The fight for gay marriage in the US took yet another blow last Wednesday when the New York state senate voted down a bill that would have allowed same-sex partners to marry in the empire state.

Oh Lord, how do I get out of this bunker? Photo by AFP.

It follows the repeal of gay marriage rights in California last November when voters in a referendum abolished a short-lived law that allowed gay couples to marry there.

The Governator’s state constitution now reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The majority of Maine voters passed a similar repeal last month.

The recent votes have been a boon to those right-wingers who believe gay unions devalue the institution of marriage. But to them I say, take a look around – you don’t need any help from us in cheapening this particular bond.

Tiger Woods, whose indiscretions have been by far the biggest story in the US for the past two weeks (what troop surge in Afghanistan?), is doing his bit. The golfer’s domestic drama couldn’t have come at a better time to illustrate the absurdity of the “value of marriage” argument against gay unions.

The increasingly bizarre love-decahedron of Monsieur Woods and his mini harem has been a fascinating story to watch unfold. The texts, the emails, the voicemail, the David Boreanaz cameo.

Even I, who publicly protest that Tiger’s “indiscretions” are not real news, have forgone my subway routine – avoid eye contact, breath through mouth, read intellectual-looking novel – to grab a peek at the tabloid covers this week.

My favourite headline? Tiger Admits: I’m A Cheetah.

The Aussie in me has loved the skewering. Among family, friends and decent coffee, the tall poppy syndrome is one of the things I miss most about the homeland.

But more than just giving me a laugh, Tiger’s punch line of a marriage says something about the state of marriage right now and the right of people to enter into it.

As the tide turns against gay marriage across America, people like Woods and the papers that cover him continue to make a mockery of love, honour and all that “death do us part” stuff.

Marriage, whether in tabloid newspapers or on TV shows such as Bridezillas and Australia’s own The Farmer Wants a Wife, is fast becoming a joke.

Staten Island state senator Diane Savino touched on this while talking to the New York senate before the recent vote on gay marriage.

In a speech that has now gone viral across the web, the straight-talking Savino addressed the sanctity of marriage in her thick Noo-Yawk accent.

“What are we really protecting when you look at the divorce rate in our society?” asked the senator.  “Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on their way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day… We’re giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch “The Bachelor”, where 30 desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life.”

Savino’s point is salient.

The government happily endorses the right of the Bachelor to marry a bikini-clad opportunist for a month and get a quickie divorce.

Yet it will not provide that same right for a gay couple who have demonstrated their love and commitment for years - not in Sydney, not in Melbourne, not in Maine, not in California, not even in traditionally progressive New York.

It apparently boils down to protecting the value of marriage. (The value of Tiger’s marriage? US$60 million. That’s how much he’s reportedly paying his wife, Elin Nordegren, to stick by him.)

But by voting down the bill on this or whatever basis, the senate here has done nothing to protect the value of equality.

The senate sent a message last week that Australia has always sent to its own gay community: you are not equal.

By not allowing same-sex couples to marry in the exact same way that straight couples do, with the exact same related rights, these governments effectively endorse wider spread feelings in the community that gays are lesser citizens.

And those feelings still exist, even in the world’s most liberal pockets.

Just last week, a friend of mine was coming out of a store when he was pushed and called a “faggot” by a stranger on Broadway, the busiest thoroughfare in the most free-wheeling city on earth.

When asked if he was okay, he simply told me, “It happens.”

He’s not angry about this, but I am. I’m fuming. I’m angry for my friend and I am angry at the message that the senate vote sends to the bloke who pushed him.

If this guy’s representative believes gays aren’t equal, why should he believe they are? His act of discrimination is tacitly endorsed whenever the supposed sanctity of marriage trumps the equal rights of the citizenry in congress or in parliament.

This week’s Tiger-gate headlines show once again how thin that sanctity can be. And yet Tiger will rack up a few more anniversaries with Elin and that Broadway pusher has the right to shotgun it in Vegas tomorrow with a girl he meets tonight.

