Keeping the Faith

Marriage: is it as Sacred as Trees?

THE Greens are fighting fiercely to protect the Tarkine wilderness in Tassie’s North-West. This significant tract of temperate rainforest has been upheld as a sacred place worthy of protection.

People feel strongly about it.

Over the past few years we’ve seen protests from community groups and heartfelt speeches from Greens pollies against changes mooted including the Tarkine tourist road and forestry and mining operations.

The Tarkine is beautiful and effective as it stands, they have cried. The Tarkine is a place with World Heritage values. The Tarkine nurtures life and should not be altered.

Proponents for change reply that opening up the Tarkine would give access to all, enhance economic benefit to the region and show off something the rest of Australia doesn’t have.

Ironically, these are the very arguments that Tasmania’s Labor-Green government is using to rip apart the sacred place that is marriage. We see our premier Lara Giddings revving up the bulldozer and preparing to clear a way for all homosexual couples to know what it is to be married. This government is willing to toss aside the “heritage values” of marriage as it stands, to topple the way things have been for a millennia (like the Tarkine) just so that a minority can have a look in.

Joni Mitchell’s tune Big Yellow Taxi crooned from my car radio the other day:

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

And as I gripped the steering wheel, blinking into the sun, I wondered if those lines would describe marriage one day.

As a married woman I am uncomfortable with the plan to redefine marriage. Can you even do that – redefine an institution that so many of us have used as the axis of family and life? Redefine a covenant?

Technicalities aside, marriage has served us well.

We have not served it so well as revealed in high divorce rates, but when marriage is respected and its boundaries obeyed, it is the blueprint for family happiness.

Part of the reason is its exclusivity. Marriage is unashamedly exclusive. Not for a man and a bevy of women. Not for a brother and his sister. Not for a person and an animal. Not for a man and a man. It is exclusive to defend those under its protection: children.

I’m sorry – this is not an issue of discrimination. That word has been bandied about to knock fear into anyone voicing opposition, to quash the discussion. This is a matter of homosexuals wanting what heterosexuals have. Political correctness gone awol.

So, you’re gay. You are welcome at my table any time. I can open my heart to you, love you like any great friend, I just can’t agree with your lifestyle and your need for a marriage contract.

In a recent interview, Greens leader Christine Milne commented, “The Tarkine is one of the jewels in the crown in terms of Tasmanian wilderness.”

I would say likewise is marriage to community.

Should we not defend it with the same vigour?

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As printed in The Examiner for Keeping the Faith column, Monday August 27.



  1. Kate Morse says

    Thank you Claire for writing this article and showing that marriage of a man and a woman is the basis of our society and it is what God intended it to be. After all Jesus died so that we could enter His Family and He is not afraid to call us His brothers and sisters.

  2. Thomas says

    It’d be easy to just criticise your beliefs in a 1700 year-old book that has little factual verification, and observe that this kind of narrow-minded view is why religion in western nations has been experiencing a steady decline. I’d rather avoid doing that, as I accept the belief of others to be important to them and not to be made light of. So here is my attempt at a more rational approach:

    Way to promote tolerance. It’s funny how people forget or are ignorant of one of the core foundations of modern democracy and the liberalism inherent which we all extol. The government’s role is not only to listen to the majority, but also to ensure that the minority have their opinions heard and considered fairly amidst an oppressive majority (and I say oppressive majority merely from a theoretical standpoint not because the anti-same-sex marriage standpoint is prevailing); it’s a core tenet of democracy to allow that minority ‘to have a look in’. Additionally, just as you can expect people to tolerate your right to adhere to and believe in the teachings of a long-haired and long-dead dude, it is your obligation to likewise tolerate beliefs you disagree with (regardless of how vehemently).

    You’ve noted yourself that they are a minority. What do you think is going to happen if it’s legalised? That they’re going to somehow dominate the entire institution itself despite their minority? That suddenly your marriage is polluted knowing that a homosexual couple that you don’t know, and are unlikely to know, are married? The Earth will open up and swallow us all whole? That the rate of homosexuality in children and teenagers will suddenly skyrocket? You will continue to be married. They will be married. Your social spheres are unlikely to cross if they don’t already. It’s not a redefinition of marriage, it’s an expansion of marriage to encompass and tolerate everyone’s personal choice.

    You also keep noting the ‘heritage’ and historical significance of the institution of marriage. Not everything old is inherently worth keeping, and those that are kept will undoubtedly experience change that is representative of the age. We might as well bring back the notion of dowries, and the repressed woman; Why are you writing? You should be in the kitchen creating domestic bliss. After all, the idea of a patriarchal household is old and therefore worth keeping in its original form.

    Comparing it to the Tarkine is a false analogy. Firstly you’re comparing it to nature; it’s not man-made – it’s been there far longer than your Bible even claims the world has existed. It serves a vital biological function in its ability to capture carbon and produce oxygen – important since, like me, you probably enjoy breathing; it serves everyone. Thus not only does it serve a function in the continuation of life, but its beauty can also be appreciated regardless of what the viewer believes. So if anything, same-sex marriage is more like the Tarkine.

    • Thank you Thomas for your views. You’re obviously an educated man. However, in the end all that really matters is where your hope lies. I have no fear of death because Jesus – that long-haired and long-dead dude that you refer to – prepared the way for me to hang out in heaven (aka eternity or perfect relationship with God). Jesus is not dead. He is very much alive to me and I only hope that you experience this one day.

      In the meantime, we can strive to maintain this planet the way God intended and uphold his values. When we divert from God’s way, we pay the consequences.

      • And for those of us who don’t believe in your god? We should be forced to live by bronze age rules which have been bent and ignored countless times since they were written? We should be forced to live in a society with a second class of citizen, who’s families are given less value?

      • Tamaresque says

        Do you really think Jesus would support discrimination against anyone? Not the person I was raised to know; so how can you call yourself Christian and openly discriminate against people who are simply attracted to people that you are not?

