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What Will Happen If We Legalise Same Sex Marriage?

Nothing. Life will simply go on.
There will just be more affirmed love in the world, and less discrimination.
There will just be more affirmed love in the world, and less discrimination.

Politics can be a dirty game.

Or, as Groucho Marx once put it: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."

And nowhere does that principle apply more than the crazy position we now find ourselves in -- courtesy of our politicians -- when it comes to same sex marriage.


Right now on the issue of whether or not people who happen to be attracted to the same gender should have exactly the same rights as those attracted to the opposite gender, we have a solid majority of the Australian population firmly in favour, at 60 percent, while just 37 percent are against it.

We also have a majority of Federal parliamentarians in favour of it, with latest estimates saying that on a free vote it would pass through both houses of Parliament without a problem.

Confusing as he can be on the subject, we have a Prime Minister who believes in it. And an Opposition Leader behind it.

We have global momentum well and truly behind it, as advanced countries across the globe embrace it.

And yet?

Groucho called it right.

Despite all the will behind it here in Oz, we have a tiny minority of narky, but nevertheless influential, politicians, "looking for trouble, finding it everywhere". These MPs maintain that, despite the benign experience of every country that already has same sex marriage, if we embrace it, the very institution of marriage will be weakened; the next step will be people marrying animals or having multiple partners, and somehow, children will be hurt. And who knows, maybe even the sky will fall in.

They are diagnosing it incorrectly, often citing religious reasons as to why we can't make the change when the history of marriage clearly shows that it is and always has been a civil institution, not a religious one, with all of its force coming from legal powers, not a higher one.

And, of course, they are applying the wrong remedies, with the government still insisting the solution to this imbroglio is to hold a "non-binding plebiscite" -- a taste-test of the population to see, at a cost of around $200 million, whether they can confirm what dozens of polls have already shown in the past few years: that the people want this.

And if they can confirm it, they'll... look at it. Nothing more. They still make no commitment to do what could be done by next week if they simply passed the legislation in parliament -- an act which would be nothing more than removing obvious discrimination from our system of law.

Read it and weep, Groucho.

If I have a particular frustration with the whole issue right now it's probably because I have just returned from a wonderful week in the country that first passed same sex marriage legislation 15 years ago and seen up close what a total non-issue the whole thing is.

For, yes, the Netherlands did lead the way, to wild acclaim, back in 2001.

And you know what happened there afterwards?


Life went on. No-one made claims to marry their sister. Or three other people. Or their dogs. Public morality did not go to hell in a hand-cart. Dutch clergy were not persecuted. (In fact, they were in the vanguard of the change.) To this day, heterosexual marriage remains strong, same sex marriage has become ever stronger, and Dutch children are prospering across the board.

Life... simply... went on.

And what about all those other countries that followed Holland's model? What happened in Ireland, and Great Britain, most of continental Europe, most of the Americas, New Zealand, Canada and all the rest?



There was just more affirmed love in the world, and less discrimination. More souls were connected, more individuals making lives together, bringing up children in loving, more stable environments, without prejudice barking at the door.

So what on earth is the issue?

Come on, Prime Minister, you know what you have to do.

Support for a plebiscite is now down from 70 percent at the start of the year to just 39 percent -- and for a very good reason. More and more people realise it is a huge waste of time, effort and money when parliament can just do the job itself.

Sure, there are those in the most conservative ranks of the government who argue they have a mandate for a plebiscite. They stoutly maintain Mr Turnbull took it to the people at the last election.

Really? A meagre, just-over-the-line, almost-didn't-get-there win by a slim, one-seat majority on a subject that sat way down on the list of issues to decide the election does not a mandate make.

Come on, PM, let's just get this done. Quickly, cleanly, without fuss. You know you want to.

And more and more people get this.

"A child of five would understand this," Groucho also famously once said. "Send someone to fetch a child of five."

Preferably from a gay union. They are the true exemplars of how far we have come, and how we have absolutely nothing to fear.

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