Ruby View: The Queen and (LGBT)I? – a royal decree against discrimination

Queen-Elizabeth_1Following the signing of an official document by her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the Commonwealth officially stands against all discrimination.

The document formalises “core values of the organisation and the aspiration of its members.” That organisation is the Commonwealth, which Australia is a member of.

The Queen is set to sign the document later today in London.

The document will officially oppose “all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

While the wording is vague, “other grounds” undoubtedly includes sexuality. The LGBTIQ community has not been labelled by name in an effort to not cause conflict in Commonwealth countries in which strong anti-gay laws still exist. While the charter doesn’t identify the group specially, it could add weight to the gay equality rights movement occurring in Australia currently.

The charter is a great step forward in the fight against all discrimination, and will especially benefit the feminist movement for equal rights to pay. This is incredibly important considering that still as of last year the gender pay gap for graduates was at 9.1 per cent on average.

2013 is the time to embrace change, to embrace equal rights for all and it’s impressive that the Queen seems to be encouraging this despite the charter not specifying the LGBTIQ community directly.

Some politicians in the UK are not embracing the move: Conservative British MP David Davies said:

“My worry is that the politically correct brigade will use it to silence the legitimate debate about issues like gay marriage.”

But Mr Davies should and needs to realise, there is no legitimate debate around the issue except why is it taking so long?

The message to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard is clear: get with the program and get on board. Marriage is not something that should be restricted to just men and women, marriage is about love and all love should be able to experience a legally recognised marriage.Quentin%20Bryce

It’s up to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, as the Queen’s representative in Australia to encourage our Prime Minister to aspire to end discrimination and legalise gay marriage. But, will she? The dangers of the charter lies in the LGBTIQ community not being referenced directly, but in the fight against all forms of discrimination the charter is a move in the right direction.

And only time will tell, how those opposed to gay marriage will react to the move. My guess is we will see the republican movement swollen by haters.

2013 is the year marriage rights must be extended to all. If the Queen can handle it, why can’t Ms Gillard? Let’s hope the PM takes the hint, and moves with the times before times get ahead of her and the Royal Family begin referencing the LGBTIQ community directly.

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8 Comments

Filed under News Wraps, Ruby Views

8 responses to “Ruby View: The Queen and (LGBT)I? – a royal decree against discrimination

  1. Geoff

    mar·riage
       Show Spelled[mar-ij] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    a.
    the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
    marriage (ˈmærɪdʒ) — n 1. the state or relationship of being husband and wife 2. a. the legal union or contract made by a man and woman to live as husband and wife b. ( as modifier ): marriage licence ; marriage certificate 3. the religious or legal ceremony formalizing this union; wedding 4. a close or intimate union, relationship, etc: a marriage of ideas 5. (in certain card games, such as bezique, pinochle) the king and queen of the same suit
    Main Entry: mar·riage
    Pronunciation: ‘mar-ij
    Function: noun
    1 : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law —see also DIVORCE
    2 : the ceremony containing certain legal formalities by which a marriage relationship is created

    Now what you would like to do is change the meaning of the word. Change the meaning of a tradition accepted by humanity for millennia.

    Why? Because a minority of a minority think they need to be married. This isn’t about equality nor is it about love. Don’t be fooled. Loving someone does not confer the right to marry them upon you. Cricket is not Golf and Soccer is not Tennis equality does not hold sway in the argument it is a strawman recently invented and brought into the argument. Don’t be fooled.

    • Hi Geoff,

      Unless you have a new argument to bring to the table on this topic, we will no longer be publishing dictionary definition based comments on this issue. This is for a number of reasons, but mostly because the repetition of content is beginning to get a little tired and spammy.

      If I may rebut your comment above:

      Relying on dictionary definitions is not an argument, especially in a debate that seeks to redefine it. Even if we were to accept such a tactic, we would be working with a definition that is no longer applicable in 10 US states and 14 countries across the globe, and therefore one with is no longer universally correct in the Western context.