    • sptsjunkie says

      I would be very interested in knowing then if you prevent women from short hair from entering your church (an abomination in the new testament). Do you refrain from wearing mixed fabrics? Are you subservient to your husband? If a man dies, do you want to government to force her to marry his younger brother?

      Just curious if you follow all of God’s rules laid out in the bible or if your pick and choose what to follow based on your own personal bias and which rules allow you to hurt other people instead of making actual sacrifices yourself.

      For that matter, since we are codifying all of God’s rules in government contracts, I assume you will also be willing to make sacrifices to your lifestyle to accommodate Jewish laws, Islamic laws, etc. Since every religion has different rules they need the government to enforce.

      • Cam Barkerw says

        No I doubt she does. It is funny how the religious justify their own bigotry by the words of the ‘good’ book whilst ignoring other things that book says. Will we see am article soon about how we should not eat shellfish, work on the sabbath, and that we are allowed to own slaves? If not why not?

        Surely these teachings just as relevant?

  3. Nine says

    I agree with you, but you need to go one step further and truly devote yourself to your faith. Perhaps a re-reading of 1 Timothy 2:12? Or is that just another example of how a direct reading of passages from the Holy Bible can cause much emotional and even physical hurt?

    Were you actually implying that you would prefer your children to grow up in a devastated Tasmania, one of the last wilderness sanctuaries in the world, but be safe in the knowledge that their life long unions are legally acknowledged as being above that of a same sex couple? Good job. You’re children will truly know love (obvious sarcasm).

    I’m sure you are aware of the quote ‘do unto other as you would do unto yourself’. I’m not exactly certain which historical figure is credited with that one… but hey, I have an even better little saying that is credited to no man or woman, but is just a general rule of thumb for being a good and decent person: don’t be mean. That is to say that if what you are trying to achieve causes harm to others and has literally no benefit to anyone including yourself, then don’t do it. Because that is just mean.

    • Hi Nine – that’s actually a bible quote, found in the gospels.
      “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
      And it’s so fitting that you refer to it. If I was on a path of destruction I would hope someone would pull me aside and (lovingly) ask me to consider my decisions.
      As for Tassie’s forests – I love them and hope my children will enjoy them as I do one day. I just don’t agree with the way the Greens defend at all cost (look at how our economy is suffering). But that’s another topic!

      • Hi Claire.
        FYI, the Golden Rule predates the Bible. It is not necessarily a “Bible quote.”

      • Tamaresque says

        That’s what these commenters are trying to do; pull you aside and ask you to consider your decision to support discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.
        How do you feel about marriage between a man and a woman if one of the couples is a transgendered person who is now legally acknowledged to be the sex they have changed into? This is a perfectly legal marriage; do you support the legality of that or are you happy to only support legal marriage between a ‘natural’ man and woman?

  4. Lester Barker says

    Praise the Lord Clare! My brother Cletus dabbled in homosexuality when he was in the big house. He didnt really have a choice if you get my drift, although he did say that he eventually began to enjoy it and even dated a 6′ 8 down syndrome biker named Bubba. But i digress. Point is when Cletus was parolled from the Pink Palace he found the lord and hasnt seen Bubba since. Cletus has even set the Gimp free just like Jesus set Cletus free. Now he attends Door of Hope church sells Amway, attends Bible study and takes youth group at McDonalds. Marriage should between a man & woman not blokes & blokes & sheilas & sheilas. Praise God!

  5. Catharina says

    Thank you for voicing your opinion. I am a christian and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said.

  6. Peter says

    Want to encourage you Claire, thanks for making a stand!

  7. Kashina Crabbe says

    How can I put this so you might understand… Your Opinion Is Hurtful to fellow Equal Human Beings. How dare you stomp your foot in this article and demand respect for your 1 dimensional belief, based on a privileged and uncomplicated existence with zero real life experience. The fact that your faith, repressed bigotry or lack of perspective makes you secretly believe gay sex is icky holds no Merritt in your claim of ownership over marriage. Some lesbians out there want to marry their soul mate just like you can/did. Because they are equal, because they should have equal rights and because common decency should have been discovered on this issue long ago.

    To be a good reporter people want facts. Not misdirecting opinions with a hint of religious influence. Deplorable writing. Hopefully your boss gives you a written warning on homophobic articles. I don’t want people thinking your belief is a popular one in Australia. It is not.

    The future generation demands equality regardless of sexual preference. Because we have evolved compassion, and this barbaric segregation of people, should have been dissolved completely when we discovered how racist we were and demanded equality for all nationalities.

    Maybe life will deliver some perspective after this abrupt display of insincerity and you will be blessed with a gay son, lesbian daughter who you have to fight for against simple minds like this article displays yourself as.

  8. So much ignorance in this article, where to start…

    “rip apart the sacred place that is marriage” –

    You are aware that your religion doesn’t own marriage, right? People can get married even if they belong to other religions, or no religion at all, so why should your personal religions opinion on marriage be forced on everyone as law? And also, how does two people who love each other getting married rip anything apart? Unless you are a massive bigot, or are so privileged that you think being equal to other people is unfair and you deserve to be treated better than others, I don’t see what you are getting at.

    Also, if your marriage is so pathetically weak that the fact that gay people can get married and be happy tears it apart, that’s your shitty relationship problem, and trying to force your religion on others through law won’t fix your failing marriage.

    “Part of the reason is its exclusivity. Marriage is unashamedly exclusive. Not for a man and a bevy of women. Not for a brother and his sister. Not for a person and an animal. Not for a man and a man. It is exclusive to defend those under its protection: children.”

    First of all, I am a little scared that you apparently can’t tell the difference between molesting something without consent, and two adults in a consenting relationship.

