Should businesses and government departments get out of the same – sex marriage debate?

Canva images: lawyer, doctor and Quantas plane
Images: Canva

Today, Andrew Bolt criticised supporters of same – sex marriage and the Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, the ACT government, the Australian Medical Association, the ABC and the NSW Law Society for publicly campaigning for same – sex marriage.

In the past, Air b’n’b and Qantas has also been slammed for pushing for same – sex marriage.

This makes me raise a question: should councils, law firms and businesses get involved in political debate? On any issue: gay marriage, climate change, Recognition, etc? What if, as it’s the case with Qantas, the CEO is LGBTQ+ themselves?

Bullying is wrong. Full stop. I pointed that out yesterday.  That aside, there seems to be a push on both sides to limit or stifle debate, to be honest. One of the main arguments that businesses and councils should not be involved in these debates or taking sides is that the customers have a range of political views. In regards to the AMA, the clash is internal, with the organisation being criticised for false claims by some members regarding same – sex marriage and parents. However,  I have to say that I exposed one of the studies Bolt’s cited last year; Mark Regenerus, supposedly the largest study on same – sex families and its impact on children. However, even he admitted to Focus on the Family; a conservative organisation who promoted his findings that his findings actually didn’t prove same – sex families were worse for children.

Qantas has been a target by conservatives, most recently former tennis great and now Pentecostal pastor, Margaret Court who wrote a letter to The West Australian newspaper, threatening to boycott the airline ‘where possible’ because of their vocal support for same – sex marriage.

Now, the Sydney Council is under fire for allegedly supporting the “Yes” campaign financially, but not the ‘no’ case.

So, my question is: should corporations or governments get involved in any contentious political debate? Climate change? Safe Schools? Aboriginal Recognition? The asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru?

 

It’s not only Australia that companies have been under fire for their corporate stance on same – sex marriage. In 2014, Atlanta – based chicken sandwich franchise, Chick – a – fil – a caused controversy when the CEO, Dan Cathy vocally opposed same – sex marriage. He ended up backtracking kind of – not from his opinion that same – sex marriage was wrong, but by promising to refrain from expressing it publicly in the future.

Either the backlash against Qantas, Air B’n’B, the Sydney Council, the AMA and Chick – a – fil – a is justified or it’s not. Either CEO’s and companies can support political causes or it can’t.

Another thing, if a company, council or medical organisation ever does take a political stance, it’s going to have it’s opponents, regardless of the issue or side. Is this allowed or should everyone should be left with their individual views, with the company itself being neutral? I think it’s great when companies support the LGBTQ+ community or  Aboriginal people —the AFL is a great example of this — aiming to promote inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and people from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. Pushing a political cause though? I”m not sure.

 

What I do think is that all companies and brands should be held to the same standard. If Qantas for example shouldn’t publicly campaign for same – sex marriage, then a company shouldn’t campaign against it. Companies on both sides, I think, should show impartiality. Because, hey, some of their customers may be LGBTQ+ and/ or support same – sex marriage.

Should companies remain out of political debate? Share what you think.

Advertisements

Margaret Court saga – yes, she has a right to her vie but not to be free from criticism

 

 

 

IMG_0528
Image: iStock

 

 

It’s a controversy that won’t die down. Former Australian Tennis champion and Pentecostal pastor, Margaret Court sparked a fierce debate after she claimed in The West Australian that she’d boycott Qantas over Alan Joyce’s and Qantas’ strong stance on same – sex marriage.

Since then, and other events (which I’ll talk about a bit later), Court has been both criticised and fiercely defended – even by self – professed same – sex marriage supporters for her stance.

The only person in mainstream media in my view that has both criticised and defended Mrs. Court has been Graham Richardson. In the Australian on Sunday, he slammed both Court and same – sex marriage supporters for trying to stifle debate. 

The pathetic blow – up this week over Margaret Court’s comments was the last straw. Both sides have become so obsessed and hysterical over not just their case but in attempts to stop any alternative view being put.

In my view, Court’s comments this week in criticising both Qantas and its CEO Alan Joyce for entering the debate in favour of marriage equality was as outrageous as it was stupid. Why should Joyce not have the right to argue strongly for what he believes in? Why should the Qantas board not seek to back up Joyce who has turned the company’s fortunes around over five years? Surely in a democracy which is supposed to believe in free speech, this should be applauded not rubbished. Joyce is an openly gay man and he is entitled to campaign for something close to his heart.

Richardson is right. Both Joyce and Court are entitled to have their own views and be able to express them freely. People should also be able to challenge and rebut them, including Court.

image
Image: iStock

Unfortunately, I think the shambolic “interview” on “The Project” last Friday alienated same – sex marriage opponents even more, and quite frankly, Court has a right to bite back. Not only was she constantly interrupted, by Waleed Aly, but also ridiculed and interrupted by both Meshel Laurie and Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann. Judge for yourself:

 

Things like this only aggravates everyone and, if we’re not careful, may be the one roadblock to same – sex marriage being legalised in Australia if it went to a public vote. They’re only shooting themselves in the foot.

 

Even though Court does have a right to have her say, it’s also got to be pointed out that her comments have hurt others – even unintentionally. Tennis player, Casey Dellacqua, who has two children with her partner, Amanda Judd blasted her on Twitter over a comment Court made about a letter she wrote about same – sex parents.

Even though Court has fervently denies that she’s against gay people, her comments have opened wounds by those who have been hurt by Pentecostal pastors, some of which, until very recently, behind “ex – gay” therapy, a widely condemned by the American Psychological Association and other bodies.

Her comments both on The Project and The Bolt Report have conflated myths that have been used by “ex gay” therapy activists – one that being gay has anything to do with gender expression (i.e. being a “tomboy”) or that people are gay because they’ve been sexually abused are statements that should be (respectfully) challenged. This also goes for her comments on same – sex families, which, again are largely disputed..

 

There has also been debate over whether Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne should be renamed. While she doubts this will happen, Australia’s Sam Stosur, along with other tennis players, have stood behind Dellacqua and Judd, even going as far as vowing to boycotting Margaret Court Arena in protest. I do applaud Stosur and other tennis players standing behind Dellacqua and Judd, and they have a right to do so. Whether they boycott Margaret Court Arena, is still to be seen.

On the renaming controversy, I don’t agree that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. For the simple reason that Margaret Court is an Australian tennis champion, who in the 1960’s and 1970’s made huge achievements and undoubtedly revolutionised how women were viewed in the sport. No one can take that away from her, regardless of her views. That’s why her name’s there. If Stosur or others want to protest by not playing in the arena, I guess that’s their prerogative.

 

I can truly understand why this whole culture war has hit a nerve with some in the LGBTQ+ community. This is often a very personal and deep issue. But the same – sex marriage supporters here are largely at fault. While Court’s views about marriage and family can be challenged and debated, attacking her for having views has done nothing to better gay marriage or LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, it’s only made opponents more determined. We need to clean up our act and allow debate, rather than shut people up.