Get your government out of my engagement


If you visited this planet as a guest from outer space and quickly scanned Australian media and social media, you would probably get the idea that the question of same-sex marriage is the most crucial and existential problem currently facing the land Down Under – kind of like slavery in the mid-19th century America or totalitarianism in the mid-20th century Europe. Look out for the inner city councils threatening secession, since we already have had Ross Cameron joking about a wall – the Balmain Wall perhaps?

Honestly, people.

The peak absurdity has undoubtedly been just reached with the boycott of the Coopers ale over their beer featuring in a light Bible Society video of a very civil debate over gay marriage. That’s right, a debate. We have two Liberal Parliamentarians stating their respective positions for and against, after which they drink beer. You know what message I get from that video? That we can – and should – have a polite discussion about our policy and ideological differences, and that we can disagree with others without being disagreeable. You know what message large sections of the Australian left got from that video? Screw debate. There is only one good and correct position to have on this issue, and opposite views should be denied hearing. Because bigotry and homophobia or something. The left is not interested in a debate, or freedom to think and speak (no matter how politely), or educating the public; they are only interested in victory – the overwhelming, crushing, unequivocal victory of their position over a contrary one.

This is yet another example in action of the old dictum I have brought up around here a few times before: the right thinks that the left is wrong, the left thinks that the right is evil. If you demonise your opponents and their views, of course you don’t need to debate them; you need to silence them and make sure your view is the only one left standing. After all, there are no pros of the Jewish genocide, and you can’t seriously debate a Nazi or a Holocaust denier. What the left has done for the past few decades is expand that definition of evil beyond any pale to cover all views they disagree with – whether it’s the defence of the traditional marriage, questioning the man-made climate change paradigm, or discussing race. Every issue is now the moral equivalent of the Holocaust.

To reiterate: the Coopers brewery did not take a position, certainly not the position against; their product was merely associated with a very civil debate on the issue.

And now this:

In a letter being prepared to be sent to Mr Turnbull before parliament resumes next week, obtained by The Australian, 20 business leaders from banks, finance compani­es, legal teams, Telstra, Optus, Qantas, Apple, Amex, Holden, accountancy firms and sporting bodies urge him “to legislate for marriage equality so the government can get on with its core economic agenda”.

I mean, WTF? Is the government somehow in a state of shut-down until this issue gets resolved? How about the government just get on with its core economic agenda, like governments are supposed to do? They’re big boys; they can walk and chew gum at the same time (at least I hope).

Now, business leaders have just as much right to express their opinion on any issue as the next citizen. But how about business gets on with its core economic agenda: to make money for shareholders, create jobs, and contribute to growth? I would have more respect for the “business leaders” if instead of spouting platitudes like “Enabling loving, committed couples to be married, regardless of their sexual orientation, will contribute to a stronger economy and a more inclusive Australia”, couching trendy social policy in economic terms to make their advice seem more respectable, they actually focused on more relevant matters. I don’t know, maybe giving same-sex couples an option to legally marry will somehow “contribute to a stronger economy” (more work for wedding planners? florists?), but you know what will definitely contribute to a stronger economy? Lower taxes, less regulation and red tape, more competition, less intervention, smaller government, and less government spending and public debt. When was the last time Australian business seriously argued in favour of genuine and proven pro-market and pro-growth policies? Instead, our top end of town are a bunch of anti-competition rent-seekers and mendicants bowing down to every trendy leftie social piety.

We shouldn’t be having this debate at all, and not because like the left we want to silence the voices we don’t like, but because this is something that government should not be involved in at all. We already have laws dealing with property and entitlements issues of de facto couples; there is no need for the government to regulate whether and how these couples express their commitment to each other. In that the business leaders are right: let the government stick to its core business. Leave the church weddings to those who want to marry in the church, and leave the secular weddings to those who opt for a non-religious ceremony. You want the government out of your bedroom? Congratulations; let’s start one step earlier and get the government out of our weddings too.

We could all do worse than to follow the example of states like Alabama – yes, the bigoted redneck deep southern Alabama of popular imagination:

Last week, the Yellowhammer State’s Senate passed a measure that would abolish marriage licenses altogether while removing ceremonial requirements for obtaining marriage.

Instead of the state issuing documents and requiring that agents of the state take part in the marriage process, the state would simply record affidavits of marriage between two consenting parties.

That’s two consenting parties of any gender. I, for one, don’t believe that marriage is a human right, but even if it was, it’s not up to government to, at their benevolent discretion, dispense rights to the ever-grateful population. If you don’t give the government the power you don’t have to later beg the government to exercise that power in your favour. Now pronounce yourself husband and wife, and for God’s sake, let’s finish with this ridiculous debate.