With the two words "I do", Warren McGaw and Chris Rumble made history yesterday when they participated in Australia's first legally recognised same-sex civil ceremony in Canberra.
The road to their union was paved when the Australian Capital Territory's Government, which legalised single-sex relationships in May last year, recently passed amendments that made the ceremonies legally binding.
The Federal Government has flagged it will suggest changes to the Act, which would effectively gut its intent.
The local Catholic Archbishop weighed in a few days ago, claiming the Act undermines marriage and imposes the views of a minority on the rest of us.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell rightly said the Archbishop's views were intolerable in a democratic society and the church was supporting discrimination against gays (just as, I might add, are his federal Labor counterparts.)
This got me thinking about the role of the church in society and how it has changed over the millennia.
The rise of capitalism saw the bourgeoisie usurp the state power of the Christian (often Catholic) church.
The response of the church hierarchy as it was sidelined was, among other things, to attempt to retain vestiges of its power through an even greater emphasis on answers to the seemingly unknowable – love, birth and death.
As a generalisation the growth of capitalism has seen a larger and larger number of people reject religion for rationality.
This has seen the church leadership respond with more ferocity in its areas of ''mystery'' and other so-called moral streams such as the family (itself today a capitalist product for the cheap reproduction of the next generation of workers), marriage, sexuality, the subservient role of women, abortion and the like.
The homophobic opposition of the church's rulers to gay unions is in the end a power struggle waged by an ageing, and, viewed historically, declining philosophy of fear to retain and gain support in an increasingly secular society.
We should support equality for all and that includes the right of gays and lesbians to marry.
If that means as a by-product the further reduction of the power of the church hierarchy then we as a society should welcome.
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