Comments in the Senate by hard-right Liberal Cory Bernardi — suggesting a direct causal link from gay relationships to sex between human beings and animals — have rightly and correctly resulted in his sacking from the Coalition frontbench. The Red And The Blue heartily endorses his dismissal.
The ongoing debate over gay marriage — and whether to legislate in favour of it — is a labyrinth of differing positions and viewpoints, interwoven with personal friendships and relationships, political considerations, and social outcomes, and one which largely transcends orthodox lines of demarcation such as Left vs Right, or Labor vs Liberal.
Whilst I am not gay and am known for conservative views, I oppose gay marriage — because, as I have opined in the past, I think the gay community has enough bright, creative people in its ranks to come up with an equivalent institution of their own, rather than seeking to second an institution that is quintessentially heterosexual as defined in its history, tradition, convention, and its basis in religious lore.
And marriage, at its very genesis (no pun intended) is a religious institution across many faiths, not a modern societal or legal one.
It is true that the conservative in me opposes gay marriage; yet the liberal in me (in the true sense of the word, not the political sense) takes the view that gay people can do whatever they like between themselves in the privacy of their own company so long as it doesn’t adversely affect anyone else — which, by the way, is pretty much the way all of us should conduct our personal affairs, whether straight or gay.
My position on this issue probably puts me somewhere in the middle of those who are absolutely dead against the legislation of gay marriage and those who are ardently in favour of that change being legislated.
I wanted to restate my position on this tonight because — whether you agree with it or not — it is a reasoned one.
And I think that generally, most people who have participated in the gay marriage debate — in Parliament, the mainstream media, in independent opinion instruments such as this column, or around the barbeque or kitchen table — equally have views that are reasoned out; whether they concur with mine or not, I think most people have at least paid the subject the courtesy of giving it some thought.
Yes, there are religious conservatives and rednecks with an outright opposition to the right; there are others at the opposite end of the spectrum using Leftist blackmail (“you support this or you’re a bigot,” or silly, focus-group slogans like “equal love”) to push their case.
But until Tuesday, I wasn’t aware of anyone advocating a position that legislating gay marriage could lead to lawful sexual relations between humans and animals.
Enter Senator Cory Bernardi.
In the interests of clarity, I reprint here his remarks to the Senate debate as quoted in The Australian:
“The next step …(if gay marriage is legalised) is having three people that love each other be able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society, or four people.
“There are even some creepy people out there who say that it’s OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?
“In the future, will we say, ‘These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union?’ “
I’m going to be blunt about this:
- The debate about gay marriage has nothing to do with polygamy.
- The debate about gay marriage has nothing to do with sex with animals.
- Senator Bernardi’s remarks are a disgusting attempt to divert the debate about gay marriage down a filthy tangent designed to morally revolt and shock.
- Senator Bernardi’s remarks are not worthy of an adolescent school debate let alone be uttered in the Houses of the country’s Parliament.
- Senator Bernardi’s remarks are an affront to gay people and those who favour gay marriage and to those opposed but nonetheless engaged in the debate in good faith.
Claiming that various reports “had not taken into account the full context of his remarks” — a variation, to be sure, on the proven, guilt-tinged defence of being “misquoted” — Bernardi apparently remains unrepentant; refusing to apologise, and refusing to acknowledge what everyone else can see as a repugnance.
The consideration of the actual issue aside, Bernardi’s outburst — essentially repeated yesterday morning in a radio interview — raises political considerations as well.
He has defied party room instructions not to inflame the debate over gay marriage; the latest in a litany of ill-advised and incendiary outbursts over the course of his Senatorial career.
He has, by virtue of this grotesque overreach, enraged more moderate Liberals such as Malcolm Turnbull, who favour the legalisation of gay marriage but who voted against it in accordance with the published policy of the Coalition.
And he has created additional problems for Liberal leader Tony Abbott at a time when the Coalition has performed badly for a couple of weeks — partially reflected in some recent opinion polling — and compounded by a rare outbreak of ill-discipline in Coalition ranks under Abbott’s leadership.
To his credit, Abbott has been unconditional in his statements that what Bernardi has done is completely unacceptable.
We could discuss this at greater length in terms of the political repercussions and the fallout on a wider basis but that really isn’t the purpose of tonight’s article.
Clearly, Bernardi’s comments to the Senate debate merit no further consideration; we can treat these with the contempt they deserve, and ignore them.
And quite clearly, Senator Bernardi has outlived any real usefulness he may have had politically, as a Senator and lawmaker, and is of no further value to the Liberal Party in any conceivable sense.
Abbott — historically a factional ally of Bernardi’s — has stamped the papers of the latter, dismissing him from his frontbench; it is to be hoped the party’s preselectors in South Australia give consideration to completing the job, and removing Bernardi from their Senate ticket.
For now, however, Bernardi has been told — in no uncertain terms — to bugger off.
And, on balance, quite rightly so.