There was a recent discussion on Signposts02 about whether the homosexual lobbyists had an agenda. It was generally suggested by the liberal voices that they did not.
This, of course would mean that their decision making processes are random an uncoordinated, which isn’t really borne out by the evidence.
The lobbyists are, in fact, very well organised in a defined collaboration. As God once said about men who had a will opposed to His own, ‘since they are unified, there is nothing they may not accomplish’, and this is true of gay and lesbian activism for at least the last two or three decades, as pointed out by Kevin Donnelly in an article in the ABC’s Drum Opinion pages, which I reproduce in full for your commentary:
Marriage equality: secrets behind a successful campaign.
Dennis Altman, in a comment piece for yesterday’s The Age in response to the ALP conference’s decision on gay marriage writes:
“The campaign for marriage equality, largely run by younger women and men, not all of them gay, is one of the most successful examples of effective lobbying in Australia over the past few decades.”
Altman is correct. The questions social conservatives need to ask, though, are why has the cultural-left been so successful in shaping the public debate and why have we reached a stage where many expect that the Australian Parliament, in the near future, will radically redefine the definition of marriage?
One of the key strategies used by the left in the culture wars is to take a medium to long-term view and to embark on what the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci describes as the long march through the institutions. Beginning in the late ’60s and early ’70s, institutions like schools and universities, churches, government bureaucracies, political organisations and media outlets were targeted as key sites in the battle of ideology and ideas.
One only needs to look at universities, in Australia and the US, where the majority of academics describe themselves as left-of-centre and most journalists and reporters are happy to espouse politically correct causes to realise how successful the left has been.
A second strategy employed by the cultural-left is to define once-accepted practices and ideas as obsolete, socially unjust, inequitable and ripe for change.
Radical feminists argue that traditional forms of marriage institutionalise rape, education is defined as an instrument used by the ruling class to exploit and marginalise the dispossessed, Christianity is described as irrational and based on superstition and Western civilisation is attacked for being exploitive, eurocentric and elitist.
As noted by George Orwell, language is a powerful weapon in the battle of ideas and it is here that the cultural-left has also been successful. Whereas the ability to discriminate was once considered a worthy attribute, to be guilty of discrimination is now a crime. To be conservative, on the basis that there are some things from the past that are worthwhile holding on to, is to be old-fashioned, out of touch and guilty of continuing past injustices.
Those critical of feminism are labelled as misogynist, those who view gay/lesbian practices as unacceptable are condemned as homophobic and anyone championing the traditional form of marriage based on heterosexuality is guilty of discrimination and failing to respect the rights of others. It’s no accident that homosexuals and lesbians have co-opted the word gay to describe what many consider an unnatural lifestyle.
Gender politics provides a compelling example of how the cultural-left has managed to win the culture wars and radically redefine once accepted practices and social mores. In relation to gays and lesbians, even though one Australian survey suggested that only 1.6 per cent of men and 0.8 per cent of women identify as gay/lesbian, activists have been successful in presenting such relationships as increasingly widespread and normal.
Since the late ’80s and early ’90s groups like the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Australian Association for the Teachers of English (AATE) have ensured that the nation’s classroom and the school curriculum enforce a cultural-left view of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) issues.
The AEU’s policy is that lessons about GLBT life-styles and issues must be “positive in its approach” and that the “sexual orientation and/or gender-preferred identity of individual teachers should not be a factor in determining which teachers are able to teach sex, health or human biology education”.
At AATE conferences and in journals over the years English teachers have been told that they should help children recognise the “various ways in which gender categories are tied to an oppressive binary structure for organising the social and cultural practices of adolescent boys and girls”, use the classroom to explore “alternative versions of masculinity” and “recognise that gender is a social construction organised upon unequal power relations which define and limit opportunities”.
Such has been the cultural-left’s success in relation to gender issues that the so-called Melbourne Declaration, the blue print for Australian school education, argues that all school sectors, faith based, independent and government, must provide an education free of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
A strict interpretation of the Melbourne Declaration is that religious schools will lose the freedom they currently have to discriminate in relation to who they enrol and who they employ. One also expects that the proposed national curriculum, in areas like health, will enforce a positive view of GLBT issues.
Currently, school programs like Victoria’s ‘Supporting Sexual Diversity in Schools’ and the NSW ‘Proud Schools’ are being funded to fight against homophobia and transphobia on the basis that children must be taught to celebrate diversity and difference and that all forms of sexual identity must be equally valued.
To return to last weekend’s ALP conference. The battle over the meaning of the word marriage provides a good example of Orwell’s belief that how we use language defines who and what we are and the type of society we live in. The Shorter Oxford dictionary defines marriage as firstly, “The relation between married persons; wedlock” and, secondly, “The action, or an act, of marrying; the ceremony by which two persons are made husband and wife”.
Even though it is increasingly common for homosexuals and lesbians to have the right to a civil union, thus, having the same rights as married people, such is not enough. By changing the definition of marriage activists not only want to radically redefine the meaning of the word so that it becomes unrecognisable – which raises the problem that if marriage is now to include gays and lesbians, what right do we have to exclude bisexual and transgender people?
Homosexual and lesbian activists are also seeking to gain the same type of respect and acceptance reserved for marriages involving heterosexual couples, something, by definition, that they currently lack.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is Director of Melbourne-based Education Standards Institute.
(‘Signpostsfree’ is a name Steve blogged under for a short time after Lance spat the dummy and kicked him off the roll.)