TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

A Liberal and Truly Intersectional Feminism, no GLIF

Only Liberal Feminism is Truly Intersectional Feminism. Learn more here.
Both the Ideas Lab and The TaraElla Show aim to advance liberal intersectional feminism.
To learn more about how other 'intersectional' feminists are doing it wrong, read The Disappointment of G.L.I.F.

More Music
More new work will be added to the catalog of TaraElla's Music.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

10 Years of Marriage Equality Support Series: Marriage Equality Is Just That

Maybe it is the fact that many marriage equality campaigns focus on the 'love=marriage' aspect, but there is considerable confusion over just what is marriage equality, and we need to address that. It is PURELY about equal opportunity that we have to address this problem. As a society we uphold equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Everyone should have an equal opportunity before the law, but not everyone will get the same outcome and it's okay. Some people choose not to marry or cannot find the right partner, but that's okay - they have/had the opportunity to just like everyone else. Now we know that gay and lesbian people really cannot form a proper intimate relationship with the opposite sex, the basic requirement for a marriage not just on paper but in the spirit of the institution. Hence heterosexual only marriage laws effectively deny them any opportunity to enter the institution. That is inequality in opportunity. The fact that some heterosexual people who have had the equal opportunity still don't get married is besides the point. (And the fact that one of them is the Prime Minister of Australia and she is in love with a man is also besides the point.) It's really about equal opportunity rather than 'love'.

Now I want to address some people's weird idea that marriage equality is not 'equality' yet, or that it just serves as a slippery slope towards the destruction of marriage. Both views are two sides of the same coin in fact, and probably arise from the wrong belief that supporting marriage equality means that everyone in love should be able to get married. And I will address them in one go.

"But someone may want to marry their dog" - Civil marriage is part of the secular legal system. As the legal system is set up to deal with interactions between people, not other animals, it cannot and will not deal with anything like this. Animals are not legal persons and cannot enter into contracts for example. Hence nobody can marry their dog anymore than they can sign a contract with their dog or make a will in favour of their dog. Not now, not in 5000 years.

"But someone may want to marry their cousin" - Nobody is wired to be exclusively attracted to their cousin. Heterosexual men who want to marry their cousins for example are also attracted to other women, with whom they can have an intimate relationship with, with whom they can get married to and live a proper married life. They are not excluded from marriage simply because they cannot choose to marry their cousin, unlike gay and lesbian people, who are excluded from marriage because they cannot have an intimate relationship with the opposite sex. Furthermore, the ban on marrying your cousin should apply equally to heterosexual and homosexual people, in a further show of equality.

"But someone may want to marry three partners" - Marriage in the modern secular Western legal system can only accommodate two people. Otherwise there will be real inequality. For example, a monogamous married couple can get tax breaks applied to the 2 people concerned. If polygamous marriage were recognised, some people will get the same tax breaks applied to 3 or more people, which is clearly an unfair situation under our modern secular standards. Some religious states allow polygamous marriage and can make it work because the concept of fairness in their legal system is based on religious doctrines. But in a secular Western state this can never happen. Hence marriage equality REQUIRES the rejection of legally recognised polygamous 'marriages'. (In fact I think this should be a point actually made as part of citizenship education for new citizens so that they will not think it is ever possible for our laws to be amended to accommodate polygamous marriages.)
Polygamy, or polyamory as some modern Western practitioners of this idea like to call it, is also fundamentally a choice, unlike sexual orientation. I know of many married men who would otherwise like multiple sexual partners too, but chose the path of marital monogamy because they believe such an arrangement to be best for their family, and that family welfare should come before any personal sexual needs. I happen to completely agree with them here, and this I think is the spirit of marriage. Hence choosing 'polyamory' is clearly equivalent to rejecting marriage itself, and marriage will never be redefined to include something so opposite to what it is, like the definition of black cannot include white. The men that choose marriage despite their sexual appetite are also as a result able to fulfil the spirit of marriage, as whilst they would like more sexual partners, they can be properly intimate still when there is only one partner, as clearly everyone who can be intimate with more than one person can also be intimate with just one person, although it may not fulfil their sexual appetites adequately - but fulfilling sexual appetites is not what marriage is for anyway. Gay and lesbian people are also able to fulfil the spirit of marriage if they choose to, except the law is excluding them. They have not rejected marriage, the law has rejected them. As it currently stands, they can either have a proper intimate relationship with someone of the same sex but cannot enter marriage, or they can on paper 'marry' someone of the opposite sex but can never fulfil the spirit of the institution.