    I see you have never bothered reading the bible. Here are some of your definitions of traditional religious marriage:

    Hopefully you were a virgin when you got married Clair, or you should have been stoned to death according to the bible. Oh, and you wouldn’t have a choice in who you marry, since women were property. Men were also allowed multiple wives, as well as concubines (basically live-in prostitutes). Since you have read the bible, you know King Soloman had 700 wives, and 300 concubines at his disposal. Sounds like the “Blueprint for a happy family” to me, right? And hopefully you were never raped, since you would be forced to marry the rapist, who would buy you from your father.

    Stop me when part of this sinks in. Here’s the verses if you feel like looking up the “traditional marriage” rules in your bible:

    Genesis 2:24
    Genesis 16
    Genesis 38:6-10
    Deuteronomy 22:28-29
    Numbers 31:1-18
    Exodus 21:4

  9. Alison says

    First of all, a PROPER marriage certificate can be granted via the church, by a minister who has ordained a wedding. These days, the majoriy of people who get married are in fact taking part in what is a civil union, despite their government issued ‘marriage’ certificate. The government themselves should not be allowed to deem something that has been defined by religion and their antiquted beliefs. The current Tasmanian governments move to green light gay marriage is in accordance with contemporary beliefs, despite your biggoted views.

    if you are so upset about two people wanting to be joined legally in a binding contract, maybe you should ask for the whole marriage vs civil union system be overhauled to suit your prudish close minded sensibilities. Moreover, how many children raised by gay parents do you know personally? As i do in fact, know some of these poor children. They are well balanced, well loved and highly educated and had a sublime childhood. So who are you to judge, le your opiniom into the public spotlight breeding hate without offering a factual substantiation of your homophobic rantings.

    Finally, no gay people (or should i say people, as your sexual preference should ever define who you are) would ever want to eat at your table, for the fear of being poisened by your billious, obsolete views. For that matter, nor would i.

    *for the record, i am not gay. I just think well brought up people like you, should have listened to their mothers and kept your mouth shut when you had nothing nice to say.

  10. It’s sad to know that even Australia has its share of intolerance. This gay lifestyle you talk about, what is that? You may find this TED talk informative:

    Love is love, regardless of gender, and everyone should be entitled to the same rights: it’s not something that should even be voted on or influenced by religion. I’m a heterosexual female, by the way.

    • Tamaresque says

      Thanks for that link to the TED talk; it’s wonderful and full of humour, too. I’ve posted it on my facebook page 🙂

  11. DPan says

    Isn’t it like the apartheid thing anyway? You need a separate fountain for black people, or they will soil your precious water with their filthy mouths. Why the hell should they be allowed to drink from your very own fountain that stood untainted by black lips for so long? Everyone knows that once they drink from that fountain it will be spoiled forever, and even who drank from it in the past will be disgusted by this horrible defiling act.

  12. Understudy says

    Comparing a man made institution (marriage) to the need for the protection of the environment? This kind of comparison doesn’t work. No matter how much you may want to believe it.

    “As a married woman I am uncomfortable with the plan to redefine marriage. Can you even do that – redefine an institution that so many of us have used as the axis of family and life? Redefine a contract?”

    1) Okay so the idea of same sex couples makes you uncomfortable. We we should all just bend on what makes you comfortable. Sorry the world doesn’t work like that. Most of us realize that by age 10.

    2) Yes, you can redefine all sorts of things. Like whether or not Tassie is a penal colony for the crown. You make of marriage what you want. Your family is not mine. You don’t get to define my family.

    3) We renegotiate contracts all the time. Look at sports, entertainment. Then look at family. You can go into a marriage and say your not going to have children. Maybe in ten years both members change their mind. They renegotiate in mutual way. If only one does the contract can come to an end because it was what was agreed to in the beginning. Contracts are only as good as the intent of the people who make them.

    “Technicalities aside, marriage has served us well.”

    Really!! You are going to say that publicly and expect us to buy into that lie. And it is a lie. With over half of the marriages ending in divorce that does not bode well alone for marriage. So no you can’t gloss over those technicalities. They are real and substantial and you trying to make something of marriage that it is not is a showing of incredibly poor form. How often are women still in abusive relationships because they don’t believe in divorce? How often are the children the victims of abuse because a spouse won’t leave? How about we go for the simple set up where the couple stays together for the sake of the children? Yeah, that’s always a winner. This above statement by you is reprehensible and I am disgusted by it. So maybe we should all cater to my level of comfort? The difference is I realize that is not going to happen either.

    “We have not served it so well as revealed in high divorce rates, but when marriage is respected and its boundaries obeyed, it is the blueprint for family happiness.”

    You come back with this pitiful disclaimer that acknowledges what you stated earlier was false and unfounded. Let me also clue you in a bit. You don’t respect marriage, you respect your partner. If you respect marriage and not your partner you are not doing a good thing with your relationship. All marriage is, is a identifying title that in some cases comes with a few extra legal recognitions. It isn’t anything more then that. This coming from someone who is married 11 years. The difference is that I love my partner and we have a wonderful relationship including our 11 month old daughter. Making marriage out to be this sacred thing is a form of idolatry. If your relationship works for you great. You don’t get to dictate that for everyone else.

    “Part of the reason is its exclusivity. Marriage is unashamedly exclusive. Not for a man and a bevy of women. Not for a brother and his sister. Not for a person and an animal. Not for a man and a man. It is exclusive to defend those under its protection: children.”

    Won’t someone think of the children?! came forth the cries of the overprotective know it alls. Lets deal with that first. One of the nice things about non traditional relationships is that among same sex couples if they have a kid,you know that kid is wanted. because they have to go outside of the normal route to have children. How many times in traditional marriage did a couple end up with an unwanted child? You point is sorely lacking but lets continue to look at your exclusive marriage.

    According to the bible; Marriage is:
    Gen 20:12 A relationship with your half sister
    Gen 16:3 A relationship with your wife and your maid.
    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 A relationship with the man who raped you.
    1 Chronicles 3:1-9 A relationship with 8 wives and some concubines.
    1 Kings 11:3 A relationship with 700 wives and concubines.