      That said, marriage equality (I use that term because this is about trans* and intersex people too) doesn’t seek to completely overhaul the (biased) definitions above, but rather only slightly alter “4. a close or intimate union, relationship” to include a legal recognition.

      (As demonstrated by #1 in this article and this swag of examples, language is a fluid concept and the meanings of words and phrases are often subject to change. It’s called ‘semantic change’, and is remarkably common.)

      You go on to state that the marriage equality movement is seeking to “change the meaning of a tradition accepted by humanity for millennia.” First of all, that’s a broad, sweeping word to use – “humanity”. Especially since this article alone cites two historical same-sex couples where marriage was deemed an appropriate term for their relationship(s). And yes, the examples go back millennia, to the Roman Empire, arguably one of the greatest ancient influencers on modern Western society. The acceptance of ‘Two-Spirit’ people in Native American culture is another example of historical same-sex marriage. Basically, it’s not as new a concept as some would have you believe. (That first link is a really well-researched and argued piece, especially in regards to the way marriage restrictions reflect wider discrimination in society based on sexual preference and race.)

      This piece from The Drum even goes on to argue that the Bible itself, in both the Old and New Testaments (remembering that it is more of a compilation of books from a range of scholars over hundreds of years rather than one solid title), allows for close same-sex relationships, to the point where the original texts use Hebrew terms and phrases tied to the institution of marriage to describe these relationships.

      You then go on to argue that this is purely a minority issue. It seems 64% of Australians disagree with you, as do a majority of Coalition voters, according to a Galaxy poll conducted last year. (For the record, that is well outside Galaxy’s margin of error.)

      To further analyse your statement, you argue that “a minority of a minority think they need to be married”. I don’t think that *need* is the right word, but if we were to look at data collected by the University of Queensland in regards to the LGBTI community and their feelings on whether they want it to be an option, every single graph demonstrates a majority of at least 51% wanting marriage as an option, with a clear majority in all graphs desiring either that or a Federal register (same thing, different name). That indicates that this is not an issue that only relates to “a minority of a minority”.

      Finally, you argue that this debate is not about equality, nor is it about love. What then are we left to base marriage upon? Property rights, just like the old days? The ability to breed? Even conservative leaders like NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell agree that permitting same-sex couples to marry is a good idea, arguing that the claim that same-sex marriage would damage the institution of marriage was “utterly ridiculous”. In fact, O’Farrell points out that it cements the conservative ideal of a strong family unit as the basic building block of society.

      The article I pointed to earlier about the history of same-sex marriage and social constructionist theory also points out that the right to marry is a mirror to the way our society views people. It was only in the 1960’s that inter-racial couples in the USA were allowed to marry under federal law. Doesn’t it seem like a remarkable coincidence that such changes were only made after the removal of wide-spread racial discrimination via the Civil Rights Movement? Isn’t it funny that it was only after African-American people were deemed to be equal human beings, in terms of things as simple as where they sat on the bus, that they were allowed to marry outside their race?

      If we were having this discussion 50 years ago using this line of thinking, it might have been about whether Indigenous people should be counted on the Census, or if women should be able to open bank accounts without their husband’s signature. The argument of “this is how we’ve done it for millennia” didn’t cut it then, and it doesn’t cut it now. We have no reason to cling to incarnations of institutions that are exclusionary or detrimental to minorities any more. On the contrary, we have an obligation to update them.

      Kind regards,

      Noni

      P.S. On a personal note, perhaps you might consider investing some time in writing your own blog. Feel free to leave links to relevant posts in the comments, and that way we can keep in touch and have these discussions on your turf, rather than bothering our readers with my impassioned responses. Also, that way you can cover topics that we have left untouched and format your posts for emphasis and sources. Definitely makes the writing process easier! – N

      • Jasper Meggs

        Thank you Noni for saying exactly what I would like to say to Geoff in such a well researched, well written and polite manner! Sadly I am becoming so annoyed with reading Geoff’s self proclaimed “unbiased” rhetoric, that I am unable to express my feelings on this matter in such a succinct way – thank you once again.