"Everyone is equal - to marry the opposite sex" - Let me make an analogy here. Imagine if an office job stated that you need to be over 5'9" to apply. There are no sex or racial requirements. Yet such an advertisement would likely be illegal, as the requirement to be 5'9" excludes most women, and also most men of certain races. Under Australian law, for example, this is called 'indirect discrimination'.

"Some heterosexual people cannot find the right partner either and never get married" - Let me make another analogy here. Imagine a job requiring a person be white and also have a master's degree. There are many white people without a master's degree and hence cannot apply, just like the black man with a master's degree. However, this would still constitute racial discrimination, and is clearly unacceptable. This is what 'equal opportunity' is all about.

As you can see, 1) marriage inequality is a REAL issue not a theoretical one dreamed up by activists and 2) to make things equal it ONLY requires the inclusion of same sex couples. It will NEVER require or encourage another agenda, not now, not ever. In fact, even interracial marriage was a separate issue - there was no 'inequality' there, just that it was inhumane and racist. Separate issues are argued on their separate merits, just like interracial marriage was won and marriage equality is being won right now. If somebody else wants to further change the definition of marriage, it will be up to them to argue their merits, and for the cases I listed above, they will clearly fail.
Sound changes to institutions based on good reasons will never automatically lead to unsound changes. After all, women have been able to vote for almost 100 years now, are children and animals also entitled to vote? The interracial marriage movement, whilst changing marriage law, NEVER led to the opening of the gates for polygamous marriage for example, because they are separate issues. The marriage equality movement also will NOT open the gates for them to come in and ride on our backs, not now, not ever.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Family, Instead of Anonymous Donors

There has been some recent discussions on gay parenting in multiple places. Whilst I probably shouldn't offer much advice, being not yet a parent myself, here are some of my thoughts.

Non-homophobic people are the majority in many Western countries nowadays, as evidenced by majority support for marriage equality in Europe, the UK, Australia and Canada. However, it seems that some clearly non-homophobic people have a problem with gay parenting - not that the parents would make the children gay, but that they may be denying biological reality. I believe this needs to be addressed. And please do not think it is a gay only problem - straight couples with fertility issues should not be left off the hook here either to create a double standard.

To do that, I think we should start by having a culture of acknowledging a child's genetic parents even if they are not the daily carers of the child. We need to, as a society, ensure that all children know their genetic parents, can call them mother or father as appropriate, and maintain substantial lifelong links with them. I understand that many people with fertility problems use anonymous sperm donors all the time, and I am accepting of that fact, but I believe that the model I have proposed is way better, for both straight and gay couples with fertility issues.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Same Love: Biggest Political Song of Our Generation?

Hip-hop artist Macklemore released a song last year to support efforts to legalise marriage equality in Washington state last year, titled Same Love. The song didn't do too well on the charts then, but marriage equality still went through in Washington, so all was still good.

This year, however, the song has marched to the top of the charts - in Australia! Now it has stayed there for a month. Australia is a special case regarding marriage equality: only the federal government can change the laws, and there is a hung parliament which means that neither side is willing to move right now. The ultra-conservative opposition leader isn't helping either. However, a clear majority of the population now support marriage equality, even in relatively conservative suburbs. This has led to widespread frustration amongst the social justice orientated types in Australia - which is probably why this hit is so popular.

The next questions are, obviously when will the Australian parliament get its act together, but also will this track become a global hit?

Anyway, here it is:

Friday, February 15, 2013

10 Years of Marriage Equality Support Series: "I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative"

"I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative." As British PM David Cameron stated his position on the matter to his party conference some months ago, these words will surely become part of our history.

There are plenty of things I don't agree with Cameron on. For example, I celebrate multiculturalism. I am all for a strong social welfare system. I guess I am just a liberal who cares for social justice when it comes to economic matters. But I have to admit on social matters, I am generally quite conservative. Granted I usually come on the libertarian side on social matters, but my personal preference remains conservative.

A long time ago I used to be, well, homophobic. Why? Like all those idiots out there, I thought that gay people were hedonistic, often prosmiscuous, with no semblance of family values. Still, in the interest of upholding my libertarian values I principally supported marriage equality. But regarding my 'understanding' of gay people, how wrong was I?

Gay couples are as able to commit and form families as straight couples, and that's what matters. That's why they want, and need, marriage equality. Granted there are other ways to recognise and encourage commitment, as I have said before, but equal treatment shouldn't be denied to ANY couple willing to commit for life, and thus contribute to our basic social fabric.

