We continue to converse with advocates of "gay marriage", in particular those members of parliament elected on a Greens Party platform who continue to announce to us their party's commitment to "marriage equality". First, however, we should distinguish the "gay marriage" movement from Parliamentary proponents of "marriage equality". The first is political; the second is legislative.
The modus operandi adopted by these advocates represents a glaring political ambiguity, if not outright contradiction. There are other ambiguities and contradictions nested in our way of doing politics to which NJ has pointed from time to time. Before identifying this one let us note how the Labor Party confronts its own problem. Since the 1980s when Hawke and Keating took the parliamentary reins, Labor has promoted itself as the party of economic rationalism. It tries to appeal to its socialist roots while endorsing the autonomy of the market. Can any contradiction in the political structure of our political life, whether cynical or obsessive, be greater than this?
Some Labor voters hoped this contradiction could be overcome by Kevin Rudd's Christian socialist appeal to Keir Hardie and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see his famous essay Faith in Politics). Rudd was explicit in his desire to return Labor to its "heartland". But that Christian social-democratic intention had to face the grim reality of the global financial melt-down two years ago and his subsequent departure from the Prime Ministerial office followed. Now the minority federal Government approaches the nation's business as if sensitivity to the swings and round-abouts of the global financial market is the managerial basis for all public policy development. This view has broad cross-party compliance. Not even the Greens challenge that view of government these days. And, with that as basis, there is not much historical "wriggle" room to sail the Labor Party ship out of the ambiguous waters in which Bob and Paul left it, as Labor die-hards wonder whether the "heartland" has been drowned by electoral success, while the turbulent electoral tide is Labor's post-modern "destiny"! Is it the media polls which drive Labor's policy these days, now that union meeting ballots no longer control Labor's agenda?
Quite understandably, Greens Party candidates get votes at election times from voters who still want some semblance of "wriggle room". Given our historical situation, in which we still have to think and act politically, is it not good to affirm our political freedom and call for a greater level of responsibility and boldness? Is not this the reason why many fellow citizens say: "Yes this time I am voting Greens!" The 2010 Greens Party marketing officers have caught this sentiment in the Victorian electorate.
So, it is nothing less than significant to note how the Greens Party, having led the way in this country to a recognition that environmental impact assessments must be a sine qua non of any public policy change, should allow itself to become identified with a reckless demand for "marriage equality" without at the same time insisting that an institutional impact assessment be provided for all citizens of how such a change would impact the entire fabric of life in this polity! A comprehensive political evaluation of the institutional impact of such a proposed change to the legislated definition of lawful marriage should be the centre-piece of any such policy proposal presented to the Parliament. But it is somewhat surprising, if not scandalous, that a Bill demanding such a change, which its proponents say is necessitated by a fundamental denial of human rights, should be put forward in the current situation without such an assessment. And, of course, the debate also needs to include such assessments from the opponents of "gay marriage" and "marriage equality". This kind of assessment should have already been put to the Federal Parliament for the consideration of elected members, since the 2010 Bill simply followed on the one from 2009. As it is it is engaging in a mere waste of time with a silly proposal, which in its 2009 incarnation said there was "no financial impact"! If that had been noted for its political meaning by opponents, even though it had been blithely entered into the former Bill as one of its necessary clauses, it is likely that the 2010 effort of the Greens MHR would have been stopped dead in its tracks! To my knowledge this fact, which is easily verified, has simply slipped away and not featured in any major public debate about "marriage equality" ever since. [I stand to be corrected on this - Hansard should be consulted.] If Greens Party voters, let alone party members, want the Greens Party to have an increasing contribution in our Parliament, they should never allow themselves to become party to such naïve politicking in which Parliament becomes captive to such a manipulative and ill-thought-out political project. In the meantime, all it has achieved is to confirm the suspicion that "gay marriage" is simply part of movement that pushes on regardless to the next phase of its social engineering experiment.
That is also the reason that I suggest that this political demand of our fellow citizens is naïve and reckless. Instead, the Greens Party should turn its attention to where it needs to be and develop policies which will call on the mass media to change course and stop the sexualization of our public life by an obsessive, prurient, obscene commercialising of human instincts, not only of children but also of them too. THAT, if Greens Party members are serious about the future of the planet, is one issue that SHOULD be exercising their political imaginations as they think about promoting true justice and reckoning with the kind of society we have become and the kind of bleak environmental future that they are eager to warn us about. That future is made all the more immanent by this silly, legislative fiddling that wants to use parliament and the legitimate debate about marriage in our society to publicly demonstrate its obsessive same-sex sentiments.
Does this line of questioning help us distinguish between the movement that has made an impact upon Greens policies, and the party itself? I am not a Greens Party member, or even a Greens voter, and I put forward this question for Greens voters, party members and candidates to think about. The distinction helps us to identify an underlying historical dynamic which the Greens Party did not initiate, but within which, sadly, it has become so uncritically enmeshed. I put this forward out of respect for what the Greens have already achieved among us in this polity over the past two decades - and with only minimal parliamentary representation which alone should have provoked us to seriously re-examination of our own Christian political impotence. We need to carefully monitor the entire political situation with care. We need to note the contributions of the many serious and earnest Christians who either vote Greens or who work within its party We have indeed benefited from these persistent efforts to promote environmental justice. The inequity in parliamentary representation needs to be addressed without the aforementioned silly legislative distraction. But as long as the Greens Party is happy to publicly identify itself as the "gay marriage" party, the more Labor and Liberal will also entrench themselves as small-g conservationist parties.
We are dealing here with a significant social movement which, since the 1950s and 1960s, has claimed for itself a "progressivist" agenda with roots in the proclamation that human sexuality is an autonomous power that must be obeyed and allowed to freely reshape our civilisation. In that regard the gay marriage movement is but a latter-day endorsement of a view that seemed to prevail back then but which now, for many "Baby Boomers", has lost its potency, namely that modernity means autonomy and the divinity of self. That message was, and is, that every truly modern or post-modern guy or gal must seek to be free from all conventional sexual ruts in order to identify with all the liberated, lovely people. Is "gay marriage" and the demand for "marriage equality" a further experimental phase of the psycho-political struggle that is necessitated by this presumption? It may be, but how can "marriage equality" be effectively opposed politically if we do not become part of a political movement that also challenges politically such a sexualised world-view, as well as the forces and policies which maintain the reckless depletion of the environment's support-base for all living things, as well as the progressive commercialised sexualization of the mass media?
We still have lots more to think about. And though we are not the only ones, let us do so boldly.
Nurturing Justice is written by Bruce Wearne, Point Lonsdale, to encourage a sustained Christian political contribution by seeking justice in the gentle and merciful rule of Jesus Christ, the ruler over all of the earth's political regimes.
November 2010 © The contents of this email are copyright. Editions may be photocopied or retransmitted in their entirety but not otherwise reprinted or transmitted without permission. "Nurturing Justice" is a project to encourage Christian political reflection based upon wise and loving civic participation. Comments are welcome and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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