CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Gay Rights and Wrongs

Jan 7, 2004

A Latham-led government would introduce sweeping changes to give homosexuals special rights and privileges, according to Robert McClelland, the former shadow attorney-general. The Labor pledge to radically overhaul existing laws and policies to give gays special benefits is part of a major homosexual push to get public recognition and approval of their lifestyle.

By talking about discrimination, civil rights and minority status, the impression is created that homosexuals lack basic human rights that others enjoy, and that they are a persecuted minority. There are several things wrong with regarding homosexuality as a civil right. For example, homosexuals enjoy the same protections under law of basic civil rights as does anyone else. Special rights should not be granted to a group solely based on what they do in the bedroom.

But more importantly, almost all societies and cultures throughout history have recognized the importance that the institutions of marriage and family offer to society. Especially in the raising, teaching and protection of children, families, preferably cemented by marriage, offer the most secure, stable and loving context for preparing the next generation for their role in society. Societies thus have a vested interest in promoting marriage and family. Indeed, societies have therefore granted special recognition to marriage and family. In this sense they have positively discriminated in favor of marriage and family. But such a discrimination is both desirable and healthy. In the same way that society “discriminates” against 8-year-olds by not granting them licenses to drive, so society “discriminates” against those who choose to remain outside of the institutions of marriage and the natural family. A homosexual relationship is just that, a relationship. It has never been, nor can it ever be, considered to be a family. Thus if a person wants the benefits and privileges of family life, then he or she needs to meet the criteria and responsibilities thereof.

But it is nonsense for a person to eschew male-female relationships in favor of same-sex ones, and then complain of discrimination. If I choose to lop off both my arms, and then demand that the West Coast Eagles hire me as a footballer, they have every reason to tell me to get lost.  (Even if I retain my arms, my age and my inability to throw a ball would disqualify me as well.)

Society is like that. It is full of distinctions, of differentiations. I may complain bitterly that I am not able to breastfeed, but that is life. Nature itself discriminates. The word discriminate simply means to differentiate, to distinguish. When I chose my wife over millions of other women, I discriminated. When a professional basketball team chooses a two and a half meter athlete over me, it is discriminating. When societies pass laws saying 7-year-olds cannot get a driver’s license, they are discriminating. When a nation says a 4-year-old does not have the right to vote, it is discriminating.

Thus it does no good for the homosexual lobby to forever complain about discrimination and inequality when such is the very fabric of living in a democracy. (Genuine unjust discrimination – e.g., racial discrimination – of course is another matter.)

Nor will it do for homosexual activists to argue that they are the objects of all kinds of economic and social discrimination based on their sexuality. A homosexual activist once made just this claim in a radio debate with me recently. He bewailed how as a taxpayer he was denied access to all kinds of government benefits because he was gay. He challenged me to name just one area where I was being discriminated against.

Unfortunately I was not given the right of reply. I could have produced a very long list. There are all kinds of benefits that I as a taxpayer also do not get. I do not receive the youth allowance. I do not get a single-parent benefit. I do not get a widow’s pension. I do not get maternal health benefits.

The point is, as a married heterosexual male, there are all sorts of benefits that I am not qualified for. Yet I am a tax payer like everyone else. I am just as much a victim of discrimination in this regard as is any one else. Yet I do not hear of male taxpayers saying they will withhold part of their tax because they do not directly get the benefits of breast cancer screening or gynecological services.

In sum, governments have an obligation to its citizens to promote what is best for the community, and best for its future generations. And there is a wealth of information to show that married heterosexual families, generally speaking, do provide the best environment for raising children and for maintaining the public good. Governments therefore should seek to further support heterosexual marriage and family, and not cave in to various noisy minority groups.

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