    And before you turn around and say well that is old testament stuff. Remember that the basis the faithful use to decry non traditional marriage is in….. you guessed it the old testament.

    “I’m sorry – this is not an issue of discrimination. That word has been bandied about to knock fear into anyone voicing opposition, to quash the discussion. This is a matter of homosexuals wanting what heterosexuals have. Political correctness gone awol.”

    This statement you made goes to to show you are little more then a bigot and hater. You may voice your opinion all you want. However you are not free of the repercussion of showing your true colors. That being that you are morally reprehensible.

    “So, you’re gay. You are welcome at my table any time. I can open my heart to you, love you like any great friend, I just can’t agree with your lifestyle and your need for a marriage contract.”

    This is a incredible dodge. You can be my friend just don’t want the same things the rest of us want because I don’t like it. You should be apologetic to the people you have insulted and hurt with cruelty and inhumanity.

  13. Thanks for your comments people. Can I put a reminder out there that we CAN have opposing views without resorting to personal attacks. Debate is healthy, and there’s nothing wrong with you disagreeing with my articles. But please keep your hate-filled vitriol to yourself. Some of your posts have not been displayed for this reason – and truth be told, some others are borderline. Let’s respect each other in this. Thanks!

    • Understudy says

      There is no hate on my part. The simple fact is that you are condoning a second class of people and that makes you a bigot. It is amazing how many when confronted with that truth claim it’s a personal attack. But it’s ok to tell gays they can’t marry. You also made statements you know are lies and you got called out on it.Sorry if doing that doesn’t come with warm fuzzies. This isn’t a debate. This is you trying to inflict your view on people because of your religious ideals. Those ideals are poisonous to society and I am not going to say gee that’s ok we will just sit around and talk about it and exchange ideas. You are preaching hate and you want to have a civil discussion on it. I see that as clap trap. So please enjoy your right to free speech as deplorable as your comments are. Don’t expect that others are going to say oh that’s ok please continue you rants against people who might be different from you. All that has to happen is we need to change you post from being about gays to to being about interracial marriage and it’s the same disgusting thing. You just have a different label on it.

      • sptsjunkie says

        Sorry Claire, but understudy is right here. You say to leave out personal attacks, but you want to prevent a group of people from getting equal access to a government contract and the rights that come with it, relegate some people to second class citizenship and call out their “lifestyle” for traits they are born with. That is an extremely personal attack. Far, far worse than being called a bigot. I would be more inclined to agree with you if we were all had access to government marriage contracts and were debating if the government should even be handling such contracts. But claiming others should refrain from saying anything you find personal, while you withhold equal access to government contracts that you personally have access to is very unfair and very personal.

  14. Thanks Claire for this article. I’m quite concerned of the rights of children in this situation, children don’t get a say. But I believe
    It should be a childs right to know their mother and father and to grow up knowing them when possible. It’s important to have a fathers love and a mothers love. Both are different but important, I believe marriage as it is will help value and sustain this. However we are losing the true value and faith in marriage. Also I like how you are not afraid to state your opinion. We all have different views but there is no way we should hate and criticise others for different views, I think in saying that you would treat and love anyone just the same if they were gay or not shows that you love and respect people for whoever they are, just like Jesus did, he allowed anyone to sit across from him at a table and give them time and he still does for those who want to.

      • Mike Kidd says

        Hi Claire,

        I’ve noticed you and other Christian apologists trying to argue that the rights of children have been ignored in the gay marriage debate. You also claim in a response below (August 29, 2:29) that you are interested in children growing up in an “ideal setting”.

        This sounds noble on the surface, and whilst I think it’s going too far to characterise your views (and those of other Christians) on the gay marriage debate as automatically “biggotted”, they are nonetheless breathtakingly hypocritical. Why? Because Christians have faith in the doctrine of original sin, which – in my opinion – ought immediately taint the credibility and moral force of any Christian defence of the rights of children. Do you actually believe that original sin – surely amongst the most damaging and gruesome ideas humans have ever come up with – contributes to an “ideal setting for children to grow up in?” If you do, you are presumably in favour of producing and reproducing guilt, fear, and fault in those who are entirely innocent (i.e., children, infants, unborn babies, etc.), merely on the basis of a myth.

        Surely you can see how inane these sorts of ideas seem to non-believers. They will never accept them on faith alone – so until Christians can come up with some decent arguments that do not rely on Biblical dogma, the conflict in the debate over gay marriage – as well as abortion – will likely continue to be visceral.

    • Tamaresque says

      “It should be a childs right to know their mother and father and to grow up knowing them when possible. It’s important to have a fathers love and a mothers love. Both are different but important, I believe marriage as it is will help value and sustain this.”
      In theory this is a great idea, however in reality, as we all know, it’s just not working. Most of the people on the single-parent pension are divorced or separated women so, already, a lot of children either don’t know or don’t live with their fathers. Marriage hasn’t changed this, in fact it’s getting worse.

      Preventing equal access to marriage will not change this. I also know children raised by gay parents and they are remarkably well-adjusted and well-loved children. Why shouldn’t their parents be able to marry – if they want?
      For myself, I’ve never wanted to marry; I don’t see the point in it when I have had the same rights as a married person simply by co-habiting.

      The point is, these ‘gay’ people are so committed to each other that they WANT to marry; I say, “let them”.

  15. Lilly says

    Do you really think that marriage is only for having children? If that were the case, do you believe that people who are sterile should not be allowed to marry? What about the elderly? Do you believe a postmenopausal woman should be denied the right to marry the man (or woman) she loves?

    • No Lilly, I don’t believe marriage is only for having children at all. But marriage IS the ideal setting for children to grow up in, with both a female and male role model in their parents. And for that reason I support marriage as it stands.

