We're always pleased to receive feedback from our readers, and when they take the time and trouble to write at length, cogently and clearly as Karl Shah-Jenner did recently from Australia, we think it's only right to offer them a wider platform by posting their thoughts here whether we agree with them or not!
In your latest post you suggest keeping women from the front lines and I agree totally (actually, we were just quoting someone else, and haven't really made up our Grumpy mind about it yet. Still, whatever ... GOS)
I served in the RAN (the Australian Navy, not sure how much longer it will remain Royal since we still have our damned communists in power here) and when women were first inducted many voiced concerns, not for fear that women wouldn't be able to perform the tasks but that they would hinder the males. Should old Barry take a shot to the knee, odds were each man would continue to perform his duty as needed to keep the ship afloat but were a woman to take that shot it was feared (rightly) that we males would surely do anything we could to protect or aid her, placing the woman ahead of the ship. Not an unreasonable concern given the fact we were expected to treat all women with reverence.
Of course the Israeli (and American) investigations into females in combat roles showed clearly they were not just as good as man but often superior in combat situations. This bit concerns me too. When a male was asked to 'kill target A' they would frequently pause if the target was discovered to be a woman. Similarly they would baulk if a woman or a child were potentially in harms way. This proved not the case for female combatants who would happily gun down anything in the way to take down the target. Of course that's what we'd expect of Israelis and Americans anyway, but there's no need to make things worse. Merciless killing machines are not really that good for society.
And on to the marriage thing: I've had a good long think about this and found my initial opposition reversed and I would share this with you if I may. First thing is that I fail to see how religion really should be considered - after all, I and many other godless heathens have been permitted to marry, and some religious organizations - the Buddhists come to mind - do not consider marriage anything to do with their faith, viewing it as a state issue. The Muslims do whatever they like so we shan't bother with them.
Children and procreation shouldn't really come into it either as the standard has been set - myself and my far too lovely wife and myself have no ankle biters and we never shall. Many of our friends are in the same boat and seem happy enough. No one told us part of the deal was that we must reproduce, and no one from the guvermint has been pounding on my door demanding we disband for failure to deliver.
Now I know our local twit politicians have been hurling their hands in the air shrilly proclaiming that were gay marriage permitted, the floodgates would open to the foulest of practices - polygamy. I did some reading up on this and found to my surprise that across the world in virtually all societies polygamy was the norm prior to the Christian missionary invasions. Even early Christians got in on the act though it's hard to confirm this as they rewrote the Bible so often back then. Some Jews and Islamists still seem to follow the practice as do quite a few Asians, although the Asian adoption of All Things Western has seen dual marriages frowned upon. Interestingly they also banned teeth blackening - worth reading up on that. The clever fellows handled tooth decay a lot better than we did in the west - they eliminated it !
What got me thinking was an email I received from a friend who discovered she had more of a thing for girls than for us sweaty males, and shacked up with one. She wrote: "I can't tell you how much sleep I lose worrying about the fact that if I died today, our children could be split up, the possibility that my biological daughter could be given to my estranged extended family, rather than remain with her 'non-biological' mother - who has raised her. Both of our children's birth certificates only have the biological mother's name on it - and we had to petition for that as it was to have no father listed. Our kids already have TWO loving parents, but my name and my partner's name are not on both of our children'?s birth certificates.
Recently our youngest child (my 'non-biological') went to emergency at the children's hospital to get staples in her head after she fell over. The nurses and doctors themselves were lovely and treated us like all the other families there. As we were sitting in triage, we were instructed that only one of us was to speak to the administration about our daughter - despite the fact that we witnessed several families come and go, and all were allowed to take both parents up to the administration desk.
She continues ...
"All it comes down to is genetics. I was born female and so was the love of my life, which I have as much control over as you do the gender you were born. And for that reason we are legally seen as inferior. If I was born of colour or disabled for example, but a man, I would be able to marry my female partner. Is my love for my same-sex partner not the same as your love for your partner?"