No fault divorce, 'social' abortions, polyamorous 'couples', sexualised popular music etc. are all things that I have concluded I must tolerate out of my libertarian principles, but continue to make my conservative heart cringe. Same-sex marriages, however, are a different thing. They are something to cherish, something to celebrate. Something that, as many of our generation would like to say, I truly 150% support.

What we need now is more fellow social conservatives to come out, saying the same thing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10 Years of Marriage Equality Support Series: People Against Gay Equality, Don't Fear Marriage Equality

It is understandable that those people who are against gay equality are against marriage equality. However, that is stupid.

Marriage equality has been said to 'fracture' gay communities. I believe some degree of this will happen. The gay identity will never be the same again, meanwhile, marriage will always be almost overwhelmingly (97%+) straight. Since majority rules, and 2% of people don't usually get a say in defining any culture, marriage will be culturally constructed in a straight way as it always has been. Gay couples living under marriage will be a like a racial minority living in a country that doesn't even want to speak of multiculturalism. There will never be any special accommodation for gay couples even when they actually need it, because identical treatment is all a minority can usually demand - and sometimes they even get inferior treatment (e.g. some places where gay marriage is legal gay IVF is banned). Meanwhile, those gay couples not living under marriage will be seen as unstable. This is because they will have no other legally and socially recognised bond to resort to. They will likely become a voiceless underclass.

I personally support marriage equality for various reasons, but I do not think it will bring 'gay equality'. Marriage equality will come at a price, but it is a price to the gay community, and I think they accept it, so I am happy to support marriage equality. For the straight community, marriage has always, and will always, be theirs either way, because of demographics. They have nothing to fear.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

10 Years of Marriage Equality Support Series: Understanding the Implications

Ten years ago, I could not say I was totally on board with gay equality as much as I can say that now. However, this year (March specifically) marks the 10th anniversary of me actively supporting marriage equality (then simply called same-sex marriage rights). My initial support of marriage equality came from a perspective of social libertarianism, inspired by the implications of the post-911 policies of conservative administration. At that time I was angered by the decision of Blair and Howard to enter the war on Iraq, even though a clear majority of their nations simply do not agree. 'Not in my name, not with my taxes' was a standard protest slogan.

Ten years later, marriage equality has long become a number one priority for me at the ballot box and elsewhere. At this time I am now angered by politicians including some here in Australia to block equality, even though a clear majority of their nations simply do not agree. 'Not in my name, not with my taxes' seems to apply equally well now.

A constant theme that we see is that we should not give too much power to governments on social matters. To let them regulate what society should and should not do, what values our nations should have etc. is simply dangerous.

The Bottomline of Freedom

I wholly support the bottomline of freedom. That is, freedom to individuals should be maximised when democratically allowed, at least. What it means is that, in the absence of a clear majority of people opposing a particular freedom strongly, it should be allowed by governments.

For example, I guess most in society would agree that there should not be a freedom to steal, bribe officials, be cruel to animals or vandalise public property. There is also a victim generated by each of these crimes. Therefore, these are rightly restricted by government.

However, marriage between people of the same sex, the terminally ill choosing to end their own life, chronic pain patients smoking marijuana and women choosing to have abortions for various reasons are not clearly and strongly opposed by a majority in many Western countries. It is certainly not the case here in Australia, for example. All these acts also have something else in common - they produce no victim. Therefore, freedom to do the aforementioned acts should be upheld by the government.

I personally have a moral opposition to abortion for social reasons, and I am as anti-drug as they come, culturally speaking. I am very uncomfortable with either topic, to be honest. But when it comes to liberty, I stand solidly with those who deserve it - even when other people who live a similar lifestyle as I do consider that I am betraying them somehow. Liberty is more important anyway.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Standing Up for the New Silent Majority

The silent majority once used to describe the conservative majority of people who did not like socially progressive politicians who changed things around too much. Not anymore. Nowadays, it is more common for politicians to be beholden to conservative elements to be ruling a populace more progressive than they are. It is not uncommon for these politicians to disregard public opinion altogether in their actions, making a mockery of democracy.

For example, here in Australia some polls have shown that marriage equality and legal euthanasia are supported by more than 80% of the population, yet politicians, especially those with clear ties to the church, are not budging. The Australian electoral system means that there is no possibility of getting rid of the majority of them from parliament either. So much for democracy.

This pattern is also common across the rest of the Western world nowadays. What we need to do is for the silent majority to stop being apolitical, and stand up against oppression. Now.