Monday, September 30, 2013

A Child Needs a Mother and a Father, but not Sexism and Homophobia

Let me now address one important argument of those who are against gay family rights.

I think, speaking generally, it could be agreed that a child NEEDS a mother and a father. After all, most children have as their biological and legal parents a mother and a father. In those cases, the ideal thing is to have the child brought up by both of them. It would definitely not be a good scenario if there is, for example, a divorce of the parents and only one parent gains sole custody. That is why I am a staunch proponent of shared custody, and also creating restrictive terms for ending couple relationships.

However, there are problems like infertility out there, and society's compassionate response is that infertile couples shall be able to create children using donor material. In that case, the infertile couple will be the parents. Some may say that this idea puts adult desires before child welfare, but children grow up to be adults too, and it is not good for child welfare for a society to be rigid and uncompassionate. After all, nobody can dispute that children who come to the world in this way generally do no worse than other children. This is a good arrangement, it's not perfect but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.

Now there's another type of infertile couple out there being discussed - gay and lesbian couples. If we uphold the idea of equality, and accept that their infertility, caused by their sexual orientation, is an inborn thing rather than a lifestyle choice (which most of us do), then they too should be treated the same way as straight infertile couples.

Now here is where some people take the 'a child needs a mother and a father' idea in the wrong direction. They argue that a child always needs male and female parents, even when they are not their biological parents. So such equal treatment of gay couples should not occur. Now this is not only a strange way to think, as unsubstantiated ideas should never be used to justify unequal treatment, it is also downright sexist. People are not their sex or gender. There are as many types of males as there are females, and I can guarantee you that the average geek girl is more similar to the average geek guy than the average girly party girl. I do acknowledge that gender stereotypes as often generally true, but they are only true on average. But even biological parents are not always the typical male and the typical female, yet everybody just accepts this as part of nature's diversity. Nor would anybody seriously say that only infertile couples who are the typical male and the typical female should get assisted reproduction - that would be incredibly sexist. Having different rules just because the couple's gender is different is both sexist and homophobic.

It is true, for 97%+ of cases, that 'a child needs a mother and a father'. After all, a child needs two parents and is best served by being raised by their biological parents. However, rigid application of this idea is stupid, and unfortunately is often a front for bigotry.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This is What Hate Causes

You know, sometimes I am accused of being too staunchly critical of people who promote racism, homophobia or hate in general. Some people are just slow to evolve, you should respect your opponents, things like that have been said to me many times. But it is out of a hope that hate will be eradicated that I am being so stern towards haters. So I will continue doing it.

And if you are still not convinced about my approach, you can take a look at what hate can actually cause:


And finally, to haters: you can hide behind all the religion you want to, but to me you are still no more than a hater. Religious people who don't hate, well, don't hate, and I believe all haters hiding behind religion are no more than pretenders. And no, I am not taking that back, ever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Will Never Support Any Church Same Sex Marriage Campaign

Recently I was giving a speech on the topic of marriage equality again. I was asked a question about churches and same sex marriages. What if one day there is a campaign urging churches to perform same sex marriages?

Firstly, I will be staunchly opposing any action via politics or courts to force churches to perform same sex marriages. I will not just be taking a neutral stance, I will be opposing that action. I am surely many fellow supporters of marriage equality in the law would also stand with me on this issue. Any attempt at interfering with religion via politics, government or courts is an affront to religious freedom and the separation of church and state, and will never, ever be something I can morally support. Not now, not in 100 years time.

How about a campaign by church members themselves that doesn't involve the government or the law? I would stay out of that, as being not a member of any particular church I don't think I should have a say on that at all. The church members should solve it themselves, applying their own reasoning of religion. The only thing I would say about such a campaign is that the outside world should, as part of their respect for the freedom and dignity of religion, stay out of the conversation too if they are not a member of the said church. I will again staunchly oppose any attempt to influence church definitions of marriage from the outside world by cultural pressure.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Revisiting Citizen Initiated Referenda

Citizen initiated referenda to enable people to make laws or even alter the constitution even when the government would not act. They are often supported by libertarians. A group would have to first gather enough signatures, upon which they can demand a referendum.

I myself have had reservations about them due to civil rights concerns. For example, people can and probably will demand a referendum for capital punishment in many European countries, Canada and the US states without capital punishment, and their odds of winning it are almost 100% in many cases. In libertarian thought, rights should trump even democratic mandate, as is necessary to prevent tyranny of the majority.

