An agenda for the soft despotism of same-sex marriage

Michael Cook
March 8, 2019
Reproduced with Permission

During Australia's debate over same-sex marriage during the 2017 postal plebiscite, politicians gave bland reassurances that nothing would change, that life would go on, that no one could ever be forced to get same-sex-married. What difference could striking out the words "man and woman" and substituting "two people" make?

Well, the debate has come and gone. Same-sex marriage is legal and the changes so far are passing largely unnoticed in the media.

But this doesn't mean that the issue is over. Far from it. LGBT activists believe that same-sex marriage is just the beginning - and that they have the muscle to force changes. As Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, put it:

Our victory in the marriage equality campaign was the starting point for something even bigger. We discovered that together we are a force -- and a voice -- to be reckoned with; one that had the power to change laws, and change lives.

But the beginning of what? Thanks to Liam Elphick, a legal expert from the University of Western Australia, we now have a comprehensive list of urgently needed changes. He published them in an article in The Conversation earlier this week. It's a very long list.

And there's more, much more, because "many of us face intersectional and compounding forms of discrimination ... through our age, gender, race, disability or other attributes."

All these amendments to the law will force non- LGBTI+ folk and their children to change as well, especially people who believe that homosexual activity is morally wrong. In some cases, accommodating them means privileging the LGBTI+ lifestyle. For example, why should they be entitled to unlimited government-funded counselling sessions with a psychologist and not a traumatised migrant?

But most worrying is the impact upon the next generation. Elphick's laundry list is not only a list of demands to protect the LGBT+ community; its sub-text is also an agenda for re-educating younger Australians so that none of them harbour negative or stigmatizing thoughts. And the most efficient way to do that is controlling what children are taught in schools, both public and private.

Critics of "gay marriage activists" called them totalitarian. The activists dismissed such fears as hateful. And it's true that the jails are not overflowing with "homophobes" after the plebiscite - but jails for political opponents are anachronisms. As George Orwell foresaw in Nineteen Eighty-Four, totalitarianism and its methods evolve. "The command of the old despotisms was Thou Shalt Not. The command of the totalitarians was Thou Shalt. Our command is Thou Art," the Party official tells his captive, Winston. "No one whom we bring to this place ever stands out against us. Everyone is washed clean."

The despotism of "Thou Art" - how prophetic.