But loving gay couples that have been together for years and want to tie the knot continue to be the true threat to marriage and its diminishing value.

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    • Phil says:

      06:26am | 09/12/09

      Sorry, let me wipe away the tears I am currently shedding for you.

    • Eric says:

      06:37am | 09/12/09

      In between all the counting of mistresses, we should also note that Tiger Woods is apparently a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his wife.

      Yet this aspect of the affair has been swept under the carpet.

      If a man had physically attacked his cheating wife, injuring her, would that have been ignored in the resulting sex scandal?

    • Liz says:

      06:55am | 09/12/09

      Tiger Woods is fairly typical of many married men,mos tjust don’t get found out and if it doesn’t matter to them does it matter? Marriage currently seems to be a big day for Bridezillas and a lack of committment for men, nothing about love,caring, learning to compromise and work as a team.No wonder it’s go ne down the pan.If the gay community can make it work better let them have a go! America is such a country of contradictions.
      Does decent coffee exist anywhere there?

    • Dan says:

      07:07am | 09/12/09

      The question of whether or not to allow gay marriage raises the question; who defines marriage? Should it be the Government, mainstream society or individuals? We shouldn’t simply choose to amend marriage to include gays, or choose not to amend it. We need to ask what essentially defines marriage. Is it a loving committment between a man and a woman? two people? Two or more people?

    • Faul Kinell says:

      07:52am | 09/12/09

      Very few womem really care about the very real physical needs of a male, it’s all about caring for each other. There is only so much ” not tonight dear” that a man can take! A poor sex life taints ones outlook of all the other elements in your life. In practical terms an intimate physical hour per week equals a contented and loving remainding 167 hours. Not a huge ask surely?

    • T.Chong says:

      08:02am | 09/12/09

      Liz 7:55 dont know about you ,but our marriage promises were big on love, committment,fidelity, and working together etc and we have managed to live that way.
      Were you aware that you are NOT forced to recite vows that you find wrong, and since the 20th century, most people write their own vows?
      Agree with you about gay marriage, the gals and guys should be able to be committed partners, and have the state recognise the union.

    • Paul says:

      08:10am | 09/12/09

      I will agree with the small basis of your rant.  Marriage should not be treated as a simple commodity between a man and a women.  It is and should be a significant commitment that is not taken lightly.  Divorce should only be seen as a last resort, and then only in cases of abuse or adultery.  Until we get our house in order then we will continue to struggle to have a right to say no to anyone else.

    • Davo from Sydney says:

      08:55am | 09/12/09

      If marriage has become a joke, as quoted by the author above, then why do gay couples want a part of that?

      Will gay couples guarantee that they will always stay faithful?  Of course, that is a stupid question, but it is exactly the premise that Joel bases his argument on.  Very poor article.

    • danj says:

      09:15am | 09/12/09

      Let the gays get married, no make them get married. The rest of us have to put up with it.

    • James says:

      09:41am | 09/12/09

      Well done Davo.  You have missed the point entirely.  The author’s central premise was that, if heterosexuals consider marriage to be so worthless, why deny others the same right to engage in a worthless activity?  It is about equal rights, not the status of marriage.  C for effort, but D for comprehension, I am sorry.

    • andrew says:

      09:52am | 09/12/09

      @ Davo… the main argument that governments and religions are using against same-sex marriage is that it will de-value the instituion of marriage (when it is defined as being between a man and a woman). The argument being used by Joel is that straight couples are already doing a fine job of de-valuing it themselves.

      Most of the GLBTiQ community don’t want to get married. But we want the right to be able to. All we want is to be treated the same as every body else.

    • Jeff says:

      10:20am | 09/12/09

      I disagree with the presumption that not allowing gay marriage/gay unions implies the gay person as lesser than a heterosexual.
      Marriage is God’s plan for most males/females. It’s an institution where we learn unconditional love, self control, trust etc. A loving, healthy family is the best place for kids to grow up.
      If you form you opinion of marriage from tabloid newspapers and alike I can see how you might end up thinking it is a bad thing. I tend to look at the married couples around me, friends and family. What I see is not perfect. But I have never seen a better alternative.

