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The postal survey is both bizarre and typical in the history of Western marriage

Timothy Jones writes in The Conversation (8.9.17) that changes to marriage laws around the world have, historically, met with strident opposition, so it's no surprise that same-sex marriage in Australia has had its own tough road to tread.

'The High Court’s decision to allow exceptional government spending on the marriage postal survey makes way for the latest bizarre, but typical, episode in the history of political responses to changing social attitudes to marriage.

'The voluntary postal survey is unique and bizarre, in that no government has yet conducted such a statistically unreliable exercise in gauging public opinion on a contentious social issue. Yet it is typical, in that political responses to social change in areas of sex and morality are usually slow, fiercely contested, ideologically confused, but nonetheless important.

'The slow and strange political processes in Australia over the political recognition of same-sex marriages are actually typical of those around the world. The legislative histories of many previous changes to marriage law have been far longer and more drawn out than the recognition of same-sex marriage in Australia is likely to be.

'… As the postal survey goes ahead, we can expect to see more of these novel arguments from the “no” campaign. But it’s important to remember that legal change around marriage is historically slow, and that this debate is not about religious values, but community values. Specifically, it is about how we value LGBTI people, their relationships, and their families.'

 

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