In later discussions she explained her fear further. Had she for any reason taken ill or become indisposed and her child required parental intervention due to something at school - a medical emergency or some such - her 'partner' cannot be viewed as a parent. So, say their daughter is popped into hospital, mother number 2 will not be permitted to visit the child in those situations where some prissy nurse says 'sorry, only family are permitted'.
In this case they ARE the producers of progeny (unlike me and mine) yet they cannot be permitted to raise their children as they see fit, not under our laws. And I put myself in their shoes and thought about this - how would I feel if I were not granted access to my (mythical) child? I'd rip the place apart to get to them! She cannot. OK, one managed to have a child the normal way, the other took advantage of the benefits of medical science to achieve hers, but then I have seized the opportunities offered by medicine and received anti-venom when a sodding snake bit me - the alternative 'natural' way was to simply die. And my wife would have none of that. We take what we can.
And so I took the time to pen a contribution to the Powers That Be - it follows below. I hasten to add I am not an equalty nut job - I do not believe for one minute we are all equal, I opposed females in the military, and I agree with your observations - we have black-only places here, but heaven forbid anyone even think of a white-only place! But I do believe same-sex couples are being deprived because of a Christian doctrine that spread across the world, and it seems time to right the wrong.
Dear Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee,
This is my submission to your inquiry into marriage equality. I fully endorse the submission made by Australian Marriage Equality in favour of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.
I have over the years discovered quite a few of my friends are homosexual. Some of these people have gone to great lengths to disguise and hide this fact, and it has only been when they finally cracked and confessed their homosexuality that they have gone from being pretty miserable to leading a normal, happy and prosperous life. This is not to say all have been sad and lonely, but some have suffered greatly - and unfairly - for prejudice both perceived and real can make it unpleasant if not dangerous to be of an alternate sexual persuasion than the 'norm'.
We all know that hiding a lie can take an enormous toll on a person, and while sometimes shocked by discovering a persons sexuality differed from my own heterosexuality, I have been greatly heartened to see friends living happier, better lives.
It is completely natural to love people. It is completely understandable that two people who are in love would want to confirm their commitment to one another and to society at large. It follows that for heterosexuals the way to do this is to marry. Why should this bond not be extended to same-sex couples beyond tradition and any potential claim the church may have over marriage in general? The Church (Christian) does NOT own the concept of marriage, after all. Our laws permit non-religious people to marry. The Australian government recognises non-Australian marriages. It seems incongruous that a marital bond be accepted but only under certain conditions (that the couple be of differing sex).
To take a different tangent for a moment, what of intersexed people and their status in marriage - are they afforded the same union? To cite from the Wikipedia article on Intersexuality prevalence: 'According to the ISNA definition above, 1 percent of live births exhibit some degree of sexual ambiguity. Between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including surgery to disguise their sexual ambiguity. According to Fausto-Sterling's definition of intersex, on the other hand, 1.7 percent of human births are intersex. She writes "While male and female stand on the extreme ends of a biological continuum, there are many bodies ... that evidently mix together anatomical components conventionally attributed to both males and females. The implications of my argument for a sexual continuum are profound. If nature really offers us more than two sexes, then it follows that our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits ... modern surgical techniques help maintain the two-sex system. Today children who are born "either/or or neither/both" - a fairly common phenomenon - usually disappear from view because doctors "correct" them right away with surgery."'
In 2008 the Australian population was estimated at 21,500,000 - assuming the above is correct we can calculate there are roughly two hundred and fifteen thousand intersexed people in Australia.
An intersexed person is defined as having traits for both male and female - and could avoid proclusion from marriage on the semantic grounds that were a male to marry an intersexed person, they would be marrying a 'part' female. Likewise, a female marrying an intersexed individual would be marrying a 'part' male. But should the law be biased against homosexual marriage the offensive situation could occur that the male marrying the intersexed person could be denied on the grounds that the intersexed individual were 'part' male.
I should dearly hope that our society will never stoop so low as to disenfranchise or enshrine in law the bigoted and abhorrent discrimination of those with genetic differences, or if I were to be offensive, genetic malformations.
Furthermore, if we accept that most marriages transpire without medical intervention or examination (and I assume that to be the case!) then of the approximately 215,000 intersexed people, I can guess that a large number may be married at some point in their lives. Would these people be denied marriage to the one they love on the ground of an accident of birth?