  16. YoungHoon Lee says

    So, I guess according to you, my marriage is invalid since 1) I am Buddhist, and therefore not a Christian as you seem to think marriage is only allowed for, 2) my husband and I have not had kids (marriage according to you is for having children) since I gave up after finding out my tubes won\’t work, and 3) my husband and I are an inter-racial couple (I am Korean, he is Jewish New Yorker) – I bring this up, as you disagree in redefining marriage, so marriage should still be white+white or whatever racial groups you have. This post really offends and hurts me. How has my marriage impacted yours? It hasn\’t. Has our marriage hurt society? Nope. If anything, it has brought about more open-mindedness. It\’s fine to disagree with our marriage, but to say it should not be allowed because of your personal beliefs, well that\’s mixing state and church. At least here in USA, that is frowned upon. I hope this will help you to realize that basically, my marriage with Moishe should not be invalidated because of your personal beliefs, the same way that a gay person\’s marriage should not be invalidated. I understand you are deeply religious, as am I, but oppressing these people because you disagree or just because they are a minority is not the right thing to do. Thank you.

  17. Claire, can I tell you what I’m really uncomfortable with?

    If I’m to disagree with you (and I do), your most desired version of me being respectful is most likely me just shutting my mouth and continuing to live a life oppressed. Agree to disagree, right? (Which is more like you just saying “let’s agree that I’m right and you’re wrong because God Said So and I Know The Love Of God And You Don’t, You Poor, Poor Thing, Let Me Save You). Even if I was willing (and I am) to have a respectful discussion based on common ground (that is, anything outside of the church) and on logic alone, you have your Godly ways to fall back on and say “this is me being respectful, this is me INVITING YOU to sit at my table and I WILL LOVE YOU because that is my Christian duty!” But do you really love me (or anyone) if you ardently desire to prohibit my happiness? When you end your say, your version of being respectful, and the text of what you’re saying is “I don’t like your “lifestyle” but I will love you anyway” (which is difficult to argue with because how are you supposed to argue with the text of “I love you”?) but if I’m being respectful, I’m shutting my mouth and letting myself be “loved” despite my heathen ways. Or I’m not, which turns it around to me and what I’m willing (or not willing) to accept from you and the people who agree with you.

    Gay folks are welcome at your dinner table? You must feel very charitable and Godly and selfless to offer such a generous invitation. You put yourself at a higher and more important standard by making comments like that. If all sins (that is, being a homo, being a murderer, being a wearer of blended textiles, being a huge fan of shellfish, being a Sunday employee, whatever) are equal, would you invite a convicted murderer/sex offender into your home to have dinner with you and your husband and your children? Is protecting your children from a murderer the same thing as protecting your version of marriage? Your marriage can’t be as unshakeable as you’d like it to be if same-sex marriage can affect its strength and its meaning. I’m not being horrible. I wish you a long and happy and strong marriage, because that’s clearly what makes you happy and safe and well. And that’s all that anyone wants, no? Not necessarily to be married, but to be happy and safe and well. One doesn’t necessarily beget the other, but if it does, why shouldn’t everyone have that opportunity?

    And hey. I write too. I know what it’s like to be sitting in the car and go “HEY! METAPHOR! I’m gonna write that down!” But comparing the Tarkine to marriage. Oh boy. OH BOY. I’m just indignant and huffy about that.

  18. Sarah says

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews– and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me. ” Martin Niemoller.
    People need to stand up against “commentary” (and I use that term loosely) that incites hatred and discrimination… Perhaps your next piece of “hard hitting journalism” could be on how “Hitler had the right idea…” or “The Chinese had the right idea with those tanks in the square or the monks in Tibet…?”
    Don’t hide behind “free speech”… you are a homophobe and a bigot. There is a very thin line between free speech and forcing your beliefs on others- it’s called oppression.

  19. What I don’t understand Claire, is how this “redifinition” would hurt you or anyone else not looking to get married to the same sex?
    Your marriage would certainly not get annulled, in fact, it’s a fact that the reason that everyone wants marriage rights is because the recognize the stability and legitimacy of a union like marriage.

    Why do you insist on being exclusionary? Unlike your pitiful rainforest example, once marriage rights are afforded to everyone, they will not affect you in any single way, all that will happen is that people will get the hard earned right to marry whom they love. For your information, blacks were not allowed to marry whites. We changed that law, but that doesn’t mean you have to marry someone other race, it simply affords freedom, a valuable resource in todays world.

  20. Luuk Veltkamp says

    Hi Claire, It seems your article might have hit a nerve and as a result much attention over the last 48 hours. For this debate to continue in a intellectual fashion, I believe it is important for you to publicly address the many point put before you by those who would less then agree with your published position. I believe from my reading of the comments and your responses that you may be, and forgive me for putting it this way, confusing genuine anger and hurt that this article has caused with ” hate-filled vitriol” and seeking the protection of that justification to shelter from the tone and intensity of the collective response.
    Can I ask you to do the right thing and address the genuine positions and questions put forward by the collective response in order to continue this debate. This issue has the potential to divide Christianity in this age, but also has the potential to define Christianity. I ask you to consider a what may seem a weak Christian position of compromise and acknowledge the human aspect of this complex issue, maybe involve yourself in the lives of a gay couple, Involve yourself in the mental health of an individual who feels discriminated against, but most importantly acknowledge the physical and emotional damage that the uncompromising position which you currently represent, inflicts upon the gay community including, not only those who have a respect your written word, but those who find themselves in a vulnerable position in respect to their sexuality.
    The human aspect of this issue is very real and sadly under reported, and I believe that the lives of the people which this issue effects should be put ahead of a right to express an opinion in this case I believe this bears a moral imperative and ask you to consider this in your response.
    Claire, you have taken the burden of this issue and as I believe you have not bitten off more the you can chew, I respectfully ask that you facilitate mature debate, that you not consider a contrary view as an attack and that you acknowledge and respect the human, emotional impact of published opinion upon a minority community and as you have taken the burden of this issue, I ask you, not just as a opinion writer but as a arbitrator of intellectual debate and as a published columnist to consider the collective response and take up the challenge of mediating a mature debate.

