Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Expected Return from Hiatus

We will return from hiatus later this year. It is expected to be around the middle of the year.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hiatus

The TaraElla Values Group has been suspended for now.

The website and all the resources will remain available indefinitely.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Marriage Equality Will Save Marriage and Families

We all need to recognise one thing: marriage is in crisis. Marriage rates have been declining for many years, and the decline has not halted unfortunately. If the trend is not reversed, I am afraid that many of us will live to see a time when marriage will have become a minority concern. It's a tough reality, but it's one that we need to face.

In response to this phenomenon, there have been efforts on marriage promotion. However, these have been very limited in their success. Just why marriage promotion is not working very well needs to be studied, and programs will need to be improved upon. I suspect that opponents painting marriage as outdated, hierarchical and elitist, amongst other things, have had at least some effect. I don't believe in any of that rubbish personally, but I know people who do. In the long run we need strategies to defeat comprehensively the 'liberation' ideology that has torpedoed marriage. However, there is no way we can win either the short or long term game on this without marriage equality.

Looking into the future, there is one clear threat to marriage promotion: that much of the younger generation are starting to see marriage as an exclusionary, bigoted institution. In fact, it is happening right now - there have been plenty of reports of young people including pleas for marriage equality in their ceremonies, feeling conflicted about sending out the marriage invites, etc. Not every young couple feels the same disgust about the exclusionary aspects, but as long as a significant proportion of the younger generation do feel this way, I suspect few of them would be too happy to get on board marriage promotion or be actively pro-marriage in culture. Not when it is promoting an institution excluding and hurting their gay and lesbian friends, and in many cases, family members.

Let me put it more bluntly: when marriage clearly excludes gay and lesbian couples, every word of marriage promotion will hurt their feelings - this is literally true, and something that cannot be said any milder. As a result, marriage promotion will rightly be seen as a hurtful exercise by many young people. Even I, a supporter of marriage, have had trouble explaining to my friends that whilst I support marriage I don't support the exclusionary aspect of the marriage laws out there. I simply have given up on talking about the matter most of the time.

Most of the older generations will have a difficult time grasping the concepts outlined above. After all, their generation of gay people are often more closeted, and many were/are not that interested in marriage. In any case, the older generations developed their attitudes towards marriage without the same sex marriage issue in consideration. However, they must try to put themselves in the shoes of the younger generations if marriage revitalisation and promotion is to work in the younger generations. After all, the most important place for marriage to flourish, the most important cohort for which marriage must remain strong, is the younger generations - because they are or soon will be raising the next generation.

Just like on many other issues, standing still and not changing a thing does not mean we can go back to the past. It does not mean conservative values won't miss out. Inaction is dangerous, especially when the world is changing. If a significant portion of a whole generation becomes ambivalent to marriage, the damage may take many generations to repair. On the other hand, if we take advantage of the opportunity of marriage equality and usher in a new era of public conversation and enthusiasm about marriage, things won't change overnight, but over time they will, in the direction we want things to change. And whilst political issues often take a long time to resolve, ten years down the line it may already be too late to grasp this opportunity. Now is the time to support marriage equality, for anyone who is serious about the future of marriage and family values in society.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Answering Some Arguments Against Marriage Equality

1. Gay marriages destroy the purpose of procreation in marriage, and leads to the destruction of the ‘conjugal’ and ‘fruitful’ reasons for marriage.
If we are to be strict about this, any proven infertile couple should be excluded too. However, that would taint marriage as a harsh and exclusionary institution, and in an age where it has become an option rather than a necessity, would drive many away from it. In the eyes of many particularly younger people, excluding gay couples is just as cruel. Again, rigidity should not apply. We can still strongly stress that marriage is for procreation as a primary purpose, whilst still stressing that we need to be inclusive and compassionate otherwise, and therefore cannot use black-and-white rules to shut people out. This isn’t too hard to understand, is it?

2. Marriage is meant to be a complimentary institution.
This is a useful concept, but a really wishy-washy rule. Not all opposite sex couples are complimentary in their character, and certainly not all opposite sex couples are complimentary in a particular way that same sex couples cannot be, unless you are talking about the physical only.
If physical complementariness is what you're talking about, many infertile couples should be excluded too, as should couples were one member was born with certain 'intersex' medical conditions (e.g. Klinefelter's syndrome - look it up if you don't know what it is), as they are not strictly complementary either. The trouble is that, many men with Klinefelter's don't even know they have it! Again, complementariness is often the case, but we cannot be rigid here.
If spiritual complementariness is what you're talking about, many straight couples come together because of similarity rather than complementariness (think many geeky couples), or because they are complimentary in non-traditional ways (e.g. the alpha female and the omega male), and these have clear parallels in same sex couples too. Of course most people still live out traditional gender roles and always will. But society has already decided that non-traditional gender roles are OK too for the minority whose lives are like that - and as long as they are heterosexual they can legally marry too. Therefore, if those people are allowed to marry legally, why not same sex couples?