However, a system without citizen initiated referenda can actually be bad for civil rights. Recently I had a look at a map of global acceptability of gay relationships, and it appears that whilst the likes of the UK and France are moving towards marriage equality, at least 3 countries with a lower level of homophobia (Germany, Finland and Australia) still do not have marriage equality. The parliament in these countries appear to be made up of people more conservative than the general public on this issue. The situation seems to be the most ridiculous in Germany, with 89% support for gay relationships, yet the government only recently treated them equally in the financial sense. If Germany, Finland or Australia had citizen initiated referenda marriage equality would almost certainly be law in these countries.

I propose a solution - that Citizen initiated referenda only be allowed when they are consistent with human rights. That means that every petition for referendum must be submitted to the court for ruling, and a referendum will only be granted when ruled by a court to be compatible with civil rights. I think this strikes a balance, and will provide the best outcome for civil rights in any situation.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Committed Gay Couples Who Don't Prefer Marriage Should Be Respected. They Also Don't Defeat the Need for Marriage Equality.

Believe it or not, there are gay couples out there who actually believe that marriage is 'too straight' for them, and they don't wish to take part in it. Now the anti-equality people have snatched this up as a vindication of their belief that marriage is heterosexual only. In turn, some sections of the equality community have questioned the motives of those gay couples who don't want marriage.

Actually, those gay couples who believe that marriage is 'too straight' are not only free to do so, they have a point too. Marriage will always be 98% straight even with marriage equality, and changing from 100% to 98% doesn't change anything really. Marriage will stay a straight culture based institution. If they want a gay culture based institution they can have their own.

But how about forcing all gay couples away from marriage? Just because it's straight culture based, doesn't mean it should exclude gay people. Society operates at its best whenever its institutions try to accommodate minorities' aspirations too. Our popular culture is mainly made by and for straight people, but does not exclude gay people. Likewise, to exclude Asian people from a festival of European culture because they may taint it with their Asianness is a very racist idea. They are welcome to participate as long as they respect that it is a festival of European culture, not Asian culture. They would not be forced to join the Asian culture festival instead. Moreover, marriage itself already inherently has that flexibility and compassionate accommodation - marriage has historically often been about procreation, but infertile couples are not excluded, for example.

Some gay people like to have a culture of their own, but most gay people from my observations tend to want to join mainstream society, and would fully respect the predominantly heterosexual character of it, as long as they are also allowed to join. Heterosexual society should accommodate them, therefore, just like most gay bars and gay parades also welcome straight people.

The other issue is that marriage, as an unfortunate consequence of developments during Western history, is written into the law, so marriage discrimination is legal discrimination.

Therefore, even if some gay couples want a gay culture based institution for commitment rather than marriage, that doesn't defeat the need for marriage equality.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I am a Proud 'Liberaltarian': Libertarian and Social Democrat Fusion

When you read that headline, did it confuse you? In much of the West, libertarians are thought of as right wingers resolutely opposed to any government wealth redistribution, and social democrats are very much pro-welfare.

I did start my adult life as a complete libertarian. I still do believe that freedom is the best, and a free competition is the best way to get great outcomes. But, even with my limited education in economics, I do know of something called market failure. Even traditional libertarians know that a country cannot survive without an army, a police force and some sort of government, and none of it is provided by the free market. But traditional libertarians have overlooked other forms of market failure - for example, loss of freedom for the disadvantaged due to market forces, media empires determined to force a particular outcome on a democratic election (see Australian election 2013 for example), and loss of freedom for people of minority ethnic groups and LGBT citizens due to hate crimes and lack of anti-discrimination legislation. I believe it is the government's responsibility to address these too, in a truly free nation. Since many of these things do cost money to implement, an obsession with small government must give way to the idea of having enough government to maintain freedom for everyone. Hence, economically, I would have to be centre-left, or social democratic.

Of course, many things about libertarianism remain valid even in this 'expanded' view of freedom and what a libertarian government should do. For example, I support the following positions which are shared by many if not most libertarians:

Citizen initiated referenda to enable people to make laws even when the government would not act (only when ruled by a court to be compatible with civil rights - every petition for referendum must be submitted to the court for ruling)
Marriage privatization - and I have a long term plan for that, rather than just talk
Opposition to 'affirmative action'
Opposition to 'antitrust laws' and other competition laws
Opposition to compulsory military service
Opposition to military expansion beyond the need of self defence
Opposition to military action not directly related to national defence
Opposition to environmental regulations and taxes not clearly supported by democratic mandate
Recall elections to ensure governments cannot act outside of democratic mandate
Removal of victimless 'crimes', including legalization of marijuana
Regular judicial review to remove all unenforceable legislation
Remove of all protectionism in international trade
End all middle class welfare, corporate subsidies and farm subsidies
Support for strong civil liberties guarantees against populism or 'security based excuses'
Support for states rights and opposition to centralism in federations like the US and Australia
Support for the government maintaining a morally neutral stance in matters including abortion, feminism, lifestyle choices, competing visions of family values, the climate change debate, etc.