  2. Geoff

    Hi Noni…. didn’t you think this topic needed something to get the debate started?
    Pity different points of views are so difficult for you and your readers to accept.
    Oh and Noni it is the English definition of marriage. Hence my providing it, all several versions of it. You may wish to change that or society and what it accepts as a marriage but I hope that in Australia at least such decisions will not be left to a handful of politicians who may be seeking favour of a very few but noisy dissenters and have the courage to do the right thing and put it to the people in a plebiscite. then and only then can you claim a majority of any sort agrees with you.
    I note that such polls run in the US for example where more than 50% is always quoted and at times much more… that the numbers polled are usually below 1000 people hardly the 300,000,000 plus that live there.

    • Just a few things, and then I am putting this to bed:

      1. The “English definition of marriage” is as subject to semantic change as any other concept or phrase. If you are however arguing that it is the legal definition of marriage of England, allow me to point out that England is not a country; you’re talking about the United Kingdom, who are currently actively considering expanding their same-sex civil unions legislation to include the term “marriage” for same-sex couples, a proposal which is supported by the Conservative-led government.

      2. In Australia, legislative decisions are made by elected members of parliament. That’s how the Westminster system works. If you think that the process is inappropriate for this or any other matter, you shouldn’t be calling for a plebiscite, but rather a referendum.

      3. The sample size required for 95% certainty with a 5% margin of error (that means it can only be wrong 5% either way) for an Australian population of 23 million is just 664 respondents. (Here’s the calculator I used to get that result.) The Galaxy polling sample sizes are well within that criterion, meaning that according to their statistics, the number of Australians who are pro-marriage equality would be no lower than 59% based on their research. That is still a majority. (Why you’re raising the question of what Americans think is a mystery to me, considering we’re discussing the changing of the Australian legal definition.)

      Considering the soundness of the statistics (utilising the same margin of error that finds that the Coalition and Tony Abbott are ahead in the political polls), why should we spend a bucketload of taxpayers’ money on a plebiscite?

      4. I refuse to accept a different point of view with a significant lack of evidence or solid argument to back it up. There is no substance to your argument that marriage equality would be bad for Australia. You’re yet to provide a detrimental factor that stands up to scrutiny.

      On the other hand, the pros include equality in recognition of relationships for same-sex couples; increased consumer spending in industries such as hospitality, retail and entertainment, thanks to the increase in wedding ceremonies; more stable family units; centralisation of relationship registry at a Federal level; and a reduction of the perception of same-sex couples as “other”, potentially meaning greater acceptance in the community and reduced hate violence and bullying.

      5. No, the debate didn’t need starting. We’ve had this discussion time and time again across a number of posts, and we keep coming back to dictionary definitions that, as I noted, are subject to change purely by the nature of language; let alone the fact that it is being challenged in a legal context, where dictionaries have little to no power. Either find a new tactic, or let it be.

  3. Geoff

    But Noni, I’m not just talking about changing language and a definition am I? What I have pointed out is that language and history are relevant in this argument. The legality or legislation is based on that traditionally accepted definition that socially accepted definition. Just because you don’t accept it is no need for it to change. We are talking millennia. Not a new passing fad here.

    I doubt very much that the definition of Black would be changed to White.

    Just because you refuse to accept something is not a reason enough for me to change something. Not a reason for society to change something. For a change this big… for societal change… you better put it to the people and not just a few so-called elected representatives who never ran with it as part of their political campaign or platform.

    BTW referendums are binding changes with direct reference to the Constitution. “Australian national referendums are polls held to approve Parliament-proposed changes to the Australian Constitution.” Hence my call for a plebiscite. I’d think you wouldn’t want a referendum just in case you lost the vote.

    You can call it something else and still have so-called equality. You can not call it anything else and still have legal equality. These are facts.

