Family First Senator and marriage equality opponent Bob Day on Friday hit out at same-sex marriage, saying that most gay men in relationships are unfaithful to their partners.
During the second reading of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill, the Senator for South Australia started his speech calling it ‘shameful that activists for marriage equality assume that opponents must be bigots.’
He rhetorically asked the chamber why not allow three people to marry if same-sex marriage is to be legalized.
‘If this bill seeks marriage equality, what is it trying to protect equally? What relationships then are not marriages? Why would redefining marriage stop at same-sex relationships? The bill talks about two people, but why not three?’
The chairman of the Family First Party further quoted gay sex columnist Dan Savage and gay Australian academic and activist Dennis Altman as saying that gay men are typically ‘unfaithful’ and that having one partner to be ‘unrealistic and unnatural’.
‘In places where gay people, typically men, have been able to form recognized unions, they do not necessarily equate their commitment to monogamy,’ Day said as recorded on the Hansard.
‘The term “monogamish”—monogamy as a kind of “monogamish”—has now been coined, a sort of “open marriage”—a tautology if ever I heard one in this brave new world—as they feel a restriction to one partner is unrealistic and unnatural,’ Day quoted Dan Savage who is said to have coined the term to mean allowing occasional infidelities in one’s otherwise committed relationship.
He further quoted Altman as saying while on a panel of gay authors at the 2012 Sydney Writers’ Festival, ‘Now I am going to speak as a gay man: one of the things about gay male culture is that it is not a monogamous culture. All the evidence we have suggests that monogamy is a myth. There are many longstanding gay relationships. There are virtually no longstanding monogamous gay relationships.’
Altman has himself attacked the marriage equality movement saying it further marginalizes LGBTI people who are not in long term relationships.
He wrote in an essay published in 2011, ‘There are many models of long lasting same-sex couples who thrived in the absence of marriage. Surely it is more useful to offer a range of possible ways of living one‟s life than to buy into the myth of monogamous marriage, whose record is generally not inspiring.’
‘Moreover the constant stress on marriage as the ultimate test of gay equality risks making invisible those homosexuals who either do not want, or cannot find, a long term relationship. There is an extensive feminist literature on the ways in which women are restricted by the emphasis on seeking a husband to the exclusion of all else. It would be ironic if the lesbian and gay movement forgot these warnings, and reified marriage as the only acceptable way of living one‟s life. Yet as Gore Vidal once said, the only people left who believe in marriage are homosexuals, and who am I to deny them that pleasure?’
He concedes: ‘(W)hatever my own reservations I applaud those who are pushing for legalization. Indeed the strongest argument is one I have rarely heard, namely that as marriage, as distinct from civil unions, is essentially based on religious beliefs it is discriminatory for a secular society to restrict marriage between two adults of the same sex.’
The Senate debated same-sex marriage this week but did not vote on the issue.