Opposing gay marriage doesn't mean I'm barking

By Barry Cohen, who is homosexual and who happens to be my favourite Australian politician, sadly now ex. His book, "The Yartz" must be about the funniest book I have ever read -- JR

I'M in love with Jamie and Hamish, before that it was Fergus and Dougal. Now that I've got that off my chest I sense an enormous feeling of relief. No more regrets. No more hiding my preferences. Everyone knows now. I can relax.

Despite that, I don't plan to marry any of them, primarily because I don't like nails down my back during the night even if they are those of a border collie. Which brings us into the topic du jour: gay marriage.

When I first saw it mentioned about 20 years ago I nearly had a conniption. What a wonderful sense of humour these boys and gels have. Then I realised they were serious. My amazement was exceeded only when I saw recent polls sponsored by the gay movement to show the majority of Australians actually support marriage between same-sex couples. My, how things have changed.

If I had any doubts, they were removed while watching a recent episode of ABC1's Q&A. The subject was raised and any doubts as to whether Q&A stacks its audience with a Left bias were dismissed by the sneering, booing and ridicule at any member of the panel who was less than enthusiastic about gay marriage. The inference was that those who opposed it were homophobic and-or barking mad (no pun intended).

This tactic has been used by the Green-gay lobby because they are well aware there is nothing the cognoscenti and commentariat dislike more than to be called right-wing, neo-conservative or redneck. One's views on same-sex marriage, climate change, hatred of Israel and the US guarantees you acceptance by the cafe latte set. Just in case you hadn't realised it by now, I'm of the view that the idea of two people of the same sex being "married" is absurd. But homophobic, I think not. Unlike many of the "in" crowd I have runs on the board.

Let me take you back to October 18, 1973, in the House of Representatives.

John Gorton, member for Higgins: "I move that in the opinion of this House homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law."

A stirring address by the former prime minister was followed by Moss Cass (Maribyrnong), John Cramer (Bennelong) and Bert James (Hunter). The debate was cut short due to the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Please, no jokes about queens.

The question was put and carried by 64 to 40. Among those who voted yes were Les Bury, Jim Cairns, Clyde Cameron, Moss Cass, Don Chipp, Frank Crean, Kep Enderby, Gorton, Bill Hayden, Phil Ruddock, Ian Sinclair, Tom Uren, Gough Whitlam, Ralph Willis and you guessed it, yours truly.

On the "no" side were Lance Barnard, Kim Beazley Sr, Lionel Bowen, Rex Connor, Cramer, Fred Daly, Paul Keating, Jim Killen, Phil Lynch, Billy Snedden, Bill Wentworth. Gradually the states followed suit.

My philosophy was simple. It is enshrined in a column I wrote in The Australian (January 25, 1995) when gays started to get serious about what most Australians thought was a huge joke.

I wrote: "It concerns me not at all what adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom or for that matter their kitchens, bathroom or laundry. Should they choose to stand on their heads, wave their legs in the air or swing from chandeliers, providing they do not do each other a serious mischief, it is, or should be entirely a matter for them."

Having held that publicly expressed view for as long as I can recall, it will not surprise readers that on those occasions when I was called upon to vote in the House of Representatives on such matters I voted against legislation that discriminated against homosexuals. I have since applauded any measure by any government or institution that has broken down the prejudice against those with a different sexual preference.

A lot has happened in the past 40 years that has been of benefit to the gay community. Some I agreed with, others went too far, but marriage between people of the same sex giving them equal status with heterosexual couples, in my view, goes way beyond the pale. They argue that the present law discriminates against them. It does. And it's the same reason why I can't marry Jamie or Hamish.

And how about the discrimination against pedophiles, prohibiting sexual relations with children? Why do we discriminate against 15-year-old girls and boys for what used to be called carnal knowledge? Why do we ban men from entering women's toilets or vice versa? I could go on but I'm sure you discern my drift. We discriminate because society believes it is the right and moral thing to do.

Marriage was considered, until recently, sacrosanct. Bigamy and polygamy are banned. Why should we discriminate against men who want more than one wife, or wives who want more than one husband?

With all its flaws, and few marriages are perfect, marriage is the bedrock on which our society is based. It won't be if these twerps have their way.

The time has come for us "neocons" to fight back and tell the gay community that we've gone from prohibition to tolerance to acceptance, but we won't accept that gay marriage and conventional marriage is the same thing.

They might have got some of what they wanted if they had asked for a gay marriage act, quite separate from conventional marriage but can you expect them to accept a gay marriage certificate proclaiming them to be a gay couple?

It is to be hoped that those who support conventional marriage as one of the building blocks on which our society is built will stand up and tell the gay community it's not going to happen. Not even if hell freezes over.


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