What the same – sex marriage result really means

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Images: iStock

The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to legalise same – sex marriage, forty – three to twelve affirmative. Plus 62.1% of people who took part in the postal vote also voted “Yes”. It’s going to happen.

So, what does that mean? I try and not be too mean about this, but, as I pointed out before, the ‘no’ campaign was a complete failure. Why? I think it was because they had no argument. They focused on Safe Schools. And through that, I truly believe that a lot of it was about painting LGBTQ+ people as sexual predators. The “slippery slope” arguments turned ridiculous and dangerous, with Senator Pauline Hanson saying that there needed to be a referendum to make sure child marriage doesn’t become legal (I’m not kidding).

Most Australians, including senators, obviously took a different approach. They realised that same – sex couples and LGBTQ+ people in general aren’t some sick conspiracy. Most people don’t link same – sex marriage to polygamy, or bestiality or child abuse. Many people, over 7 million Australians, were fair minded and thought about the debate through their own eyes (if they are LGBTQ+) or through the eyes of a friend or family member. The debate was, to many of those Australians, was about the future of their loved ones.

Over 7 million people didn’t think about schools teaching children how to masturbate. Most people who didn’t think that LGBTQ+ people were automatically linked to socialism (even though I do think the “Yes” campaign did become too closely aligned with Socialist Alliance and other far – Left organisations). The last ‘Coalition for Marriage’ advertisement was the most bizarre, making links between same – sex marriage and the Chinese Cultural Revololution of the seventies and eighties. LGBTQ+ people and same – sex marriage activists aren’t out to massacre anyone!

The biggest strength of the same – sex marriage debate (this time around), was that LGBTQ+ people were given a voice, particularly in the media. I think women’s site Mamamia did it the best, doing articles on people who are gay or in same – sex relationships (who may have been in an opposite – sex relationship before) and their families. This put a human face to the debate, taking away the conspiracy theories and paranoia about it. Founder, I think Mia Freedman has been a hero to the LGBTQ+ community over the years. I have so much respect for what she and the other writers and editorial staff.

Same – sex marriage opponents and skeptics haven’t been all bad either. While i think he’s been a scaremonger in the past, I applaud Newscorp’s Andrew Bolt for also giving LGBTQ+ people a voice, both on The Bolt Report, 2GB and on interviews he’s done, including on Christian show Think Again late last year. He has mentiojed his loved ones, including his sister, and their views.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on
Andrew Bolt expressed regret on the strains on his relationships with LGBTQ+ friends and family over same – sex marriage.

Love didn’t win. Well, not just that. The humanity of the LGBTQ+ community did. The majority of the Senate and over 7 million Australians showed the LGBTQ+ community that they are viewed as people, worthy of the same legal rights as non – LGBTQ+ people and couples. My hope now is that there is healing in both mental well – being and relationships where there’s been damage.

As I’ve said before, I hope this is only the start — the start of LGBTQ+ people being fully accepted. The start of young people feeling safe admitting they are LGBTQ+ or are questioning their sexuality/ gender identity. The start of LGBTQ+ people being fully acknowledged in education, media and other institutional settings. And, I think the public and the Senate have taken the first step.

UPDATE: potential step back. According to The Guardian, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has caved in  to the conservatives in his party and guarantee anti – discrimination exemptions to charities and civil celebrants. Maybe that was always going to happen.

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Censorship isn’t the answer

Last night, Andrew Bolt and Daily Telegraph columnist, Caroline Marcus criticised Facebook for blocking a user after he posted on the upcoming postal plebiscite on same – sex marriage.

After pressure from the public, the page and post have been restored.

Defending Natural Marriage's restored Facebook page
Facebook bucked under pressure and restored ‘Defending Natural Marriage’ page
Restored page of Defending Natural Marriage
Facebook page and acciunt of its creator has been restored by Facebook after inquiry by Sky News (Australia)

This has sparked an angry response from some of The Bolt Report fans. In retaliation, some have said they’d retract their support for same – sex marriage,

Screenshot of FB conversation on 'The Bolt Report
Censorship and bullying tactics are driving people away from supporting same – sex marriage

 

The same – sex marriage debate hasn’t been easy for some members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Frankly, it’s made me cry at times, and I’m single and asexual. I can only imagine how it must be for some same – sex couples. To have your identity, your relationship and your rights debated is tough.

However, I don’t think silencing debate will help the LGBTQ+ community. To be frank, the actions of some have been appalling. From the disgraceful treatment of Margaret Court on The Project earlier this year, to the threats made against the Australian Christian Lobby (I’m not commenting on the current case that’s presently before the court), and more, the LGBTQ+ community and the same – sex marriage campaign in particular are bleeding supporters.

Please step back.

