Why All the Semantics?

I just read a post about the SCOTUS ruling and the “love wins” mantra. The blogger, who is of the LDS faith (Mormon), argues that the mantra should be “tolerance wins’, arguing that not all opponents against same – sex marriage are haters.

Last Sunday on “The Bolt Report”, columnist Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt were talking about the term “marriage equality” instead of “same – sex marriage” being used in the media. Devine even went as far as saying that you’d think marriage equality meant the equality between a heterosexual couple.

Are we seriously going to resort to wordplay in the same – sex marriage/ marriage equality debate? Is that what the argument is going to be about for the next two years or so? I really want to put a perspective on both of these with respect to those who disagree.

Firstly, marriage equality versus same – sex marriage: for those who read this blog, you’ll have noticed that I use the term “same – sex marriage” as opposed to “marriage equality” or “gay marriage”. The reason for the first one is probably habit. The second reason is because when addressing the issue, I’m usually talking about more than just gays and lesbians. I’m usually talking about others who are, or who are likely to be in same – sex relationships: homoromantic asexuals, bi – romantic asexuals, pan – romantic asexuals, pansexuals, etc. There are arguments that “gay marriage” is exclusionary and erases the people I just mentioned. So they’re my reasons.

Secondly, the “love wins”. It was a popular mantra both at rallies and on social media when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), ruled in favour of legalising same – sex marriage across all 50 states on June 26, 2015. The reason? I think it was because now under US law, same – sex relationships were legally treated the same as any heterosexual/ opposite – sex relationship. Love won because they were now considered equal under the law. Keep in mind that in America, the states that didn’t legalise same – sex marriage, or prohibited it, legally, same – sex couples were denied numerous rights often attributed to opposite – sex married couples.

The Obgerfell vs. Hodges case was about Jim Obgerfell, from Ohio, who, when his partner, John Arthur died in 2013, Obgerfell was not legally recognised as his spouse and therefore, he wasn’t afforded widower rights after Arthur died. In the US, stories surrounding medical decisions came with the same sort of result. Same – sex partners were not given the right to have a say about what happened to their own partner medically because they weren’t deemed family under the law. The rights went to the blood relatives of the person in hospital, leaving the partner out.

Under American law, same – sex couples were refused over a thousand rights given to opposite sex married couples. These included social security, illness (as described above), death, etc. They literally weren’t treated equally under the law in many ways, particularly in states that had the “Defence of the Marriage Act” (DOMA) status. This was also condemned as unconstitutional about two yeas ago (can’t remember exactly when, but I do remember hearing about it).

Under Australian law, if same – sex marriage is legalised, the changes won’t be so dramatic, at least in a legal sense. The Gillard Government amended Centrelink and other laws to assure that same – sex couples are attributed the same legal and financial rights as both married and  opposite sex de – facto couples. The big talking point about the legalisation of same – sex marriage in Australia is the issues of adoption, IVF and surrogacy. The laws in each state is different. To my knowledge, New South Wales permits IVF to lesbian couples as well as single women, although, in South Australia, such fertility treatment is only afforded to medically infertile married opposite – sex couples. Not sure about the other states and frankly, too slack at the moment to look them up. Before the last state election in Victoria, Daniel Andrews reportedly did talk about extending IVF to lesbians and single women, but I’m not sure if that’s gone through or what.

So, back to the terms. Does it matter? Like I indicated at the start of the post, I think it’s just semantics. But what do you think?

Also, feel free to add your knowledge about current Australian laws surrounding IVF, surrogacy and adoption that you know and feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken.

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2 comments on “Why All the Semantics?

  1. I use “equal marriage”. To me, it is an equality issue: other relationships being worth as much as straight relationships, other people being worth as much as straight people, everyone recognising that. The marriage I went to last year was a marriage, not a “gay marriage”. So the language is important: people who want to use the term “gay marriage” want to say our relationships are lesser, and should not be equal.

    How you frame the debate changes the debate.

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