August 14th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Foreign Minister launches Paul Gray's new book on Islam

EDITORIAL: Australia and the Timor Gap Treaty

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Latham loses lustre as poll looms


RURAL POLICY: Facing up to the farm income crisis

UNITED STATES: Transsexual case and marriage law

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Pakistan and the Islamic N-bomb

POPULATION: 'Gender equality' partly to blame for fertility decline, says UN official

DOCUMENTARY: 'My Foetus' prompts abortion re-think

OPINION: US law professor blasts US court on gay marriage

OPINION: Distributism and capitalism

STRAWS IN THE WIND : Part-timers: pros and cons / Family Law changes / Timor's Labor pain

Latham, Iraq and free trade deal (letter)

Fishermen protest in marginal seats (letter)

Ethanol stand challenged (letter)

BOOKS: The Red Millionaire: Willi Münzenberg, by Sean McMeekin

BOOKS: GETTING ON TRACK: A Business Plan for Australia

BOOKS: Just War Against Terror, by Jean Bethke Elshtain

BOOKS: The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, by Anthony Beevor

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US law professor blasts US court on gay marriage

by John Elsegood

News Weekly, August 14, 2004
Utah law professor Richard Wilkins has defended the traditional role of marriage as a union between a man and a woman and said the move of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's government to enshrine such a union by legislation would serve as a precedent for the United States.

Professor Wilkins, speaking to the Australian Family Association in Perth on June 24, said that conventional morality had been reworked, deconstructed and ridiculed to such an extent that some people were embarrassed by the suggestion of a classical definition of marriage.

Referring to the push to recognise same-sex marriages, he criticised the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court assertion that the "everyday meaning" of marriage is irrational. If that is the case, then society for millennia has shown a lack of judgment by supporting this ancient and consistent practice.


The professor said that one reader of his work, while finding his arguments "interesting," pointed out that traditionalists would be "creamed" in a debate on the subject.

Using cream as his theme, the professor said it was once accepted that this item was essential to make a cream sauce. "But if homosexual advocates - and judges - were creating the recipe, anything other than cream could be used to make a cream sauce," he said.

In the post-modernist cookbook, all ingredients are relative. And because everything is equal, any liquid would do to make a cream sauce. To insist on cream would be to be intolerant. Likewise, any definition of marriage is acceptable because all unions qualify as marriages under the Massachusetts ruling.

In fact in Australia, Tasmanian homosexual activist Rodney Croome has suggested that Cardinal George Pell, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Sydney, was inciting hatred by his defence of traditional marriage. If the call to apply vilification laws for taking an orthodox Christian view of marriage is heeded, then clearly the tinder of a new inquisition is about to be lit, and moral relativism becomes the new order.

Effectively, the Massachusetts high court ruling has followed such a path - denying society the right to argue that heterosexuality has more social usefulness than homosexuality. Why? Because, according to the court, the state may not link marriage and procreation, as doing so "confers an official stamp of approval on the destructive stereotype that same-sex relationships are inherently ... inferior to opposite-sex relationships."

Professor Wilkins argues that this is like denying cooks and consumers their right to insist upon certain ingredients in any given sauce and that those who argue that ketchup is not cream sauce are denigrated as being hopelessly ignorant or intolerant. Yet, unfortunately, the courts are "reconstructing reality" as in Lawrence vs. Texas (the recent sodomy case that provided the basis for the Massachusetts high court redefinition of marriage), in which the US Supreme Court asserted that there is no "long-standing history" condemning homosexual sodomy.

This breathtaking announcement flies in the face of history from both modern and ancient times. Those societies never promoted, or accepted, homosexuality as being the norm, or on a par with marriage, and the decline of Rome and Greece has been widely accepted as being due to a decline in public and private morals by writers as diverse, in time and style, as the satirist Juvenal and the historian Edward Gibbon.

Wilkins claims that before the takeover of "deconstructionists of the language", works of writers over the centuries (from Italian historian Giambattista Vico in 1725 through to British anthropologist J.D. Unwin last century) revealed that traditional marriage was an essential characteristic of society. Says Wilkins: "There is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence."

Implicitly Wilkins argues, rightly, that if society is unable to question the huge numbers of sexual partners among homosexuals, their high rate of physical and mental health problems and the undeniable link between male homosexuality and paedophilia, then we surrender our civilisation and history to post-modernist fads, lacking in facts and credibility.

As Wilkins would say, "Marriage is not just another sauce," and just as real cream is needed to make cream sauce, so too the ingredients of a real marriage are a man and a woman - despite the manic, and maniacal, attempts by judicial and social activists to "cook the books."

  • John Elsegood is a writer and political commentator living in Perth, WA. This piece first appeared in United Press International's "Outside View".

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