    Why start a topic if you don’t want it discussed Noni. Your intolerance for dissent is hardly what I’d expect. Your need to shut down dissent incomprehensible.

    The issue isn’t about homophobia or human rights. It is about lifestyle, choice, tradition and in some cases (perhaps, the majority) of Religion.

    I know lots of people who are homosexual and guess what… they don’t want to get married. Most “gay” people do not seek marriage. So who are you supposedly representing? The choice to be “gay” automatically excludes one from MARRIAGE, that being the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, a commitment to monogamy, the initiation of the natural family unit.

    Face it choosing a “gay” lifestyle or relationship excludes one from having a family in the NATURAL context. IE a man and a woman, (husband and wife), having children. The tradition of marriage is based on this natural order. If I chose to be gay, I would accept this fact. No one is excluding anyone or trampling on anyone’s human rights. No more than a Vegan is prevented from eating meat… it is a choice, made by the individual. Choices have consequences. If I choose to play Cricket, I cannot then expect everyone to call it Football, just because I wish it.

    As long as same sex relationships are afforded the same legal rights as heterosexual relationships (and they do) then, lets all stop the pandering to a vocal minority who seek to change the language and the meaning of our words and get on with life.

    I’m hoping I don’t need to point out that it is not a proven scientific fact that one is born gay.

    • I can’t believe I have to do this again. Seriously.

      1. Yes, language and history is relevant in this argument; that is why I went to the trouble of sourcing two different articles (one academic, one plain media based) that proved that heterosexual marriage is not the only form of marriage to be found in history. I pointed out four different cultures, including one which is the basis of a lot of our legal frameworks and examples from the Bible, where marriage was a relevant term to use for the couples in question.

      However, as I continually reiterate, the whole point of this debate is to change language and the way we write the history that is yet to come. If we relied solely on previous societal behaviour patterns the following would be true: women would not have the vote; the Indigenous people of Australia would still be counted as ‘fauna’, not on the Census, and would only be able to get married with the permission of the state; obtaining a divorce would require an admission of fault; women would still be able to be raped by their husbands; the death penalty would still be in place in Australia; National Service conscription would still be in place in Australia; unwed mothers would have their children forcibly removed… It’s not a list of things to be proud of. Some of them lasted as ideas for millennia, no “new passing fad” here. That didn’t make them right.

      The past might inspire nostalgia, but that does not mean it is a nice place to live. I see no reason why we should extend this part of its reach any further into the future.

      2. I don’t think we’ll be changing the definition of “up” to “down” in this case either. Probably because it’s not even vaguely relevant to this topic of discussion.

      3. My argument re: the Constitution was in response to your call for a plebiscite, for two reasons: a) governments add policies and positions to their legislation in response to lobbying regularly – the NDIS and WorkChoices are both good examples of times that policies have been implemented that weren’t part of the platform put forward at the previous election. (Miranda may contradict me on the latter, but I’m pretty confident that’s the case) which meant that b) you were essentially arguing for a shift from the Westminster system of government which would require a referendum.

      Either way, it’s a technicality. Let’s move on.

      4. “You can call it something else and still have so-called equality. You can not call it anything else and still have legal equality.” Nope. You’re still categorising people based on their sexuality. PLUS that isn’t even on the cards from either side of the house.

      Even if I were to concede that having civil unions as a legally equal alternative to marriage was equality, it still reeks of “separate but equal”. Remember that? That was the term used in the US to justify racial segregation. When you put it into that context, you can see why it makes activists really angry when that is offered as a middle ground. The fact is that if I can’t have exactly the same legal framework as my same-sex friends when my relationship is recognised, it isn’t equal. It’s a start, sure. But it’s not a complete resolution.

      5. “Why start a topic if you don’t want it discussed Noni. Your intolerance for dissent is hardly what I’d expect. Your need to shut down dissent incomprehensible.”

