Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hatred First

Really, there should be nothing left about Family Fist that shocks me anymore. But Andrew Evans' spray against the SA Bill that equalises the legal status of same-sex couples with straight de factos caught even me off-guard in its poisonousness (now there's a sweet word).

Credit to him that he still manages to avoid the words "God" or "Bible" throughout, disguising his Bible-bashing behind a thin veneer of supposedly secular "family values", but clearly FF feel cornered and are lashing out.

Below is my SX column, followed by some extra thoughts that could not be condensed into the word limit.

The venomous fangs of Family First are finally starting to bite, after years of ingeniously marketing itself as something other than the extremist, fundamentalist anti-queer organisation it truly is.

Unfortunately, there will likely be little reporting of this revelation as it's only evident in the parlimentary speech of South Australian Family First leader, and former Assemblies of God pastor (not that the two have any connection, of course!) Andrew Evans, objecting to the Bill that will mostly equalise same-sex couples with de facto heterosexual couples in legal status, finally bringing SA in line with all other states.

This week, most people only are interested in the vicious spray of just one (former) parliamentarian, Mark Latham, but the gay-bashing inherent in Evans' bitter words should not be overlooked. He claims that “ that same-sex relationships tend to be relatively brief and rarely monoga­mous. It is for this reason that marriage has been given higher status and has enjoyed superior rights over other relationships in every civilisation throughout history.” This is the pinnacle of specious reasoning, considering that homosexuality was until the 1970s largely considered a mental illness curable with frequent ECT sessions, and an affront to the numerous same-sex couples whose relationships have in fact lasted years in the face of so many obstacles.

But Evans is just warming up. Introducing some hate-mongering against same-sex couple families, despite the fact that this particular Bill has deliberately avoided any adoption, IVF or parental reform, he reads into Hansard a letter from a supposed constituent that “illustrate(s) the atrocity that same-sex relationships may cause in some situations for children”. On that logic, there would be millions of precedents to outlaw opposite-sex parents if the criteria were that their children felt resentment against them in later years.

Naturally, the old chestnut of same-sex couples constituting a very small number of the community is dragged out, although it would be a brave politician these days who argues against legislative reform for Indigenous Australians, people with intellectual or physical disabilities and other minorities, based on their relatively small numbers.

Finally, predictable as ever, Evans whines about the “detrimental effects on marriage” same-sex law reform will have. Sorry Andrew, but heterosexuals are perfectly capable of bringing down that institution by themselves. Since queer folk are banned from marriage, we can hardly be blamed for the nearly 50% divorce rate now, can we? Evans also neglects that tiny detail of how marriage is governed by federal legislation, and he is a State MP debating a State Bill.

If Family First equates “family values” with lies, hatred and fear, it is little wonder nearly 98% of the voting population rejected this party at the last election.

The other means by which anti-queer campaigners attempt to legitimise their crusade to override people's civil rights is to draw attention to their own legislation in which same-sex couples may benefit from creating a category of "interdependents", where people can nominate their beneficiaries based on criteria other than a sexual relationship. So Evans relays various anecdotes about friends or sisters who have lived together for 30+ years and who are discriminated against by a Bill that only targets same-sex couples for reform.

That's lovely and all - and it's the attitude federal Liberal is claiming to adopt with superannuation reform - but effectively it's equating and entrenching same-sex couples on a lower level of relationship status. Sure, people taking care of one another in their twilight years, whom Evans would have us believe are plentiful, should have some safeguards too, but reforms limited to interdependents negates the reality of same-sex relationships - that, like straight couples, they live together, socalise together, share bank accounts together, shop at Ikea together and, yes, fuck together. They're not looking after each other because they're elderly or impaired, they live together because they love each other and are committed to an equitable relationship. These should be kept two very separate and distinct areas of law reform. Perhaps interdependents who feel discriminated against could form their own lobby group and work their arses off to have their grievances taken seriously and legislated for, the way queers have had to (and continue to) for over thirty years.

I'm not so naive that I don't realise Evans could readily produce statistical figures proving that long-term same-sex relationships make up a small number of the population. But taking that to his conclusion, that such relationships therefore do not deserve any legal rights, is both insulting and offensive. By Evans' logic - and I'm sure his personal beliefs reflect this - queers may as well not even bother to attempt to commit to a long-term relationship; we should just continue to live in the sinful life of singledom, dance parties and multiple sexual partners - the very stereotypes for which we're so vociferously criticised.

Surely, if there is legislation that encourages queers to create and maintain their relationships, that indicates such relationships are both legitimate and legally-binding, this sends out the message that there can be more to life for queer people than the hedonistic single life after all. But clearly Evans doesn't think this way; in a typically paradoxical FF double standard they want to force us down and then criticise us when we're down there trying to lift ourselves up.

The reality in SA is that opposers of same-sex law reform form the majority in the Legislative Council, so this Bill will continue to be delayed for further unnecessary parliamentary analysis and "community consultation" (ie an open invitation for AFA, Festival of Light, Salt Shakers etc to piss on it some more). South Australians will have to wait until early next year, when likely the state Labor party will win a majority in both houses and be able to push the Bill through without any practical hurdles. Even though, as I have pointed out before, the SA Attorney-General is one of his own Bill's greatest enemies, the party is explicitly committed to this reform and it will happen once it has the numbers. The day the likes of Andrew Evans become politically redundant will be a sunny day of common sense, a victory for civil liberties and a blow against the enemies of fundamental human rights.


At 21/9/05 10:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read about these people, been to the websites and still cannot find a reason for their unrelenting hatred and desire to exterminate Gays. If they are so determined to stick to the word of God why aren't throwing their weight behind the peace movement? Trying to understand this enemy isn't the answer to defeating them. JT

At 22/9/05 3:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Finally, predictable as ever, Evans whines about the “detrimental effects on marriage” same-sex law reform will have."

I am still waiting for an anti-same-sex marriage dill to explain what these 'detrimental effects' are. -Ron

At 23/9/05 11:12 am, Blogger Fred said...

I read that speech, and it is fucking long.

I can't believe someone would pour so much energy into creating something so hateful.

At 23/9/05 12:25 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I agree Fred. I used to find all that hard work for hatred scary and unsettling, now I'm just resigned to finding it very sad.

At 26/9/05 7:21 pm, Blogger Crystal said...

Hear Hear and Amen to all the above, and Congratulations to Melbourne friends Christopher and Richard newlywed in Toronto only days ago.


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