Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ms Horin on the unintended consequences of achieving 'gay rights'


Ms Adele Horin had an opinion piece in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herod on what I regard as a piece of poetic justice: namely, the fact that, as a result of “the recent passage of historic legislation to remove discrimination against gay and lesbian couples from dozens of laws”, so-called same-sex de facto married couples will incur the penalty of having their welfare benefits reduced from two times a single person’s benefit to one times a couple’s benefits (where the sum of two singles’ benefits exceeds a couple’s benefit, thus putting them at a relative disadvantage). Ms Horin reports that

The Government's much-lauded same-sex reforms, ironically, have continued the tradition of treating gays differently from heterosexuals. Every significant change to social security laws passed in the last 15 years has included a "grandfather" clause to minimise harsh consequences for those already in the system. Legal changes arising from the recognition of women's equality, for example, were introduced in a way that protected an older generation.

The changes to the age pension that raised the qualifying age for women from 60 to 65 were introduced gradually over a period of 20 years. The wife pension, which enabled younger women married to pensioners to also qualify for a pension, was abolished in 1995 but recipients of the time were protected. Changes to the widow pension and other entitlements were grandfathered. But no grandfather clause has been included in the social security changes that extend equal treatment to gay couples.

As a result, human rights progress for many gays and lesbians will come at a cost to those who can ill afford to bear financial losses - those whose retirement plans, and very relationships, were predicated on certain long-term expectations.
So the question is: were these couples justified in having these expectations? And the answer is a resounding: no, of course not, since these expectations involved the presumption of a financial benefit over and above that payed to the very couples whose status they craved and have been striving for some thirty years to obtain. The examples that Ms Horin adduces are, in fact, invalid comparisons because they involve a category mistake—they are comparisons of apples and oranges. That is, the case, say, of raising a woman’s pension age from sixty to sixty-five without ‘grandfathering’ would involve a transition from a position of mere sufficiency (i.e. enjoying a welfare benefit that is calculated to cover a modest standard of living) to a position of absolute disadvantage (no longer being able to afford that standard of living). On the other hand, the case of two sodomites living as (or rather, impersonating) a married couple involves a transition from a position of both absolute and relative advantage (since they are receiving benefits whose total exceeds the level that the government calculates is necessary to support a couple) to a position of sufficiency. If anything, these sodomites ought to be grateful that the government does not try to recoup the differential between two singles’ benefits and one couple’s benefits that the sodomites had been claiming all those years. Instead they have the gall to complain about being put on the same financial level as the de facto married couples with which they were so stridently demanding equality! The sheer cynicism of the Sodomites’ League and its contempt for others is simply stunning.

The weakness of Ms Horin’s case is implicit in the emotionally-charged case studies that she offers. In the first one we have

A pioneer in the gay liberation movement, she had stayed at the school for 30 years despite the low pay, believing a mainstream school would have sacked her over her political activism. Her partner had been dismissed after having "come out" to her religious employer. The dismissal was lawful because of the religious exemption to the anti-discrimination laws.
But what does her involvement in the ‘gay liberation’ (!!!!!!) movement have to do with anything? And what does the grounds for the other woman’s dismissal have to do with anything either?

Then in the second case study we have

Another woman, with her children, had left a violent husband and had lived with her female partner for 30 years.
What does a violent husband have to do with anything? All this is nothing but an appeal to emotion by Ms Horin when logic and justice are against her.

Then Ms Horin notes that

If couples desist, Centrelink may come sniffing around. Among the questions to be asked of couples in their 70s and 80s is whether they have sex. It is part of the battery used to determine whether people are living as an interdependent couple but claiming benefits as singles. Couples don't have to be having sex or sharing a bedroom - or to have lived together for two years - to be considered de factos. Centrelink has a record for zealous, even brutal, investigations of suspected "marriage-like" relationships among elderly heterosexuals. Now the Welfare Rights Centre is gearing up for a barrage of distressed and offended callers from the gay community.
So the gay couples are being treated exactly the same as heterosexual couples, and they find this ‘distressing’ and ‘offensive’?! Perhaps the ‘gay liberation’ movement needs to evaluate whether ‘gay liberation’ was such a good idea after all.

And I found Ms Horin’s second-last paragraph quite rich:

As the drawbacks filter through, many in the gay community are angry, calling those who lobbied so heavily for the changes "bourgeois" and uncaring of the impact on the most disadvantaged.
I for one think that it’s high time we re-popularised the use of the word ‘bourgeois’ as an insult! Let’s all go around speaking like university students from 1968! Sodomites of all nations, unite! Continuing with this Marxist terminology, though, I might recommend that the gay ‘proletariet’ keep a closer eye on the gay ‘intelligentsia’; what with friends like these reducing their financial benefits it hardly needs enemies.

And as a little footnote I might add that in Professor John S. Croucher’s ‘NumberCrunch’ column in the same day’s Herald’s Good Weekend magazine he writes:

Number of same-sex de facto couples in Australia: about 27,000; as a proportion of all de facto couples: about 3.4 per cent
And of course if we keep in mind the fact that formally married couples would greatly exceed the number of de facto married couples it would not surprise me if the proportion of so-called same-sex de facto married couples in the total combined de jure and de facto married couples figure was not even one per cent.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
9.XII.2008 A.D.

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