    • DG says:

      10:26am | 09/12/09

      I tend to think that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Create “civil unions” open to all couples - that are the equivalent of the current legal “marriage” - and to cease recognising religious unions.

      Problem solved - religion can have their ceremony (without any legal implications) and those that which to have a legally recognised union may do so by civil arrangement. That is not to exclude the religious from legal unions, but instead to recognise that religion and the law should be kept separate.

      It is interesting to note that when having this debate we really only consider christian “marriage” as opposed to the various other ‘unions’ of a socio-religious nature such as Judaism, Islam, Hindu as well as the tradition of ‘marriage’ of Aboriginal Australians which existed long before Christianity took up the banner.

      A truly secular approach would be to support the separation of church and state (as enshrined in our Constitution) and treat the legal concept of marriage as completely distinct from the religious.

      I would argue that this approach avoids the issue of the worth of religious marriage - it will be between the participants and their deity of choice - it should have no legal implications whatsoever.

    • Tim says:

      11:02am | 09/12/09

      This article provides no valid reason why gay marriage should be allowed but rather a great argument as to why marriage laws should be scrapped altogether.
      The government should repeal the marriage act and enact a civil union law in which anyone can register their relationship.

    • Chase Stevens says:

      11:04am | 09/12/09

      The Government has no right to deny it’s citizens basic rights, neither should the majority have the ability to undermine the rights of a minority. Marriage has long ceased to be a mere religious institution and has become a civil one.

      @DG - This is the type of argument that should be pushed.

    • KM says:

      11:29am | 09/12/09

      ‘Mistresses’???!? Hehe - just how old are you Eric out of curiousity?
      Besides, Tiger hasn’t revealed what happened regarding the ‘supposed’ domestic violence, if he does, then the world will no doubt judge that too.
      Back to the actual point of the article, I agree us hetero’s are in no position to preach on relationship commitments!

    • DG says:

      11:40am | 09/12/09

      Tim (12:02pm | 09/12/09)

      While I agree entirely, there is one particular constitutional complexity which I should have mentioned in my previous post. That relates to the word “Marriage” - specifically, section 51 (xxi) of the Constitution which provides: The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:... (xxi) Marriage”.

      For that reason, while the legal ‘marriage’ should be completely free from any religious observance, the term marriage must remain from a constitutional perspective, or a referendum must be held to ensure that the commonwealth has the requisite jurisdiction. I do not suggest that there would be any hindrance to legislation under the current power to make law with respect to gay marriage, only that the term marriage would need to be retained.

    • Paul Horn says:

      12:37pm | 09/12/09

      Oh Dear Joel I will enjoy wiping the floor with your ridiculous rant. Marriage has been progressively annihilated by the actions of liberal minded politically active progressives such as yourself! We had the no fault divorce law introduced by scum such as the preverted Mr Lionel Murphy in the 70’s which opened the flood gates for quickie divorces and surprised even him!!
      Then we had progressive labour hacks introduce legislation to accord equal status to “de - facto” couples further weakening the uniqueness of the institution. 

      Now of course the progressive game plan of the latte elite is to bang on about gay marriage, then it will be polygamy, polyamorism. bestiality, necrophilia, in fact anything that comes to mind. What a damned circus!  It is the actions of countercultural progressive vermin such as yourself that have bought about the destruction of this institution. People of course simply take advantage (encouraged by the progressive media) of laws passed by activist progressives who’s real aim is to wipe out the marital union which they happily despise. 

      It always makes me laugh when the vermin filth use the outdated argument to “love, honour and obey” when they criticise marriage when it is they that have done everything in their power to discredit, destroy and wipe out that very notion.

      Just think Joel in the decent days it took two activities before a couple could be legally married, the first a ceremony recignised by the State and second heterosexual consummation! That in itself would wipe the floor of your Gay Rights argument now would’nt it!  Damned Hypocrite!

