More from the world of the Postal Survey

First, just to make it plain, I do not believe that every opponent of same-sex marriage is a homophobe. Indeed there are examples of same-sex couples who will themselves choose NO in the current Postal Survey. Nor do I think that Israel Folau has no right to his views compared with David Pocock, to confine ourselves to Rugby players for the moment. Naturally, though, I do hope that there are many more David Pococks in the Postal Survey!

Second, I commend careful reading of Legal Eagle’s thoroughly thoughtful post.

But when it comes to the NO case as it now so often appears, I still cannot but see it as other than rampant Chicken Little. Or slippery slope-ism. That the question is essentially a simple one seems to get lost. See my previous post for more.

I particularly can’t get – though John Howard can – the argument on religious liberty. Legal Eagle helps.

It’s true to say (as some of my Yes vote advocate friends have said) that religious freedom and freedom of speech are different questions from the question that is being asked in the survey. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we don’t even know what we’re voting on – they won’t prepare a Bill until we vote on whether we want the law or not. But I think that any provision for same-sex marriage should make it clear that it will not force religious groups to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. Some of my religious friends are worried about what the position may become if a Yes vote stands, and cite the example of the Tasmanian pastor and preacher who have been the subject of complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. They fear this is the beginning of a greater trend. They are concerned that the acceptance of same-sex marriage will mean anti-discrimination legislation can be used to make religious people suppress their views, and to have to conduct same-sex marriages against their will. And then, of course, there’s the services cases (involving flowers or cakes for same-sex marriages).

As an aside, I have never understood why a person would wish to force a reluctant florist or baker to provide for a same-sex wedding. If I were in that position, I would rather not give the service provider money, nor have them anywhere near my wedding. But this may be something to do with my private law background – as a general principle of law, courts are usually unwilling to specifically enforce contracts for services because of the coercive nature of such relief (see eg, JC Williamson Ltd v Lukey (1931) 45 CLR 282, 293 (Starke J), 297–98 (Dixon J); Byrne v Australian Airlines Ltd (1995) 185 CLR 410, 428 (Brennan CJ, Dawson and Toohey JJ)). The rationale for the rule with regard to contracts for services is that it’s inappropriate to force parties who don’t get along any more to work together. And I guess that’s a greater point. As my co-blogger Skepticlawyer has pointed out, you can’t use the law to force people to like you or accept you.

In today’s news we read Church cancels wedding because bride and groom supported gay marriage on Facebook.

Presbyterian ministers and churchgoers are under clear directions to oppose same-sex marriage. Mr Wilson, who is also moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, published a blog post committing the church to the “no” case and calling on attendees to campaign actively.

“There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this,” Mr Wilson wrote.

However, other church sources suggested the Ballarat experience was uncommon. Darren Middleton, convenor of the Church and Nation committee and a Geelong minister, said it was the first such case he had encountered.

“This is a decision for individual ministers to make. My guess is most probably would have let the wedding go ahead,” he told Fairfax Media. “It’s not normally a requirement to get married that you subscribe to particular views. I would want to talk to them about their views … but that wouldn’t be a bar to them getting married. That’s a separate issue in my mind.”…

On Facebook Trevor Khan MLC NSW (National Party) has commented:

So, let’s be clear:
1) This demonstrates that churches, now, have an absolute discretion (enshrined in the Marriage Act) as to who they chose to marry, and
2) Neither side has a mortgage on “crazy”.

My background, by the way, is Presbyterian.

And here is something else we can well do without.


That is  former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s godson, bashed during an argument about same-sex marriage.

Now some personal notes. I am not TELLING people how to answer the survey. VOTE is apparently not the right word, by the way. But I am hoping that the majority do choose YES because, as I keep saying, it is the right thing to do. First there are all those same-sex couples I have known, not all of whom would have opted for marriage personally, though I suspect all would have supported the right of those who did so choose to have that option. Second there is my own relationship commencing in 1990 — yes, 27 years ago — with M. We did live together for over ten years, and still mean a great deal to one another. M was at my side at my mother’s funeral in 1996. One memory is of M sitting ensconced with my Aunt Beth at Kay and Roy’s place in Sutherland after that funeral. M’s own mother and younger sister have passed away this year.

Another highlight was the following year, when M, who is from Shanghai, gained his Australian citizenship. William Yang recorded it.


Fast forward to 2012 here in Wollongong:


Please! Ignore the Chicken Littles on “freedom of speech”, “freedom of religion”, and weirdness like the Revenant of Oz and her nonsense about not being able to call your Mum and Dad Mum and Dad! Choose a kinder Australia when you mark your survey form!

One thought on “More from the world of the Postal Survey

  1. Unfortunately Rev-Darren Middleton is no different from many others and throws all into the same box, including his own brother, Darren dons’t want to listen and will block and remove anyone who think or say’s other wise. Many of us don’t want marriage.

    Unfortunately –

    1: I need that piece of paper, what you call it i don’t care? as long as it doesn’t say the word MARRIAGE on it.
    Church, religion and government then become irrelevant- uniting two people is between two people, not two people and a government or two people and a church.

    2: I need to be acknowledged in a hospital as the legal guardian/Kin to my partner and vice versa if anything should happen. Don’t tackle me on this ether, i stood in the corridor of a well know Melbourne hospital for hours, due to the fact they didn’t acknowledge me as the immediate guardian/Kin to my partner- in 2012 & 13.

    3: I need to be secure, if one of us should pass, then family, church or government can not take what rightfully belongs to my partner.

    4: ALL CHILDREN no matter what relationship there in, need a male and female roll model on a regular bases in their lives while growing up, its hard at times but its fair… I’ve had one, I’ve been there.
    And don’t give me you get the same rights as De-facto- YOU DON’T and we’ve been together for 35yrs.
    Below are some of the things I’m fighting for.
    And one last thing- “you are not being forced to acknowledge a gay relationship as a marriage?” As a private citizen, you would be under no such obligation — at least not legally. You would be under no more obligation to acknowledge the marriage to two men or two women than you would be to acknowledge any other marriage — the marriage of a Catholic and a Jew, the marriage of a white woman and a black man, the marriage of an 60-year-old and an 18-year-old, or my own marriage for that matter. Think about it?
    Automatic inheritance.

    Divorce protections.
    Employment equality.
    Immigration law.
    Retirement plans.
    Right to a fair trial.
    Social security benefits.
    Legal protection from discrimination based on sexuality.
    Health insurance continuation of health coverage.
    Medical decision-making power on behalf of a spouse.
    Right to medical coverage and safe access to care.
    Access to equal education.
    Access to family insurance policies.
    Domestic violence protections.
    and so on- the same rights as every other person,
    the right to form a family & be safe.

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