3. Gay Couples are Not the Same Thing as Straight Couples
This tends to not be very convincing for those who know gay couples well, again more commonly found in the younger generation. Therefore, this argument is often voiced and accepted by older opponents of equality. And for good reason too - for those who have observed and known gay couples, they will find that there isn't a clear line they can draw, except regarding physical body parts.
Different straight couples bond over different things or reasons, and their relationships are held together by very different central concepts. Technically, they can be divided into different categories too. In this sense maybe we can have the glamour-marriage, the religious-marriage, the Chinese-marriage, the Irish-marriage and so on. But we don't do that - marriage is a broad church and a society wide brand, and for a good reason. On the other hand, one straight couple's relationship may have more in common with a same sex couple's relationship than with another straight couple, other than the body parts. So it doesn't make sense to draw the line at the body parts thing, right?

4. It has Historically Been This Way
There was much confusion and ignorance around same sex attracted people in history. They were just not allowed to live openly as couples. Now that this is no longer the case, not only is denial of legal marriage ridiculous and arbitrary, it threatens to delegitimize marriage in an age where already it is seen as 'only a choice'. In fact, that some couples can be allowed to live openly in relationships but not to be married is entirely the creation of the ‘liberation’ of the 70s and 80s anyway. As conservatives, we should not just allow marriage equality, but we should encourage gay couples to get married, like society encouraged everyone living in a couple relationship to get married bak when family values were strong. Marriage equality presents a chance to re-assert pre-liberation culture.

5. The Family has been destroyed enough in the 20th century
This had nothing to do with gay people, and it was all due to ‘liberation ideology’, which marriage equality does not come from and is often diametrically opposed to. Many marriage equality supporters are opposed to ‘liberation ideology’ in almost every form. It is also inconceivable that marriage equality would lead to any change in most marriages, the way that no fault divorce changed the landscape for example. No fault divorce applied to every single marriage, whilst same sex marriages do not change a thing about any heterosexual marriage.
In fact, for marriage promotion to work and to have a strong case against liberation ideology, we need to show everyone that traditional values are to be aspired for, can be aspired to by everybody, and are not bigoted or apartheid-supporting. When there is a consensus about gay people not being able to change their sexual orientation, if marriage excludes gay people it will always be seen as bigoted and apartheid supporting by a large proportion of the younger population.

6. It Defeats the State’s Purpose of Benefiting Marriage
If we think of the purpose of marriage in society narrowly, the state also should not benefit any infertile and childless marriages. However, part of the way marriage works is by upholding marriage as a brand for the whole society, and that brand needs to be inclusive and non-bigoted to have the most appeal to potential supporters for it to work that way. The benefits of this will return to the majority of marriages – i.e. child bearing, fertile heterosexual marriages, by encouraging marriage and a strong marriage culture in the whole population. Hence same sex marriages still support the state’s purpose of benefitting marriage, although more indirectly. Moreover, further benefits can be seen in a general return to commitment and family values, reduction of STI and HIV rates in certain communities, etc.

7. It Imposes Its Acceptance on All Society
This is a myth. See the Canadian Civil Marriage Act 2005 and what it says, for example. When a law is written that way, to impose its acceptance on all society would require ANOTHER change in law, which may even be unconstitutional in most countries.
On the other hand, opponents of marriage equality are forcing THEIR version of marriage down the throats of everybody else, by having it enshrined in national law. It doesn't matter than theirs is the traditional version - it is no longer accepted as a consensus in most of the West either, and is thought of as offensive by many people in our society.
When there is a clear conflict between two visions of a shared thing (our laws), we should proceed to consider the most inclusive solution. As the equal definition of marriage also includes all heterosexual marriages, but the heterosexual definition excludes same sex marriages, society should opt for the more inclusive definition, which would satisfy to a degree everyone on both sides, as nobody's actual rights get compromised.
Reports about businesses being 'forced' to serve gay couples have not been due to marriage laws. In fact, many such reports have come from Australia, the UK and many other countries where marriage equality is not yet the law. It has to do with the anti-discrimination law in these countries, which often say that businesses must not serve gay people, and by extension gay couples, any differently to the way they serve straight people. Marriage does not appear to factor into this.