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This one is hotting up for parliamentary attention next week, with both the Australian Christian Lobby and Getup! campaigning from opposite sides. It looks like it’s going to be high noon at the OK Corral as these two shape up to each other in their lobbying for support. Funny thing is that, in the past, I have sided with each on different occasions on various issues.
I have held back on this one because I’m not satisfied with the arguments of either side. I’m aware this puts me in “no man’s land” the place where one wins suspicion of being a person of no conviction, where one becomes a target for rotten tomatoes from both sides.
The “againsts”, I fear, are guilty of hyperbole. They say that only the traditional nuclear family can offer the solid building block for society. If the world was a black and white version of “Pleasantville” that might be the case. My experience of family units who display all sorts of variations on the proverbial norm says it is not so. Some of the most solid folk I know were brought up in nurturing environments that were anything but ordinary. Some of the most damaged people I have encountered describe a traditional mum-dad-and-kids environment. Whatever the arrangement, it seems to me that loving, respectful, nurturing relationships, whatever the age, gender or cultural mix, are what engender that much sought after solid family unit.
Again I find myself hesitant to cast my lot with the “fors”, as sympathetic as I am with the case for equal recognition of a coupled relationship without discrimination and the legal rights appended to it. My dilemma is, that many couples, regardless of sexual orientation, have a high regard for marriage, and it is right that that they pursue the removal of blocks that prevent the fullest expression of what it can mean as the highest level of spiritual and practical commitment to each other. The thing is that “marriage” itself has become the rallying point, thus altering the subtle nature of what all, in non combative mode, might appreciate as its subtlety, mystery and sanctity. I fear these things are lost in the heat of battle. Of course, some would argue that this is a temporary turbulence and it must be endured for the sake of the long term goal.
I feel there needs to be a reframing of the question of what constitutes marriage and that the wisdom of tradition, culture, and contemporary anthropology need to be in play, not as combatants, but seeking partners.
I am also aware it has been too long for those alienated by the current system and that a measure of justice is crying out for satisfaction.
And so I remain a mugwump, sitting on the barbed wire fence in no man’s land, a place of ambiguity, until a better way forward emerges.