I also happen to believe that once we have a strong social safety net, we can more effectively embrace the free market. Currently, deregulation has often had to be compromised, when there are potential devastating effects on people's livelihoods. A strong social safety net would mean deregulation can occur without this compromise.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Moving to Marriage Privatization - First Steps

Whenever one examines the issue of marriage privatization, there are indeed a lot of practical problems associated with its implementation. What we need to do to prepare for the day when we are ready for marriage privatization is to prepare the legal infrastructure for it. And it is going to take some time.

One popular argument opposing marriage privatization is that governments would have no way to distribute couple benefits and divide assets and settle custody issues in divorce when marriage is no longer set in law. Some even said that there would be difficulty applying domestic violence laws. But this does not have to be the case, and certainly is not the case everywhere.

Analyses pointing out the above problem usually come from a purely US perspective. In the US, politicians have had an unhealthy obsession with marriage as enshrined in law for decades. But in Australia, for example, as I understand all the above is applied equally to married couples, couples in civil unions or registered relationships, and cohabiting de-facto couples who have been together for more than 2-3 years. The system in Australia has been functioning like that for a long time and it hasn't collapsed - there is no reason why the US cannot follow suit.

Another thing we can do is to review the benefits given to married couples and decide whether to tailor them to needs so they can be more justifiable rather than sentimentally attached to legal marriage. For example, I firmly believe that tax breaks for married couples should only apply to those couples who have children under 21. It should cease to apply to childless couples or couples who only have adult children, because they do not need such a benefit, and it would be unjustifiable to provide it to them without providing the same to any two single people who wanted to share in it.

Whilst we are trying amend marriage legislation around the world in pursuit of marriage equality, the wording of the legislation can also be considered. Canada has put it best in my opinion. The Civil Marriage Act of 2005 states that 'marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others'. Notice it says 'for civil purposes' - three words I believe should be in the marriage acts of every country.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

An Olive Branch to Marriage Equality Opponents

Whilst I passionately fight for marriage equality because I believe in civil rights and equality under the law in every area, I really cannot be honest if I said my opponents are all homophobic bigots. There are indeed plenty of people who have a problem with 'marriage equality' but who otherwise would be decent towards gay couples.

The thing we should recognise is this - the whole struggle is based on a historical wrong. Power hungry governments assumed control of marriage in Europe, which then spread all around the world. The law should not have a definition of marriage at all - it did OK without one for many centuries. I totally respect that people can have different views on the definition of an institution, but now that it has come to this, those of us that demand civil rights equality must fight for our position. It's a fight that we should not need to have had, but circumstances made it necessary. So if anything, we should not blame the opponents, we should blame history.

I guess the Canadian Civil Marriage Act has the best answer. Whilst it legislated for marriage equality, it also states this: "For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom." This, I believe, should be in every marriage act across the world, along with equal marriage rights.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Australians, Please Save Our Best Prime Minister Ever!

Kevin Rudd, current Australian Prime Minister, is facing a tough election tomorrow. He has a great record but the circus they call the media here is trying to get him out of office, by spreading unfound fear about our economy, an economy that he was responsible for saving from the Global Financial Crisis.

He has got to be one of the most courageous Prime Ministers in our history:


Meanwhile, his opponent Tony Abbott is quite elusive on this and other matters.

And it's not just marriage equality. Consider the following: it would be a shame if Australia missed out on ANY of these things, don't you think?



Meanwhile, the media are desperate to destroy the best PM we ever had, likely because its interests lie elsewhere:


Just something to make your blood boil, isn't it?

Final words: If you are Australian, please consider your vote carefully. If you are not Australian, then it may help to raise what I just said with an Australian you might know. Australia just cannot afford to lose a great PM like Kevin Rudd.

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'm Not Going to Fight For Marriage Privatization Anytime Soon

In response to my latest article about marriage privatization, there were plenty of responses along the lines of 'why don't you start a movement for marriage privatization'?

I mean, I do support marriage privatization, and it addresses problems that marriage equality cannot. For example, nobody will need to beg a rogue government to recognise their relationships anymore, the new civil unions system can not only provide for married couples all the needs they have now but can also be extended to for example two widows living together, etc.

But as I mentioned in the last post, the current legal infrastructure makes it impractical to achieve right now. Plus creating any further distraction from the last civil rights movement in history, marriage equality, is not morally sound, in my opinion. Especially to highlight a cause that just cannot be achieved in the next 20 years anyway.

Instead, I will be focusing on bringing the benefits of marriage privatization to society, whilst keeping the issue alive for those who are interested. For example, my Make Your Marriage Count movement aims to do just that, in an apolitical-person-friendly format.