    • Hi Luuk,
      I certainly don’t consider contrary views as attack. No – that is more than welcome. I simply haven’t been posting the attacks I referred to as they add nothing to the discussion, I’m sure you would agree. Anyway, there are plenty of those on FB – so if people really want to have a dig, they’re free to do it there!!

      I realise this is a very personal issue – that is, that there are real men and women whose lives are affected by the proposed redefinition of the marriage act. I have no ill will towards them. I would simply ask that they consider what it is they are lobbying for and how it will alter society.

      Most gay and lesbian people would have been brought up in a home with a mum and a dad. No parents are perfect, but should we not endeavour to give each and every child the ideal start in life – that is, with both a mum and dad, a male and female role model? I know that marriage is not solely for procreation, but it is the basis of family and community. From marriage, the rest springs.

      I acknowledge that Christianity has not always handled sexuality well. Probably still has a way to go!! But compromise is not the answer.

      I’m sorry if you or anyone read hate into what I write, because I have none. Love, love, love is the premise of all I write – inspired by Jesus my saviour.

      • Paul says

        Claire, even when presented with a well mannered and respectful query, you STILL provide not a single answer to Luuk. You STILL state that society will ‘alter’, yet provide not an iota of reasoning or fact to back this up. Marriage equality does not affect you in any tangible way; if it affects you in any other way, which it’s obvious you think it will, that’s entirely of your creation. Why the hate, Claire? You say you speak only of love – explain to us how advocating to deny a right to others that you already enjoy is love?

      • I have met plenty of kids over the years (as my mum was a foster-carer) who were ‘bought up in a home with a mum and a dad’ who were better off without them. I’m sure if you asked many of them if they were give ‘the ideal start in life’ they would laugh at you.
        Having a mum and dad doesn’t mean a child is loved and not everyone that is married has children so really its kind of a lax point.
        Look at the rate of children born to unwed parents. Better yet look at the number of kids in the state system, because of married parents who are unable to care for them for whatever reason. A marriage didn’t change the lives of these kids, it didn’t save them from abuse or hurt, marriage didn’t take away their tears.

        Marriage and children and interchangeable subjects, I agree but one can define the other. Gay people marrying each other is not going to affect children, the rate at which children are born, or the way in which children are treated. It might give a few more children in the state system and loving and open home (if adoption is then allowed).

  21. Great article Claire – great to have you using your writing gift in these ways. Know that there are lots of people praying for you and thanking God for you these days.
    Don’t be discouraged!!

    Psalm 25:14-15

  22. tom allen says

    Hi Claire – I note that, in your article, you suggest that marriage has existed unchanged – “the way things have been for a millennia”. But it this simply is not true. Same-sex marriage has occurred around the world, for thousands of years, in a whole variety of cultures and civilisations. Same-sex marriage has also been conducted by the Christian church in early AD Europe. I think your understanding of marriage is based on a false premise. In fact, people have got married in lots of different ways and permutations – including jumping over broomsticks. I am a heterosexual married man and my marriage is no different because gay couples can already get married in Amsterstam or San Francisco. As a Christian isn’t your duty is to love and not to judge? You might like to read some of the material referred to here:
    cheers, Tom

  23. TGMcC says

    Interesting. You state: “this is not an issue of discrimination” but then “This is a matter of homosexuals wanting what heterosexuals have.” Is it not discriminatory to allow marriage for one societal group but not another? Is that not blatant discrimination? And what do you mean by political correctness gone AWOL? This is not an issue of political correctness, this is much more than that, this is about equality, about fairness and about affording the same marriage rights to gay people as are afforded to heterosexuals. This is about expanding the idea and definition of marriage and not about simply redefining it. Gay people aren’t fighting to change marriage laws simply for political correctness! What kind of a short-sighted view of the issue is that? Being politically correct is about minimising offence caused by certain beliefs and ideologies; asking for marriage to be lawful for same-sex couples is not because we are simply offended by the belief and enactment in restricting it to heterosexual couples, it is because it is unjust, unethical and a breach of basic human rights. It is because it is bigoted, discriminatory and offensive. It is because we want to be able to marry the men and women that we love, just as you can; just as we should be able to.

    You’re assessment and interpretation of the issue is (typical for an idealistic, religious viewpoint) feeble, uneducated and inept and – not only that – it is uncalled-for. You’re opinion is certainly welcome in any debate on the issue, as is everyone’s, however when you use the privilege of your column to have it put-to-print, it is reckless to fail to take into account the offence it may cause and it is indeed discriminatory, despite your claim that it is not so.

    Who decided on our (the gay community’s) behalf that it was socially and morally acceptable to voice opinions on the exclusion of a minority, the minority to which we belong, in such an important issue as marriage? If you were arguing against the right of other minorities in our community – such as Muslims or disabled people or the Asian community – to marry when it is lawful for others not part of that minority to do so, your vitriol wouldn’t be published. Who decided that homophobia is socially acceptable when we do not accept racism or sexism any longer? You Claire? You decided that for us all? Your ‘article’ (a term used very loosely) would suggest so. Stick to the god stuff. It’s more your forte.

  24. Dave says

    Hi Claire,

    i’ll start by saying that i am both an atheist and a supporter of same sex marriage. My mother in law has been in a same-sex partnership for 25 years and in my opinion she should be afforded the same legal rights as anyone else that has wholeheartedly chosen to devote her life to one partner. Unfortunately this is not allowed and her family are allowed to challenge her will in a way that would not be the case should she be in a same sex relationship.

    For her marriage is not a religious notion, nor is it one that is designed to protect children. It is a statement to the friends, family and partner that she wishes to be bound for life to one person and to share what she has with that person.

    So my first question is how is this individual example in any way going to impact negatively on society?

