LABOR'S change of policy on gay marriages has triggered the usual grand howls and sermons from The Book of Threats courtesy of the usual suspects.
While it would be easy to dismiss George Pell and Fred Nile as bigoted old dinosaurs roaring in frustration as their petty powers slowly ebb away, it is actually quite instructive to investigate more deeply two questions.
Firstly, how relevant to actual parties contracting marriages is the religious aspect?
Secondly, to what degree are those figures reflected in support for gay marriages?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' November 30 release show 69.2% of marriages last year were civil services. This is a 27.1% increase from 1990.
Religious ceremonies dropped from 57.9% in 1990 to 30.7% last year.
In the last decade, the percentage of religious weddings has dropped by 16.5%.
These figures may not tell the whole story.
While it is safe to assume that very few deeply religious people opted for a civil service, we all know of supposedly religious ceremonies involving parties who have not darkened the door of a church either before or since.
The degree to which a church wedding is a matter of fashion rather than faith is not disclosed by these figures.
With an overall practising religious observance estimated at less than 10% of the population and the number of couples who never formally marry factored in, the degree to which religious observance actually affects marriage plans in this country seems to be rapidly diminishing.
That may not necessarily reflect the position of the general public regarding marriage equality for gay couples.
Australians are notorious for their Santa Claus attitude to religion.
They don't really believe but are prepared to perpetuate the fable when it suits them.
I have heard people who have committed every one of the seven mortal sins, plus a few the Bible never listed, use quasi-religious terms to justify their bigotry against homosexuals.
Polls assessing the support in the community for marriage equality for gay couples are notoriously erratic in their findings.
Even the most conservative pollsters suggest that in any statistically significant general poll, support for equality is at least 48% and the opposed never reaches more than 42%.
What exactly the aundecidedsa constitute is a bit hard to fathom.
Polls in Australia have returned ain favoura findings as high as 70%.
One is tempted to dismiss that as an inevitable statistical aberration but it still indicates a growing support for a non-traditional position.
Of course we have to remember that marriage has always been defined by a traditional position. In some countries tradition allows one man and many women, in a few it allows women more than one husband. …