      Shutting down dissent it completely different to rebutting arguments, and believe it or not, it is also completely different to just ignoring comments that are clogging up the system with the same arguments that have already been rebutted several times over. Like the anecdotal evidence you use that “I know lots of people who are homosexual and guess what… they don’t want to get married. Most “gay” people do not seek marriage” – not only is that one of the most blatant logical fallacies there is, I have already provided you with statistics that prove otherwise. Like the fact that when you’re running on empty, you turn to the idea that being gay is a choice – tip: it’s not; if it was, I’d have turned years ago.

      6. Or the good old appeal to nature, which even Rev Fred Nile seems to be flying in the face of, what with him preparing to marry a post-menopausal lady. (I wish them all the happiness in the world!) If we want to base marriage on the natural order of man/woman/having children, then we will have to refuse those couples who are too old to conceive, infertile, unable to give birth for medical reasons… And yet, we don’t.

      In fact, if you are transgender (for example, a male for all intents and purposes, but genetically female, with relevant genitalia), you can’t marry your partner of the same sex. BUT if you get a sex change (remember, still genetically the same sex, just changing genitalia), you can get married. That said, you won’t be able to conceive, but it’s still legally legitimate. Which makes me wonder: why are we so incredibly concerned with people’s private parts and not whether they are in a stable, loving relationship when we discuss this issue?*

      *My apologies to the trans* community for the over-simplification of the issue.

      7. Veganism. Really? Does that mean that as a meat-eater, I’m gay? Because even though I don’t *need* to eat meat or drink dairy, I’m so attracted to their flavour that I can’t help loving them? EVERYTHING MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW.

      8. The fact remains that LGBTI couples are not afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples. They can still be discriminated against by employers on religious grounds, and they are not allowed to have legally binding commitment ceremonies. At all the weddings they ever attend, they have to, by law, be reminded by the celebrant in charge that they are not allowed to have the same legally binding ceremony. Hell, you could have your entire wedding planned by someone who can never experience that expression of commitment to the partner of their choice. Don’t you think that’s a little unfair?

      9. “I’m hoping I don’t need to point out that it is not a proven scientific fact that one is born gay.”

      And I’m hoping I don’t need to point out that the concept of God is not a proven scientific fact either, yet somehow he gets a lot of say in this matter. Shame we can’t do the same for LGBTI folks it will actually affect, ain’t it?

      10. (Unpublished) “Censorship and fear of dissent is alive here I see, why did you delete my reply?”

      Your comment was never deleted. It was left unpublished. All comments go through an approval process. Some get through, some don’t. Censorship is required to avoid defamation cases with us named as the publisher, to remove spam and to allow us to compose ourselves so that we don’t write back in a flurry of anger and spite. But if it had been deleted, the reasons would be as follows:

      Because your arguments have all been rebutted, Geoff. All your anecdotal evidence, all your complaints about preserving history, all your claims that everything is just fine how it is and everyone is already equal.

      The ability to take a step back and acknowledge that the world is a little more complicated than you want to believe is hard, but doable. I’ve had to do it myself in terms of feminism, and my awareness of racism and trans* issues. Every day I’m challenging myself to change and be a better person to the people around me. You can call me a “bleeding heart” or a “leftie” or a “progressive”, even a “socialist” if you want, but I follow the first part of the Hippocratic Oath – “First, do no harm.” In my mind, there is no harm to be done by making this change, hence I give it my full support, and I suspect that is why an increasing number of Australians are choosing to do the same.

      PS. Again, I make the recommendation that you start your own blog. These long, drawn out discussions are taking up time and space on Cheaper Than Rubies, and I’m sure you would rather create your own space where your views can be expressed freely without our approval system.

      Kind regards,

      N

  4. Crofton Evans

    Owned: To be physically or mentally disgraced in a formidable fashion
    To be made a fool of; To make a fool of; To confound or prove wrong; embarrassing someone: Being embarrassed

    eg Geoff just got owned by Noni and doesn’t even know why!

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