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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bmag July 24th 2012 - Marriage feedback

Last issue, I suggested a possible compromise and way forward on the stalemate that is same-sex marriage, namely having two different types of marriage – a church marriage and civil marriage. The latter would allow for same-sex couples to be married and to use the word “married”, which I argue is not owned by the church. I’m enjoying reading all your emails and tweets on the subject, which continue to fill my inbox. I’ve decided to devote this issue’s column to a cross-section of responses.

Pose Tafa writes: “I agree we need two types of marriage. The church does not have sole rights to marriage.” Florence Day says: “What a sane, practical and non-confrontational concept. The only downside is – when have we ever managed to convince our government to do anything sane or practical?” And from Kerry Read: “At last! Someone else shares my view on the marriage debate. The dual marriage idea sounds like a good compromise although I would call it a faith marriage to encompass all faiths and denominations. Let each religion determine their requirements for a faith marriage.” Chris Hassall agrees: “Up there for thinking, you! All couples should be able to say ‘we’re getting married’”. Harriett Russ says it’s “a great and fair idea”, Kathryn Britt, Laurence Barber and Natalie Bochenski all use the word “sensible”, Dale Napier says “this is the best outcome”, Carmen Anderson “would vote for this option” and Sal Piracha applauds “someone looking for a solution, not just hating the problem”. Kathy Schirmer says “I congratulate you for your suggestion to have church marriage and civil marriage. Seems so logical and I hope the community supports this too.” Matthew Orbit likes it but fears “further dividing Christian homosexuals from the church when there is a support/family there” and says “the zealots on both sides won’t go for it”.

That’s the trouble with compromise. No-one gets everything they want. Everyone has to give a little. But there are bmag readers not willing to budge, like Nathan Thomas who argues that “the church fights all kinds of social change – the right to vote for women, for example. They just need to adapt and learn to accept gay people as equal citizens”. Also not willing to compromise is Rob Roy: “If you accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’, I assume you accept the manifesto that marriage can be defined as polygamy, polyandry and even bestiality as long as the animal is not harmed. The proposed brave new world interfering with the basis of our society is far from brave. Indeed it is very foolish and shortsighted.” Bill McCormack goes further, cautioning: “Unbelievers have their worldly opinion and that is OK but one day you will have to take account. Once you have been warned you have no excuse. At the day of judgement you won’t be able to call on theory, logic, mates’ views, etc. You are on your own.” Allan Templeton tells me his “ideal solution” bears similarities to my own and that “many of my Christian friends disagree with me, thinking I am a bit too liberal”. The only trouble is, Bill then goes on to argue that while he supports same-sex “civil unions”, only church marriages can truly be “marriages” because “the oldest recorded mention of ‘marriage’ is in the book of Genesis where it reports that marriage was instituted by God”. And there you have the church’s claim on the word “marriage” yet again. Echoing my words in the last issue of bmag, Maria Frangos writes: “The church should not force its beliefs on people who are not members.” That said, many will agree with Heath Goddard when he says: “I do not like the aggression that I observe in the stridency of the gay community in foisting their preferences on the majority.”

Mel Kettle points out that “in France, only the civil marriage ceremony is legal. Any religious ceremony must be after the civil and is not legally recognised”. So there is a precedent. I’ll leave the final word to Paul Rigby, who writes: “I suspect that in 50 years, people will look back at this debate and wonder what the fuss was all about.” Wouldn’t we all love to travel into the future to find out?!

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