    From my perspective there will be only one impact, that my mother in law will have the same rights as anyone else choosing to dedicate their life to another.

    And I have one more, very simple question.

    Can you please tell me where in the Bible same-sex marriage is forbidden?

    I can find references to same-sex relationships being unrighteous and that this disallows homosexuals entry to the kingdom of heaven, but by my reading this also applies to liars, drunkards and kidnappers etc. Is there a direct reference made in the bible to same-sex marriage?

    If not then surely all of the sins that stop people entering heaven should also stop them marrying.

    I look forward to your reply.


    • Mark 10:6-9 defines marriage well – but there are other verses too, most notably those in Genesis.

      “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

      For your other question, I’d suggest you check out the cute little clip here:


      • Understudy says

        Isn’t interesting how the early biblical manuscripts don’t have that part in Mark 10:7 but then again the word of god is unchanging and absolute, right? It is amazing how much cherry picking is done and when it is pointed out how evasive the faithful become. And even if it was, the bible even in the new testament condones slavery. If the bible can be wrong about something as reprehensible as slavery it can be wrong about how it view homosexuality. But then again you do view slavery as wrong, don’t you?

      • Ultimately, who cares how a collection of stone age and bronze age oral myths defined marriage? We live in the 21st century now, Claire.

        Do you really seek to defend marriage as a traditional and immutable religious contract? Are you proposing a return to the religious dogmas that held women as chattel, that required rape victims to marry their rapists, that banned interfaith and interracial marriage, and which accepted polygamy? Or are you willing to admit that marriage has evolved just as our civil and societal understandings of human rights have evolved?

  25. Chris says

    Can anyone explain to me what will change next? I’ve heard Rodney Croome and co say that marriage is the last hurdle to equality, yet yesterday he was saying that once this comes in they will be one step closer to equality… If this is the last step wouldn’t that then make them equal?
    Also, I was under the impression that there was no longer any legal discrimination against same-sex and de facto couples as the laws changed a few years ago, can someone please correct me (nicely!) on this one?
    I’m also concerned with the way laws have been changing in other places where same-sex marriages have been legalised. Birth certificates have been changed to remove references to biological mothers or fathers. I believe a child should have the right to be able to trace their biological parents if they are not known, is that possible when they’ve effectively been erased from history? What about if the child needs to know genetic history?
    Another change that has been happening is forcing ministers to perform same-sex marriages by making it illegal to discriminate against them. Isn’t that akin to forcing someone to do something against their will? If that is their belief, surely they could choose not to perform something they don’t agree with?
    The current marriage act also states that it is for a man and a woman and to the exclusion of all others, if this changes, what is stopping another “redefinition” in 10, 20 or 50 years to either allow multiple partners or animals or even objects. Remembering that if love is the new qualification for marriage that doesn’t have to include sex.

    • Dave says

      Hi Chris,

      the differences are minor at a legal level that is correct. This article covers it pretty well “since July 2009, these relationships are recognised at federal level, providing couples with almost all of the federal rights and benefits of marriage.” Same sex couples cannot adopt a child unless it is a biological child of their partner. The issue is more the ability to challenge a will in court which is seen as easier for family members to do when ther are disputing the will of a person in a same sex relationship.

      Ultimately though, equality cannot be qualified, there is no point being almost equal, and I guess this is what many people do not want to see happen.

      I don’t know the answer to your birth certificates question but i would be very surprised if any law would disallow a child being able to know who their biological parent was. I know that one of the issues facing sperm donation is the fact that as a donor you can be traced so if that is allowed, i would assume that in allother cases it was allowed too.

      Regarding Ministers and legal unions, this is why we have law-makers elected by the people not the church. The laws of this country and made by those individuals given a mandate by the citizens. If the people elect a government and it chooses to enact a law then those affected by that law must adhere to it. However there are a slo laws protecting indivuald in the workplace and i’m sure that people could not be forced into performing a task that they felt overly morally compromised by.

      And lastly, regarding future changes in marriage. Polygamy (multiple wives) is a tough one for Christians and the Bible does send a few mixed messages on it even though attempts have been made to soften the edges in modern translations. Polygamy is actually quite widespread in Australia already and it is likely that as the nation becomes more multicultural there will need to be legal recognition of the legal rights of people with a wide range of beliefs.

      And on the point of animals and objects. I’ll support that when the animal or object can give its consent in front of its peers. Otherwise i’m happy for bestiality to remain illegal for the time being.

      • Chris says

        Thanks Dave for the clarifications and great to have a response where an opposing opinion has felt listened to! Very much appreciated! I also like your other posts in this thread (don’t agree with them all but do appreciate the value they add!
        For the meantime, I’m not going to wait for my cats to give their consent for me, they just seem more interested in sleeping and eating at the moment so I don’t think they’re into a committed relationship at a new level just yet, which to be perfectly honest with, I’m quite happy with. I’d have no idea what to buy them for anniversary presents!

  26. Anon says

    – 1 Timothy 2:12 – I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

    Oh, right. You only like the parts of the bible which benefit you.

  27. dave says

    Putting aside the whole Old vs New Testament debate for a second because I think everyone can cherry-pick from the Old Testament and most Christians see the New Testament as a truer guide. This is logical of course, there were no Christians before Christ 🙂

    It’s pretty clearly spelt out that the Old Testament was to be ignored following the death of Christ.

    “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace. (Ephesians 2:15)”

    In itself that quote says a lot. God made a sacrifice, his son, to unite two very different peoples. God moved on from an old doctrine…

    But letting that one go for now, Jesus said one thing that sums up what all Christians should live by.

    “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)”

    Everything. that is unequivocal. Everything.

    So here is my question:

    Do you want same sex couples to respect your right to marry the person of your choosing?

    If the answer is yes, take another look at Matthew 7:12 and ask yourself what Jesus would do, how would he deal with the contradiction. The contradiction that you want respect from a person you are not prepared to give the same respect to.

