Marriage Equality? Why Not No Marriage At All?

Heads up—this is going to be controversial! It is practically impossible to take a public stance against same-sex marriage without falling victim to sceptics questioning your moral worth as a fellow human. Firstly, let me make it perfectly clear: I am all for equal love, and same sex relationships are just as real as any other (read that last part carefully as I’ll be coming back to this later). This piece varies from others in not being purely anti-same-sex marriage but rather, anti-marriage. For the politically minded, you may be thinking of the ‘Gillard Approach’ but I myself wish to expand this further.

What is marriage? Where did it come from? Is it needed?

Whilst the exact definition varies amongst different cultures, marriage is generally considered an institution that formalises interpersonal (often sexual) relationships. In Australia, the Marriage Act 1961 (Cwlth) defines marriage as ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’

As for the origins of marriage—this varies as well, with early cultures using marriage as an economic advantage over women since they often had minimal rights before the law regarding property ownership. However, early in Christian history, the relevant churches took it upon themselves to conduct religious ceremonies with the notion that god had to be approving of such unions. Whilst there was the formalisation of ‘love’ this tended to be secondary. However, Christian culture tended to require both parties to be willing.

So, if marriage was historically for economic benefit, how are we where we are today? Over the years, various countries imposed their own laws regarding marriage—what it is and what it means for those involved. In Australia, marriage used to provide certain rights when it came to taxation and legal implications regarding relationship separation. Today though, these same rights are afforded to de-facto relationships, including the relationships of same-sex couples.  The push for same-sex marriage stems from wanting the same rights as heterosexual couples. This is a noble plight, however I think the idea of marriage is fundamentally flawed, no matter the sexual orientation of those involved.

Yes, marriage is important in some religions—fine, let those who are religious marry as part of their faith, independent of the law. Legally, they would still have the same rights as a de-facto relationship, so why the need for legal recognition of marriage?

Some faiths promote polygamy. The Marriage Act does not recognise polygamous relationships, yet these are regarded as just as ‘real’. By extension, this is a form of religious persecution. This could be easily avoided by letting marriage once again become the responsibility of the church for those who are so inclined—not a formalisation by the state.

Sadly, the idea of marriage as being the be all and end all has become entrenched in modern culture and highly unlikely to change. But really, if the same economic benefits are bestowed to un-wed couples, is there really a need for it outside of religious circles—if at all? Yes, weddings can be fun, but there’s nothing to say that you can’t just throw a party.

On that note, same-sex marriage will eventuate in Australia but let us ask ourselves: is it time we did away with marriage for good?

Words by Brian Gardiner