To Obey but not to Honour
On Tuesday, the 7th of November the polls will close on what I have no doubt history will judge to be a significant turning point in the social history of Australia – I refer of course to the plebiscite concerning the redefinition of the Marriage Act.
Many Australians have, for a number of reasons, expressed strong criticism of the plebiscite. These have expressed the view that our elected parliamentarians should have dealt with the matter in a cheaper and more efficacious way in parliament. I have strongly disagreed with this view, arguing that this is matter too important to be left to our political classes and that all Australians should be allowed their say.
At least Australia, like Ireland, has now dealt with the mater democratically. I have had my wish and have had my say. For reasons of common sense and morality it is a subject upon which I feel deeply and, if the opinion polls are correct, I am going to have to accept that my position on the matter is a minority one. So be it. Should this likely be the case I shall accept it with sadness as being ‘done and dusted’ so to speak.
I will accept it as a new law which I am obliged to obey. This I will do without recusancy, rancour and agitation. I will however point out that the passage of the expected legislation amply proves my long held view, firmly argued previously on this site and elsewhere, that politics is not the arbiter of morality. There remains a clear distinction between social mores, political decision making and moral rectitude.
It will remain my view that any amendment to the Marriage Act to accommodate homosexual marriage is a morally flawed amendment and, although obliged to legally accept and obey it, I am not obliged to agree with it.
Indeed, I reserve my right to disagree with it; to peaceably air my views on the matter and to join like-minded fellows in peaceable discourse on the subject.
This question highlights the point yet again that legislation might be popular but not necessarily moral. Indeed, history abounds with examples popular causes that have been far from moral!
I think it appropriate to conclude with a quote from my forthcoming book, The Package Deal:
“You can’t put too much faith in a political party. A ‘political party’ will give you a ‘political solution’ to a political question. And a political solution is, by definition, based on compromise. …. You can’t legislate goodness. An Act of Parliament does not make a man good; it merely prevents him, hopefully, from being bad. Goodness can only be taught by example, and in a sense it’s unfair to expect politicians to concern themselves with such arcane matters, because they haven’t the capacity to understand.”