    • James says:

      12:53pm | 09/12/09

      Wow Paul Horn, dude you need to calm down a little.  Who is talking about necrophilia exactly?  Mate, its vermin like you, imposing your own standards on the rest of us, that make this country so much worse than it could otherwise be.  If I live in a defacto relationship - why should my love for my (female) partner be considered as meaning less than your own?  And you can not blame Mr Murphy because so many people were not committed to their marriages - that blame falls on those individuals themselves.  That is what is destroying the institution of marriage - the behaviour of selfish individuals.  It is you who is the “prevert” (sic), Mr Horn.  If anyone does not deserve equal status, it is the hypocrites like you who deny it to others…

    • Razor says:

      01:01pm | 09/12/09

      I would have thought that anybody who sees what us poor married bastards have to put up with, they would have felt priveledged not to suffer from the societal pressure to get married.

      Once is a mistake, twice is stupid, three times is un-effing believable.

      Be careful what you wish for - you may get it.

    • GeeJay says:

      01:05pm | 09/12/09

      Paul Horn——I don’t think you have wiped the floor with anything but yourself ..You appear to be a very bitter person! My memory of Lionel Murphy is that,that law change was greatly overdue,and welcolmed by most people..

    • Helen says:

      01:10pm | 09/12/09

      the preverted Mr Lionel Murphy

      *Hilbilly accent* : Filthy pree-verts!

      Paul H, besides being somewhat ridiculous, you are demonstrating your paucity of moral values by referring to other humans as “vermin filth”. That is very un-Christian.

    • Chase Stevens says:

      01:46pm | 09/12/09

      Everyone! Paul Horn is a time traveller from the 1950’s! He means no harm or disrespect towards his fellow humans. He just suffers from a lack of education, it is our responsibility to show him that people are allowed to be different now, and that it’s okay to be different. Tolerance people, tolerance.

    • bec says:

      01:51pm | 09/12/09

      I’m sick of being accused of being a “latte elitist”. Some of us only drink the International Roast that we pilfer from the smoko room, okay?

    • Paul Horn says:

      02:19pm | 09/12/09

      Gee GeeJay I wonder where you gather your statisitcs. My recollection is that Mr Murphy never intended or in fact believed that passing this law would be so popularly embraced. He was quite astonished and concerned to see the terrifying increase in divorce applications. I wonder with the benefit of hindsight and the pleasure of a few decades of rotting in hell whether he would be so entusiastic again in supporting this perversion of legislation!

      I note also that divorce and marital breakdown has increased significantly with the introduction of increasingly progressive legislation, not the other way around.  With it has come massive increases in welfare dependency, substance abuse, social dysfunction etc, all great accomplishments of the stinking progressive agenda.

      Strange also my elite friends that with greater rights, greater freedoms to do as you wish, non existent moral standards that the divorce rate still continues to climb and that contempt for the institution has never been higher.  You would think would you not that with far greater personal freedoms and a rights infested social agenda that those getting married would have far more stable, happy and committed relationships than their forebears. Unfortunately not so and with it a corresponding increase in social isolation, depression, substance abuse the list goes on and on. But you would never admit to the part the progressive agenda has played in this miserable social experiment.
      So thank you my labour voting, inner city living, progressive latte loving friends your legacy is complete and something of which you can be proud.

      And Helen even Christ called the Pharisees a pit of vipers! I shudder to think what he would call the progressive elite of modern times. The damage and human misery this sick philosophy has foisted upon the Western World makes Hitler and Stalin look like Christian Saints. Thanks for your replies.

    • DG says:

      02:23pm | 09/12/09

      While I disagree with most of the comments made by Mr Horn, I do share his view on “No fault divorce”. It removed all responsibility, it gave all of the power in a relationship to “the person who cares least”. Suddenly the person who has an interest in sticking to their vows is able to do so only at the whim of the other party - and the other party faces no consequences for their decision to leave.

      At least with fault one person had to prove that the other had done the wrong thing - before being given a get out. More importantly, the person harmed by the disinterested party could be vindicated, while the disinterested were chastised for breaking their promises.