    And then maybe think about the sacrifice God made to bring unity and consider sacrificing your opinions about the role of marriage for the greater good; the equality that Jesus has asked you to practice.

    You seem like a nice person Claire and I hope you get some guidance from someone on this one because maintaining divisive opinions will only cause pain. Paul O’Halloran spoke very well as a Christian in parliament today during the debate on the legislation. I think you should read what he had to say and see if you can understand his Christian perspective.

    I understand that is it not always easy being a Christian. Every belief system has it’s complications and that is the true test of a person, whether they can make the hard choices.

    I truly believe that what Jesus meant when he said “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” if it’s okay for you, it is okay for everyone. And yes I think he meant marriage too.

    Dave (the atheist)

    • Thanks Dave – I can truly see where you’re coming from. I’ve asked myself that question: what would Jesus do? Jesus would love, for sure. But without compromise. Like the scene in the temple when he famously threw out the people buying and selling with their chairs and tables set up to market their wares (Matthew 21:12). “Do not make my father’s house a house of trade,” Jesus said. He was angry that something sacred was being sullied. Yes, Jesus is love, but love does not have to compromise.

      I really appreciate your comments Dave and your respect for the topic. We probably won’t agree with each other, but we just might broaden each other’s understanding of the issue 🙂

  28. Fiona Vosper says

    Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality; in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders.
    Homosexuality and bisexuality are stigmatized, and this stigma can have a variety of negative consequences (e.g., Minority Stress) throughout the life span
    (D’Augelli & Patterson, 1995; DiPlacido, 1998; Herek & Garnets, 2007; Meyer, 1995, 2003).

    Gay men, lesbians, and bisexual individuals can live satisfying lives as well as form stable, committed relationships and families that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects (APA, 2005c; Kurdek, 2001, 2003, 2004; Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007).

    There are no empirical studies or peer-reviewed research that support theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma (Bell et al., 1981; Bene, 1965; Freund & Blanchard, 1983; Freund & Pinkava, 1961; Hooker, 1969; McCord et al., 1962; D. K. Peters & Cantrell, 1991; Siegelman, 1974, 1981; Townes et al., 1976).

    Basically, these are some pretty convincing facts. Homosexuality does not rip apart the fabric of society.

    You have an opinion that it will, but you offer no facts. And Jesus doesn’t mention it, at all, so bringing him into always seems strange to me.

  29. John Greally says

    It is true to say that religion in the Western World has been experiencing a decline because – in part – the uneasiness spectrum it’s views butt up against.
    But it is equally true to say that outside the Western World religion is outrageously successful – simply because it multiplies – which of course homosexuals cannot so easily do so.
    The small radical wave of change here may very well be swamped by the massive tsunami from the other 7/10ths of the world.
    The pendulum will not only swing back at that point – it won’t ever be around again to swing anywhere.
    I married into a heterosexual, exclusive, legal, moral covenant. Anyone who arbitrarily goes in for retrospective change to the true nature of that, may yet see me on the beach which torch in hand directing the landing-crafts stacked with huge numbers of non-refugee pendulum swingers.

  30. Well I was set to leave some drawn reply about this but hey, its good to see that there’s a majority out there who have already put all the important points across.

    The only thing that I have to add is quite simple: God did not write the bible. Jesus did not write the bible. People did. And since perception creates our reality, those people have written their interpretation of events as they remember/recall/interpreted them.
    You aren’t quoting God when you quote the bible, you are quoting a person, a real in-the-flesh (at one time), average, HUMAN person.

    You say Jesus lives in your heart. Well I believe God lives in everyone’s heart. God is unconditional love. And unconditional love does not choose, and does not define what is ‘right’ and does not condemn.

    I respect your beliefs, I even respect your right to voice them. I’m not mad, I’m not upset about what you write, because I have faith in my heart that equality and love will prevail in this instance. Without you and others with your viewpoints, the rest of us would never know how hard we can fight and how much faith and belief we have in each other. Oppression is just the darkness that makes our lights shine brighter.

    I suggest you read something like ‘Conversations with God’ by Neale Donald Walsh. He also speaks/spoke directly God or do you not believe that because he’s not in your ‘Bible’ ??

    We can all speak to God…and I think if you took the time to put down the words of others and listen to your heart, you would just find fear.

  31. Skullz says

    I am a happily married woman, and I respect your right to voice your opinion Claire, but please do not claim to represent the opinions of all those who are married.
    I do not support your view, and I think that it is in incredibly poor taste to liken marriage reform to loosing a national park. For one thing the government does not discriminate on who can enjoy the national park.
    Marriage means different things to different people, its not solely for Christians, and has been practiced throughout history in nearly every culture. To me, it means making a public statement about your love, and to make a promise to your partner, in the presence of those who you love and cherish.
    But legally, marriage is just two people signing a piece of paper, linking your assets together predominantly for tax purposes. For me, signing that document also meant that my Canadian husband would not be sent back to Canada, and I would not have to be separated from him.
    It saddens me that there are gay Australian couples that cannot be together because one of them is not an Australian citizen, and though the law is meant to be impartial, it is prejudice towards them.
    Realistically, if there were to be marriage equality, it would in no way threaten the lifestyle of conservative Christian women like you. No one would force Christian celebrants to preform marriage ceremonies for gay couples. Gay couples in Australia practice marriage ceremonies all the time, it’s just that they are not legally recognised.

  32. Wow Claire, this issue really shakes the tree. The assumptions on display [from those who disagree with you] are striking. You’d think your correspondents believed in absolutes or something! One thing that I keep noticing is this suggestion that ‘gay marriage won’t mean the end of civilization’. Of course it won’t. But I do wonder if it is yet another small step further away, from God’s way.

    Fight the good fight, Claire. I’m amazed there is a paper published in Australia with a steady, conservative Christian column. Must be touching a nerve.

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