The past couple of weeks have been hard for many LGBTQ+ people. I get it. I really do. But the attacking of opponents, or even some supporters like Marcus, is just wrong. Stop it!

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to cry. Journal. Scream,  if you need to. But don’t abuse people in real life or online. If you do say something in the heat of the moment, apologise.

If you think you are struggling too much, please, please reach out and seek help. Talk to a family member or friend. Let them support you. If you think you need more, seek out professional help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Bring LGBTQ+ people and allies into the same – sex marriage debate!

I love watching Paul Murray Live, but to be honest, I’m sick of the whole line ‘if the plebiscite wasn’t voted down by Labor and the Greens, we’d have same – sex marriage/ marriage equality (depending which term they use) in Australia by now”. Even Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson jumped on that bandwagon last night. Host Paul Murray then parrots statistics by “The Essential Poll”, which suggests that 61% say that there should be a national vote and 60% want same – sex marriage to be legal. OK, The Guardian Isn’t a ‘right – wing’ publication, true, but can anyone tell me how many people were polled?

I am not a complete opponent of plebiscite and in an earlier post, I did say that Labor was guilty of treating the LGBTQ+ community like a political football. But here’s the thing, if a plebiscite was such a good — and harmless — option for the LGBTQ+ community, why was it sold so poorly? Why did a poll by PFLAG (however small), show a fall in support for a plebiscite when people were told (correctly), that it was legally non – binding? Why didn’t the Coalition ensure that the result would be respected?

People, like former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Peta Credlin kept saying that the government would respect the result, but why didn’t an MP say that? It’s easy for her and on Paul Murray Live and the like. How many of them have felt fear holding their partner’s/ spouse’s hand in public? I’m not sure many, if any have — at least not recently. How many times have they had their sexual orientation linked to paedophilia and bestiality? (you see that all the time on social media) and the whole “they’re luring young girls to parties and things” comments. Not to mention a lack of reporting  and commentary after an LGBTQ+ radio station in Melbourne was faced with a bomb threat last year. To be fair, Dee Madigan commented on it on Paul Murray Live and, Paul Murray did say that he was going to condemn it. But no comment from others — including those who constantly accuse the same – sex marriage supporters for mob attacks on same – sex marriage opponents (which, unfortunately do happen). I guess I should be fair and say that this year, commentators have picked up their game and condemned homophobia. There have been a few incidents that have been condemned and let’s hope it keeps on happening (the calling out, I mean).

Going back to the first point, I believe that LGBTQ+ need to be included in the debate, preferably without being screamed down. Seriously, why shouldn’t gay/ bi people like Molly Meldrum have a say about issues like gay marriage and the Margaret Court controversy if straight people are demanding the same? That’s what a ‘debate’ is — people expressing opposing views. Yet, we hear echo chambers of people mostly saying that the plebiscite should have happened. They can have that view, sure, but what about have a member of PFLAG or an LGBTQ+ add to the discussion and maybe expressing some worries that they have? Why not have a counsellor/ social worker, etc who works with LGBTQ+ people? (I’ve seen the ABC do that once). I’m not saying that people like Paul Murray, Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi or anyone else shouldn’t have a say. They can. But I think there is another side. There is concern on how it may have turned out, and I think they need to be heard as well. Because ultimately, LGBTQ+ people will be the ones affected by the result and, possibly, the process.

Gay couple just married
Image iStock

For Australians, do you think the same – sex marriage has been hijacked? Leave your thoughts below. 

Cooper’s Brewery receive backlash over gay marriage debate

 

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QANTAS boss, Alan Joyce has been a vocal supporter of same – sex marriage, despite public criticism.

Coopers Brewery have copped a whopping from same – sex marriage supporters after they agreed to have their product featured in Bible Society’s “Keeping it Light”, which was a debate on same – sex marriage. When they withdrew their support and reinstated their support for same – sex marriage, they got a backlash from conservatives.  The debate was between Goldstein Liberal MP Tim Wilson and former SAS officer and Liberal MP for Canning, Andrew Hastie.

I saw a segment of the debate on same – sex marriage on YouTube between Hastie, a conservative Christian and Wilson, who is openly gay and who describes himself as agnostic and on a “journey” to find the truth about god. Wilson supports a change in the Marriage Act to allow same – sex couples, while Hastie firmly believes in maintaining the Marriage Act as it is. After a backlash from same – sex marriage supporters, Managing Director Dr. Tim Cooper offered a public apology to same – sex marriage supporters and reinforced the company’s support for same – sex marriage. After their apology, Cooper’s Brewery was slammed by conservatives by backing down.