      But this is neither here nor there when it come to who should be permitted to be married at law.

    • James says:

      02:57pm | 09/12/09

      Paul Horn, I would also like to note that there has been a massive increase in people using Nazi analogies since the Second World War - coincidence?  I don’t think so.

      Where do you get the assumption that before people could easily divorce, there was happiness and marital bliss for all?  Who is to say that, in line with the evidence, that facade of marital bliss covered a morass of infidelity, spousal abuse, violence and domination?  Why do you assume that people 50 years ago are so much better than people now?  Isn’t that what your forebears said about your own generation?

      You elitists really annoy me.  You harp on about how degenerate young people are, and hark back to some non-existent utopia that your memories’ are too far gone to remember was actually pretty crap.  I don’t know where they hold the statistics on relative contempt for marriage now, and pre-1970.  And if the ALP is so bad, what did your beloved conservatives do to fix it over the 12 years pre-2007?

    • stephen says:

      03:06pm | 09/12/09

      I just read his mother-in-law has been taken to hospital.
      She must feel left out.

    • AFR says:

      03:11pm | 09/12/09

      Hey Paul, the 1950’s called, and wondered where you got to.

    • Venise says: says:

      03:48pm | 09/12/09

      Why do I get the feeling that some people get married just so they can have a divorce?

      Unless there is the desire to have children why would anyone want to get married? By getting married you risk giving two people something to pull against. By living together you give two people something to work for. Mutual respect, joy in giving to another person, sharing a rich and full life. All the things that tend to go out the window when lust has died down.

    • Paul Horn says:

      06:07pm | 09/12/09

      Yes James I seem to remember some of your elitist compatriots comparing the arrival of white man in Australia as some sort of Nazi genocidal plot. And the so called policy of removing half caste Aboriginal children from harms way as akin to Hitlers extermination programs. So yes the analogies have been flowing thick and fast especially from the left intelligentsia.

      DG light bulb moment yee ha. Funny how the aggrieved partners never get a voice in todays cult of extreme individualism so well done to you! Fools like Pemberthy would have you believe in recent articles he has written on the subject that divorce is a happy occasion with two satisfied people riding off into separate sunsets. What CRAP. For every right of someone to easily walk out the door the right of the other partner to an expectation of commitment and partnership as originally vowed is wiped off the face of the Earth! And of course the vast majority of people initiating divorce are women which suits the aims of the feminist movement very nicely. Were it the other way around you could bet your bottom dollar that there would be a lot of lobbying the Government to repeal the no fault legislation. Can you understand why there are a lot of aggrieved males out there whose voices have been trampled on in the rush to assign them to the social dustbin.

      And you also know James that conflict rises exponentially during the divorce process as would logically be expected. So where are the feminist groups actively lobbying against divorce as a means of reducing domestic violence??? Oh the silence is deafening!!!

      Anyway could go on but perhaps you just might get a chink of the real truth and the lies and deceit peddled by the Philp Adams fired Femi Nazi countercultural movement though I would most likely doubt it.

    • bec says:

      06:28pm | 09/12/09

      Yeah, because fault-based divorces were TOTALLY fun and awesome. A lot of these divorces necessitated soon-to-be divorcees co-conspiring to prove the adultery or ill-treatment of another by recruiting other men/women to take out a hotel reservation with them just so that there would be basis for a divorce. How degrading and time-consuming.

      At least this system doesn’t demonise either side - either male or female.

    • GeeJay says:

      07:28pm | 09/12/09

      Paul Horn—- Your recollections are quite wrong..The only people appauled by the law change were religious bigots.The rest of us were happy that private detectives were not bugging rooms and photographing people,and that couples were not having to plead to things that did not happen so that they could be rid of one and other..It was a bad time for people that wanted out!!!

    • Jon C says:

      08:00am | 10/12/09

      I find it telling that Paul Horn resorts to dripping sarcasm and childish name-calling.  Sometimes you can weigh the merits of an argument by the manner in which the combatants conduct themselves.

