths being pushed by the anti-brigade, urging social conservatives to calm down and look at the situation rationally: “In every person’s life, there are a few wonderful moments when they feel the world change, quite substantially, for the better. “For many of us, the President of the United States throwing his weight behind same-sex marriage, followed by many of our own politicians at home, was one of those moments. And of course, no such moment would be complete without the terrified cry of those who realise, in a sudden flash of illumination, how very far the world has ‘descended’ into love and tolerance. “Enter Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “In a statement on 11 May, Mr McCoskrie lamented the ‘redefinition’ of marriage by governments and queer rights activists, asserting that the proper place of marriage is to remain deeply rooted in the one man, one women, and 1.95 children model. Interestingly, he doesn’t make the common assertion that marriage is strictly a Christian tradition; merely that marriage is something invented by society for the sole purpose of having and raising children. And as a creation of society, so he argues, the government has no place to step in and change things. “Let’s look at that argument a little more closely. I’m quite happy to accept that governments didn’t ‘invent’ marriage, any more than they ‘invented’ the concept of paid work, criminal justice, or food. And yet, these are all things that our government steps in regulate today, so that people are treated fairly and no one is underpaid / locked up without trial / poisoned. The beautiful little process by which this happens in our society is called ‘democracy’, and its main function is not to make sure we all agree (that’s impossible), but to ensure that every human being’s basic rights are protected. “Society changes. All the time. And as we change, our ideas about what fair working conditions are, or how people should be tried for murder, change too. The position of master and slave was once held sacred by society (if maybe not New Zealand’s specifically), but anyone trying to uphold this honoured tradition today would have a fun time at the Court of Appeal. “Today, the world has pretty much accepted that marriage is more than just a tool for the extension of our species, and does not exclude those who, by choice or otherwise, do not have children. It is a way, for those who choose to use it, of expressing one’s absolute devotion to another human being, before each other, and before society. True, it is by no means the only way to do this, and Mr McCoskrie points out, quite correctly, that some same-sex couples take offense at the idea that civil unions are any less valid. “But taking such an option off the table for a significant proportion of the population, for no other reason than antiquated tradition, is unfair, undemocratic, and indefensible. If a same-sex couple wants to reject marriage as an institution, it should be on their own terms, as equal citizens before the law, with the same choices as anyone else. “One final point. And I’m not going to waste it on Mr McCoskrie’s assertion that same-sex marriage is in the same box as marriage legitimising incest and paedophilia, because frankly, merely stating that he made that assertion is enough. “Instead, I want to deal with this common myth shared by many social conservatives that allowing others access to marriage somehow weakens marriage. It’s as if, by a same-sex or non-cisgendered couple declaring their love for one another, a conservative’s own marriage is directly and intimately threatened. The passion by which they ‘defend’ marriage from ‘redefinition’ is matched only by their insecurity that, after thousands of years of adultery and human unfaithfulness, the institution of marriage can suddenly be toppled by two men, deeply and beautifully in love. “Can we please just calm down, and look at the situation rationally? Every person brings their own lens to marriage, and my interpretation of marriage as a straight may be every bit as unorthodox as my queer friend’s interpretation. The point is, neither one of us is going to force you to accept our own interpretation as correct, or even that a correct one exists. Respectfully, that’s a position that you would do well to learn from. “But, if you’re REALLY adamant that marriage is inseparable from child-raising, I suppose a slight tweaking of adoption law to allow same-sex couples the chance to be loving parents would be acceptable too.” Joseph Habgood - 17th May 2012    
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