If these people are not, and they may arguably be in what is effectively a same-sex marriage, why then would distinctly same-sex individuals be discriminated against and denied marriage?
Now if the reader chose to presume a mild level of ambiguity is inconsequential to this submission then I would point out the 0.1% statistic stating the ambiguity of the intersexed individual is so great as to warrant surgical intervention (from above) - this would mean some 21,500 Australian people could be defined as being either/or both male or female. To me this suggests a precedent has already been set regarding same-sex marriage. It already exists in Australia.
Can we PLEASE extend the acceptance of same-sex marriage and the formality that follows to identifiably same-sex couples?
Back to a more personal note. I want to say among those I count as my friends stand a number of homosexuals, many of whom are in long term, loving relationships. This leads me to think of my own long term marriage (approaching 20 years with my best friend, my wife). From time to time I contemplate as one may do, what life would be like without her, and I count each day with her as a blessing. When I put myself in the shoes of my homosexual friends in relationships I am brought to tears by the thought of what could be were we in their place. My own family could wrest control of the assets from my wife. She could be left with nothing. Cherished articles and memorabilia could fall out of her possession even though we gathered them together. We are childless, but I am horrified beyond words at what could be for those homosexual couples with children should one of them pass away.
Our society carries on about 'tolerance'. To be honest - I am fed up to the back teeth with tolerance. You know what I'd like to see? - consideration, courtesy and respect. If people were simply to respect those about them we'd have no need for tolerance! I would have no need to 'tolerate' the obese person standing in the doorway at a shopping center chatting endlessly with their obese friend making it impossible for anyone to pass in or out if they had some courtesy and exhibited some respect for those around them.
It seems that homosexuals are 'tolerated' by our society. It would go a long way to making Australia a better place were we to rightfully be considerate of them and grant them the access to marriage and the responsibilities and privileges that go to any differing sex couples who choose to state formally their commitment to one another under the union we know as marriage.
In summation I want to strongly stress the situation with intersexed persons as being a standing precedent for same sex marriages. I must also stress that religion has no authority over marriage, the precedent being set that non-believers can lawfully marry.
Dear reader, please consider the above fully and with an open heart. I love my friends dearly and hope that the Australian Government can see it's way to employ a degree of empathy in extending the right of marriage to same sex, homosexual couples as soon as possible.
There is no benefit to denying homosexuals access to marriage, nor is there a loss in granting them access to marriage. Please, grant equality to all Australians.
On reading further I've since discovered there are quite a few other situations where viewing gender as either/or is actually anomalous - chimeras, creatures which are formed by the amalgamation of two zygotes who may express separate parts of their bodies as separate entities - all marmosets are apparently chimeras, and Mr D.Bowie with his different coloured eyes is an example of the chimera see this Wikipedia article. This intersexuality may explain all those childless couples of yesteryear, kept in the dark by doctors who knew little or who chose not to explain to a given couple that try as they might they cannot have kids as they were not what they thought they were. Imagine the stigma had Myrtle suddenly discovered she was actually a Kevin!
Then there are those individuals who are not intersexed but nonetheless ambiguous - they look male, they have the functional dangly bits, everything about them screams MALE - yet on being genetically tested they turn out to be female! Same same for women. And so it comes down to what makes a male a male, or a female a female (or Uncle Arthur a flopsy)? It seems there's a sliding scale between what makes the two genders and a fair degree of confusion in the middle. And who's to say whether two nancies ARE nancies or if they're not actually opposite ends of the gender scale?
Myself I cannot comprehend being attracted to a male although I can understand female-female attraction better gosh, women are lovely!
The GOS says: I'm not at all sure Karl is right about the chimera, especially the bit about David Bowie.
In other respects, though, he makes a powerful argument in favour of gay marriage and I have to admit to being somewhat swayed.
If anyone wants to pitch in and give a counter-argument, get in touch. If it's publishable, I'll publish it (by which I mean that swearing and sarcasm are fine, but blind prejudice, unprovoked abuse, illogicality and rotten grammar are not!).
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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