 

I saw the debate on YouTube and I think both Wilson and Hastie should be applauded for their conduct. They were both very respectful, while both articulating their views. Neither lead personal attacks and Hastie never demeaned Wilson because of his sexuality and spoke respectfully of his long-term partner. Both sides of the marriage debate could learn from this. For same – sex marriage supporters, not all opponents are the enemy. You can still prefer maintaining the Marriage Act without attacking the LGBTQ+ community. That’s how a debate should be. Two people putting their points across, while no one feels threatened or demeaned.

 

I get whey people are concerned. I get the pain of having your lives constantly debated, sometimes unfairly. I never once thought that if the plebiscite was going ahead last year that the process would be a walk in the park for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore I think one of the biggest failures of the Coalition government – with not a lot of help from Labor, mind you – was to ensure that supports were in place to help LGBTQ+ community and families in distress when things got too much. I also didn’t like the way that some tried to back pedal anti – discrimination laws while the debate was going on.

On the other hand, I genuinely believed that not having a debate, especially on issues like free speech and the impact on same – sex marriage opponents would only backfire on the LGBTQ+ community in the long term, as it has in Brazil  and the U.S. My fears have lessened in the past couple of weeks, especially after “Married at First Sight” controversy which saw two Jehovah Witness parents rejecting their gay son’s wedding. I remember the explosion on Facebook in support for the couple who married in Florida. I thought that was so touching. Some of these comments were made by people I know personally, as well as on news articles. I take this as a good sign – that people are willing to call out homophobia when they see or hear it.

Since the spat over Cooper’s, I’ve also been thinking of whether major companies should be involved in politics. It’s not just Cooper’s that have copped criticism. Alan Joyce from Qantas, a long-time supporter of same – sex marriage,  has copped criticism from conservatives for making their support for same – sex marriage known and linking it to their brand.

 

Silencing debate will not help the LGBTQ community

TV talk show host and comedian, Ellen DeGeneres has  uninvited gospel singer and preacher, Kim Burrell after a video of a controversial anti – gay sermon went viral. Burrrell was meant to perform with Pharell Williams. She confirmed the cancellation of Burrell’s invitation on Twitter:

Degeneres can have whoever she wants on her show. She can invite – or not invite – anyone she pleases. In one way, you can understand why she did it. To come out so publicly must be real hard, also, considering the backlash she received afterwards. Since then, she’s been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community, especially gay youth. She spoke out after a number of LGBT teens committed suicide in 2010, one of which was Tyler Clementi, who took his own life after a video of him kissing another man went viral.

 

Degeneres isn’t the only one who’ve refused anti – LGBTQ people a platform. In fact, it seems to be common for the mainstream LGBTQ community and supporters to silence opponents, or at least give them less space/ advertising to spout their views. Australia has seen a similar phenomenon. In 2015, channels 7 and 10 refused to air an advertisement by conservative group Marriage Alliance. Controversially, the same year, SBS pulled an anti same – sex marriage advertisement from Australian Marriage Forum during the airing of the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Channels 7 and 9 ran the advertisement. SBS copped criticism from MPs and a commentator.

More recently, publisher Connor Court refused to publish a book by Australian Marriage Forum’s Dr. van Gend, which argued against same – sex parenting. To me, this goes too far.  Why couldn’t Connor Court publish it, have it on shelves, have it read by prominent commentators and have it discussed on “The Morning Show”, “The Project” and “Studio 10”, etc. I doubt that any of the hosts on those shows would agree with the content, to be honest, but what’s the harm of them expressing that and offering a chance for the public to respond? The only exception I would put is if van Gend deliberately went out of his way to vilify the LGBTQ community. That should be off limits, period. Other than that, this is only a bad look for same – sex marriage supporters and the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Late last year, I listened to Mia Freedman’s podcasts where she aimed to “burst her bubble” and contact people who had a different ideological outlook to her. This was after the U.S. Election and the announcement that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. Throughout a number of the podcasts, Freedman expressed how she had to stand back and not read or expose herself to anything about the U.S. Election because of how it affected her emotionally. I get that. In the context of same – sex marriage, it is a very hard – hitting and emotional debate for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes, you need to sit back and not read or listen to anything about that topic. I felt that way a bit last year, actually. But generally, I think we – the LGBTQ+ community and supporters, need to let other people speak and be heard. We should be  willing to challenge false assumptions if need be. Listen to people’s concerns about issues like freedom of religion and freedom of speech. To be honest, I think they are topics that need to be talked about properly and maturely. Confront and argue against absurd misconceptions. But banning speech, airtime, etc from same – sex marriage opponents is not going to win any hearts. In fact, I think it’ll do the opposite.

 

I’m not saying agree. I’m not saying that we should sit back and let ourselves get abused by others. All I’m saying is let others speak. And be willing to challenge. At least then, if, or when, same – sex marriage is legal in Australia, the other side can say that it was a fair fight and, hopefully, the LGBTQ+ community can continue gaining acceptance without backlash.

 

What do you think?