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Stacking the student deck: Epilogue

Fri 22 Oct 2004 In: Features

THE FLANNAGAN OBJECTIONS TO THE CIVIL UNION BILL asked conservative Christian student activists Matthew and Madeleine Flannagan for the basis of their objection to legal recognition of same-sex relationships and received the following response: "The conclusion that same sex relationships warrant legal recognition is based upon a Neo-Kantian objection to the traditional Christian stance, this objection is unsound. Moreover, even if the major premise of this argument were true, the logical implications of accepting it would provide grounds for rejecting the Bill, not endorsing it. "The Bill accepts every traditional requirement of marriage such as monogamy, fidelity, consent and prohibition on marrying within close degrees of consanguinity and affinity except the requirement that the partner be a member of the opposite sex. We are not aware of any principled objection to this specific requirement, which is not also an objection to one of the others as well. Nor are we aware of any principled reason for accepting all the requirements, except for, the one that a spouse must not be a member of the same sex. "We suspect that proponents of the Bills really do not believe and cannot endorse the implications of their position and as such are engaging in special pleading when they defend them." In other words, if you let the gays and lesbians marry, you have to let brothers and sisters and kids marry too. Despite the pseudo-intellectual language, the rhetoric is the same as that which has been delivered by other Christian conservatives, with varying levels of hysteria, during the civil union debate. It is worth noting that these precise arguments were used in 1985 during the debate on homosexual law reform, and none of it has come to pass. The only "special pleading" that gays and lesbians have had to engage in is the right to be treated as human beings when it comes to legal recognition of their relationships. Nigel Pearson, telling his story on the civil union campaign website, had to engage in his own "special pleading" when tragedy struck. He was denied access to his partner's body after an accidental death: "When I travelled to the hospital in the hope of seeing Stephen at the mortuary my attempts were blocked. The reception staff at the hospital were cordial and helpful, as were the coroner's police. All were informed of my relationship with Stephen; however, no one I spoke to would allow me to see Stephen as I was 'not a family member'... "The hospital mortuary was not an ideal visiting place for a grieving 'friend', and legal authority to have Stephen's body moved by a funeral director rested with the family. I had no legal right to see my dead partner, have his body moved to a more suitable place, or initiate funeral proceedings." Don't worry, Nigel. You'll be able to sleep easier knowing that your grief and hurt is justified because of a "flawed" neo-Kantian objection to traditional Christianity. Chris Banks - 22nd October 2004    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Friday, 22nd October 2004 - 12:00pm

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