Greens v Catholics: this just got interesting

So hang on, a Greens candidate is taking the Catholic Bishops to court for explaining to Catholics what Catholics believe about marriage.

Well this just got interesting.

Tasmanian Greens candidate Martine Delaney has complained to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner about the Catholic Bishops writing a booklet supporting traditional marriage (titled “Don’t Mess With Marriage” – bam! Can anyone argue against such awesome alliteration?). The booklet was distributed to parents of Catholics school kiddies to try to explain what Catholics think marriage is all about.

The shock here appears to be that there are Catholics left who actually believe all that Catholic stuff (who knew!). Like that marriage has something to do with family. And that humans have equal dignity whether they’re married or not. And that we should respect those who disagree.

Weird, right?

No. Not just weird. Worse than weird. Offensive and Humiliating.

Ms Delaney she says she felt humiliated by the booklet, and wants the Catholics to apologise and tell their Catholic parents to tell their Catholic kiddies that they were wrong and marriage isn’t about their Catholic God and their Catholic Families and all those other Catholic thingies after all.

Now I didn’t receive a copy of this booklet. Because I’m not a Catholic. But a Catholic friend of mine sent it to me a while back and I flipped through it for myself: apart from its insipid stock photos I didn’t notice anything that struck me as requiring immediate booklet burning (booklet burning sounds so much more cute than book burning – I picture a tiny little fire with a moderately angry mob politely ripping copies from the arms of moderately pissed off dissenters). Some of it made sense, some of it I didn’t like – and as a Protestant myself this was mildly reassuring on both counts.

So, what have those naughty Catholics done this time to get themselves in so much heat? It’s not the way they said it, it’s what they think. While Ms Delaney admits their little booklet pays lip service to respecting same sex couples, she still thinks the ideas in it are nasty. Which incidentally is exactly what she has previously said is her problem with The Marriage Act. Full of non equality nastiness. But because you can’t sue an Act of Parliament for having Nasty Thoughts it seems that she’s had to settle for the Catholic Bishops.

Now, again, I’m a Protestant. So the idea of suing Catholics for thinking Catholic thoughts is inherently appealing. Better still, the idea of the government telling the Catholic Church what it can and can’t teach fills me with all sorts of creative ideas. (It’s taking all my will power right now not to put on my Luther hat and start marching around my apartment singing Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.)

However it does strike me as a little bit unfortunate timing – we are, after all, still technically meant to be debating whether Marriage should be changed. So to punish people for explaining why they like it quite a lot the way it is seems a little premature. (No, no no, comrades, we talked about this, we wait until after the revolution to punish our opponents.) Even John Milton thought you should allow Catholics to publish their ideas … easier to round them all up afterwards that way.

At least then we can give some sort of assurances to our future children that we had a grown up talk about all this before, you know, completely changing the bedrock institution of our society.

Most of the people who I know who support gay marriage cannot understand how anyone could possibly think otherwise. Call me an Arts graduate, but sometimes it helps when you let people who disagree with you explain themselves, without taking them to court. At least it makes for a longer conversation.

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