Why I’ll be saying ‘I don’t’

SHERRY SUFI lives in South Lake and is chair of the WA Liberal Party’s Policy Committee. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, on the eve of the WA Liberal party conference, he argues that we should vote against same sex marriage in Australia. Mr Sufi was the Liberal candidate for Fremantle at last year’s federal election, but withdrew after an audio recording of him doing a lewd impression of his former boss, Mount Lawley MP Michael Sutherland, emerged. Mr Sufi holds a bachelors of arts (philosophy), master of arts (politics and international studies) and master of history. The views expressed are his own.

AUSTRALIANS will soon make a choice on redefining marriage.

This is a good thing.

It helps us settle one of the most divisive social issues of our time.

We will move forwards as a nation, whatever the outcome.

Making an informed decision requires basic familiarity with both sides of the debate.

Yet it’s nearly impossible to argue against same sex marriage.

Not because the arguments in its favour are invincible, but because nine times out of ten its supporters are unwilling to tolerate a different viewpoint.

They find it easier to defame the character of their critic than to fault the logic of the critic’s argument.

This leaves us with a social media landscape that is dominated by arguments ‘for’ same sex marriage, while the arguments ‘against’ it remain grossly under-represented, if not misrepresented.

What no one from either side of politics seems to be bringing up is that any campaign for social equality should ultimately be about equal treatment, not equal ‘classification’.

We agree, black and white people should be treated the same.

But we don’t classify them as one race because they’re not.

We agree, women and men should be treated the same.

But we don’t classify them as one gender because they’re not.

We agree, Buddhists and Christians should be treated the same.

But we don’t classify them as one religion because they’re not.

We agree, poor and rich should be treated the same.

But we don’t classify them as one demographic because they’re not.

We agree, gay and straight couples should be treated the same.

So why should we classify their relationships as one institution—marriage—when they’re not?

Equal classification

Western civilisation has a proud history of facilitating campaigns for equality that were just and noble.

Those campaigns had no interest in seeking equal classification.

African American slaves never sought to be classified as white Americans.

They sought to be free like white Americans. And the 13th amendment took care of that in 1865. American women never sought to be classified as men.

They sought to have the same democratic rights as men.

And the 19th amendment took care of that in 1920.

Both campaigns came to a graceful end.

If Australia’s so-called marriage ‘equality’ campaign was seeking equal treatment, it would have come to a graceful end almost a decade ago when the Rudd Government passed the Same Sex Relationships Act (2008).

This little known Act extended to gay couples the same legal rights, benefits and facilities as straight couples for taxation, superannuation, immigration, social welfare, medicare, aged care and child support.

Yet prolonged insistence to redefine marriage comes with implications.

Current Australian law says marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

It specifies both the gender and the number of participants.

If we are to redefine marriage at all, why stop at two?

There are cultures where a man can take multiple wives.

Arbitrarily picking and choosing to facilitate one minority view while neglecting another is neither democratic nor pluralistic.

I for one believe we should keep the current definition of marriage as it is and I believe most Australians would too if they considered the points raised here.

More than 90 per cent of Australians voted in favour of Indigenous Australians having the right to vote in the 1967 referendum.

We are a politically mature nation that knows when to vote for the right social change.

If the upcoming vote was about equal treatment, it would be imperative to vote yes. But it isn’t.

I will be voting no and I encourage you to do the same.

2 responses to “Why I’ll be saying ‘I don’t’

  1. Still not convinced but that has got to be the most empathetic view put forward by a conservative yet. Interesting stuff, Mr Sufi.

  2. Mr Sufi claims this issue should be about equal treatment, rather than equal classification. He states that same-sex couples enjoy equal treatment under certain laws, suggesting no compelling need for them to marry. Yet if marriage to him is merely a classification, then why deny it to same-sex couples? Clearly it’s more than that, to both those that currently enjoy the right to marry and those that seek it.

    The historic disadvantage that same-sex couples have endured – and continue to endure – might explain the anger and frustration expressed by the majority of those seeking to redress it. Explain it, but not excuse it.

    The Marriage Act was amended in 2004 to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman, thereby denying marriage to same-sex couples. It seems Mr Sufi approves when laws are changed in his favour, yet disapproves of amendment otherwise.

    Let’s consider reversing the restriction imposed in 2004 and not get distracted by the myriad of unfounded fears created by one side to sow doubt and demonise the other side.

    The question to ask is; why can’t marriage be defined as “the wilful lifelong commitment, to the exclusion of others, between two non-related adults”.

    This is not solely about procreation, as married couples aren’t forced to have children, single parents can have children and same-sex couples raise their children as well as, if not better than, hetero couples. This is about formally recognising two people that are deeply in love with each other and want to openly commit to spending their remaining lives together, but without prejudice to the shape of their private parts. I’d like them to be able to say “They Do”.

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