    • DG says:

      08:28am | 10/12/09

      @Paul Horn - This has nothing to do with some feminist conspiracy nor anything to do with some all powerful god*. It has everything to do with my personal belief that people should be held accountable to their promises.

      @GeeJay - I have to disagree there - I am appalled by “no fault” divorce and I think that “God” is a fictional character made up to control people (first as a community standard as a means of understanding the world around them and also for setting ‘rules’ for life.

      I do however, agree that parties should be entitled to agree to terminate their marriage without either having broken their promises (after all if it is by agreement, they are released from their promises by the person to whom the promise was made rather than breaking those promises).

      @bec - Divorce should not be fun. Marriage is, at law, “For life, to the exclusion of all others”. That is a vow made before the law (community and family) and certified in the presence of witnesses. Such an agreement should be binding in accordance with its terms and the promises made in connection with that agreement (i.e decision to have to have kids and when, promise on area of residence etc). That is not to say that the parties can’t agree to change their promises but they should not be entitled to veto enforcement of such promises, certainly not without repercussions.

      “I’ve changed my mind” should not excuse a person from the promises that they have made especially when another person has relied on those promises and built their own lives around them. A person who breaks such a solemn promise should have to give good reason to break their agreement - and it should be the case that they have to prove that the other party has broken the agreement (or that they have agreed to release the other person from the agreement).

      I see “no fault” divorce as a symptom of our “no responsibility” society. Driven by self interest and greed - loyalty, compromise and honour have been dismissed in the modern world. Behaviour that was considered ‘dishonourable’ is no longer recognised for the damage it has on our social relationships.

      For example - how could you ever trust a word that a person says if they are willing to break such a serious promise as to be with one person for life to the exclusion of all others? Where is their honour to live by their promise or their loyalty to the partner that remains true to their promises? Why is such treachery cloaked behind the delusive “irreconcilable differences” rather than outed for the ignoble action it is. How could one respect such a disloyal, dishonourable, despicable individual? the perpetrator of such a betrayal deserves to be demonised.

      Now where the other party has first broken their promises I can understand seeking a divorce on those grounds - a person betrayed must have some rights - but they should be rights that the betrayed, and the betrayed alone, can exercise. That is to say the right to seek divorce should be solely the domain of the person that has broken the promises and that person should be outed as such.

      *either he is all powerful and can fix it himself if there is a problem or he is impotent and should be ignored - your call.

    • bec says:

      12:57pm | 10/12/09

      DG, did you see the word “fun” in my comment and immediately presume that I was being 100% literal?

      Dear sweet jesus. At least this is evidence that the currently controversial “literacy crisis” of gen Y is a beat-up.

    • DG says:

      02:00pm | 10/12/09

      @Bec -

      No, I did not assume that your meaning was literal. Actually I thought quite the opposite.

      I understood that you were suggesting that the whole experience was tortuous when there was a concept of “fault” as both parties set out to prove that the other was at fault. I was actually suggesting that it SHOULD be tortuous - if the other person has done the wrong thing have the courage and strength of character to call them on it - ensure that they are demonsised for their betrayal - don’t allow them to hid behind the idea that no one did the wrong thing.

      I elected to use the word that you had used to reflect the sentiment that the “problem” that you saw with the old system (that it was such an unpleasant experience) was the exact reason that I like the principles of the old system (i.e that one person face the consequences for breaking their promise). Just as I used the word demonised in the last line of the second last paragraph - to draw on the sentiment of your original post and establish a level of consistency in the language that we were using.

      Were I to use language that was not consistent, I feared that there would be some misunderstanding as to my point - specifically, my point that the very things that you despised about fault divorce were the things that I consider to be its strengths.

      I hope that clarifies my position, and gives you the opportunity to appreciate the point that I was actually making.

    • James says:

      02:15pm | 10/12/09

      Ouch Paul, now you’ve hurt my feelings.  I had no idea thinking that women are equal to men was such an awful thing.  Lucky people like you are around to set us young-uns straight.


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