On the Saturday night after the voting booths were closed, I watched the reaction of Bob Brown, leader of the Greens, on TV as he retained his seat. I also saw our MP, Kevin Rudd (who had until recently been Prime Minister) retain his seat with a convincing margin. Faced with the prospect of Mr. Rudd’s Labor Party negotiating with the Greens, I wrote to Mr. Rudd on 22 August 2010. On 26 October 2010, I received a reply from Mr. Rudd’s office. My letter and Mr. Rudd’s replies are reproduced below, though I have removed postal addresses, email addresses and phone numbers out of courtesy.
Letter to Kevin Rudd, 22 August 2010.
Kevin Rudd, MP
Congratulations on your re-election in my constituency of Griffith.
In watching the results come in these last 24 hours, it seems that whoever forms our next government will have to enter into some sort of deal with the minor parties, including the Greens. I would like to take this opportunity to let you know my reaction this prospect but, as I hope to explain, my concerns remain whether this particular circumstance eventuates or not.
The Greens, I think, have a valid message in the sphere of climate and environment. I am a professional civil engineer, specializing in flooding and drainage and my particular concerns in this area are to do with planning for climate change, particularly its potential impacts on increased flood risks to coastal infrastructure. Like the Greens, I am concerned to preserve and best manage our natural heritage because, whichever way you look at it, our well-being is sustained by our natural environment. Last night Bob Brown said that as a general rule, what’s good for our grandchildren is good for us, and I agree.
However, Bob Brown also promised to continue to campaign for same-sex marriage, and this is where we part ways. In part, my reason for writing to you is because I feel that I, and those who share my convictions, appear to be increasingly silenced and demonized as homophobic. I wonder how long I have remaining to raise my concerns and objections to same-sex marriage without being stigmatized, and that should be a concern to those of you who support parliamentary democracy.
My reluctance towards same-sex marriage does not, I sincerely hope, arise from a desire to deny happiness and a sense of fulfillment to same-sex couples. Further, I refuse to discuss sex and sexuality in any context that regards persons with differing sexual orientations as anything less than human beings. This leaves me at a disadvantage, however, because the pioneers of same-sex marriage can project an image of themselves striding confidently into the 21st Century with a revolutionary vision of great value, leaving me with the circumspective and undeniably boring sound-byte of “no it’s not”.
I could appeal to the thousands of years of human wisdom relating to family and home that the pioneers of same-sex marriage look set to jettison, but that’s unlikely to appeal to them. Instead, I ask that we look forward to the potential consequences and what effect, as Bob Brown suggests, this will have on our grand children.
These consequences, I suggest, relate to the deconstruction of marriage as a coherent social entity and it’s reconstruction as a contract between private individuals. The question I ask is, if we allow this to play out to its ultimate conclusion, what will we be left with? I suggest that we will be left with something that’s virtually indistinguishable from current de-facto and living-together relationships and, if this is case, what’s the point of legislating for it? To me, it’s rather like buying the lease for a coal-mine and building wind-farms on the land instead of mining it. It’s a dog in the manger.
What business is it of mine to object? I fully respect a couple’s prerogative to exclude my intrusion into its private life and to tell me that it’s none of my business. However, by bringing that relationship under the auspices of marriage, that couple necessarily brings its relationship into the public sphere, and in doing so, it implicitly seeks my approval, my validation and my affirmation of its relationship. In the case of same-sex couples, this is something I feel I would be unable to give. If I were put in a position in which I were forced to either express my endorsement of the relationship or shut up, then I would have to question my rights.
The Greens have successfully positioned themselves as the intelligent, progressive choice. The pioneers of same-sex marriage have successfully generated a sense of inevitability about their cause. Their positioning has given them the advantage of being able to dismiss people like me as unintelligent, regressive and resistant to moving forward. They may be right but, to borrow a phrase from the gay rights movement, this is who I am and why can’t they simply accept it? It seems to me that there is a clash of rights. If we cannot have a win-win situation, then we need to think carefully about whose rights we decide to deny.
There are other important and solemn issues to consider in government, of course. However, the advocacy of same-sex marriage is one way to lose my vote.
Letter to Martin Jacobs, 26 October 2010.
Dear Mr Jacobs
Thank you for contacting Kevin with your policy suggestions. I note your specific reference to same-sex marriage policies.
Kevin appreciates you taking the time to share your feedback.
Community views are of critical importance to the Government when forming its policies and your views will be taken into account in relation to this process.
If there are any other federal government matters with which Kevin may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact his Electorate Office on [phone number and email provided]
Amy Cooper, Constituent Officer
The Honourable Kevin Rudd MP
Federal Member for Griffith