The IPA's Julie Novak recently took on Simon Copland in a Guardian-sponsored debate over libertarianism and sexuality. Catallaxyfiles very kindly drew my attention to this.
Julie Novak says that libertarianism is good for gay people. Simon Copland repeats some rather tepid first-year-sociology-lecture material about heterosexuality being a direct product of Friedrich Engels (or something; I have to admit I wasn't really paying attention by that stage, because it was like listening to Rik from The Young Ones all over again.)
I disagree with Simon Copland, but I think he speaks out of ignorance. He is simply repeating what he’s been told over and over, rather than doing some broader reading and a bit of really independent thinking.
Given Simon’s current employment and occupational provenance, I’d say he’s used to trotting out the well-worn line that ‘marriage has always been oppressive to women’ because he CAN say that, as a man, and get murmurs of approval from every gay man and woman in his (self-selected) audience. This makes him feel good, and they all seem to like it as well, so naturally he believes it to be true.
If he bothered to learn a little REAL history, he would soon realise that marriage in general, and in Western Europe in particular, had until recently developed into an effective legal and social way of protecting women, and the children they become pregnant with, from desertion and abandonment by feckless men.
We have managed to undo that in the last few decades with easy divorce, with the results around us: sole parent families, almost all female-headed, form a substantial underclass of poverty in Australia. Fatherless children continue to underperform across a broad range of social indicators.
Meanwhile, men, set free by 24 hour / 7 day contraceptive protection for women, do what they like, when they like, to whoever will let them, and then for some reason ‘refuse to commit’, much to their disappointed sexual partners’ surprise.
The state has taken on the responsibility of protecting, feeding, clothing and otherwise providing for these fractured casualties of our commitment to deconstructing marriage. It has not done a good job. I’m not saying all husbands and fathers do a good job, but most of them can do a better job than the state.
Until we find a proven, effective, and legalisable REPLACEMENT for marriage, I’d be a bit less hasty in demolishing it. In the meantime, women and children continue to suffer even more grievously precisely because our society does not value marriage any longer.
PS Julie, I respect you both as an economist and a pushy broad, but we have to face some facts here: gay people form a tiny minority of the Australian population.
The 2011 Census produced a count of 33,714 same-sex couples in Australia. That’s 67,428 individuals. If we are generous and include the shy couples and the singles, we might just make it up to 80,000 with a good tail wind. (If we can’t count accurately, we can all just guess, and this is my guess.)
That’s around the same number of people who listed their religion as ‘Jedi’ in the 2001 Census. I am all in favour of religious freedom, but I really don’t think we need to change marriage laws to accommodate Jedi, either.