So, on behalf of millions of fair-minded Australians, I write this to all LGBTIQ Australians, with my own friends particularly close in my thoughts. And I want to say that I am sorry for what you are enduring right now. Some may take issue with my apologising for things I don’t have control of, but I am comfortable with the term, because I am truly sorrowful and embarrassed at what some of my fellow countrymen are capable of, let alone our pathetic excuse for a government. As I said, everyone is different and some of you are handling this farce remarkably well, but you shouldn’t have to; and I am dismayed by the already documented emotional impact it is having on many of you. You didn’t ask for your existence to be subject to prolonged public criticism and were unequivocal in your opposition to the plebiscite proposal, but here we are.
Come next election, you need no better example of how unfit the Liberal Party is to hold office than this postal survey on your rights. This is a government that saw the divisiveness of the Brexit referendum (which included one Remain campaigner being murdered in public) and thought, “Yeah we want some of that, but let’s make it even more drawn out.”
The so-called debate
Despite the protestations of conservatives, it is unarguable that you are the only real victims of what is generously being described as a debate about marriage law. Sadly, use of the term ‘debate,’ is poor nomenclature, as that would require two opposing perspectives on Marriage Equality being tested, but only one side is even talking about marriage. The other uses any piece of obfuscation and downright trickery to frighten people into voting against equality.
One thing I want to say to you is I’m not buying the lies and few people I speak to are either. They just come off as desperate and none of their arguments withstand any real scrutiny or analysis. I don’t want to get into name calling, but anyone proudly saying, “I’m not a bigot, but I think homosexuality is wrong,” is going to have to pick one or the other. Ironically though, this type of NO voter is the only one being honest about why they are against equality.
While I can’t agree with their homophobia, at least they are open about it, so in some ways I give them a little more credit than the more urbane NO advocates who try to have it both ways. And it is certainly preferable to the disingenuous and self-righteous wailing about a child’s need to have both a mother and a father. Aside from its blatant irrelevance and mistruth, this is just a poorly coded way of saying children need to be protected from gay parents.
To many of us, it is self-evident how distorted and malicious these words are. It makes me angry when I hear them said about people I care about, so I can only imagine how awful it is endure in person. I urge you to remember that the lies said about you are in no way reflective of you or your relationships. They are just reflections of the ignorance and prejudice of those who say them.
If you want to stand up for yourself and respond to these veiled attacks, you go right ahead. There has been a lot written about how the YES campaign has lost votes by being too ‘aggressive,’ but I’m not sure I buy this as a significant factor. Even if it is, you have to do what is right for you and sometimes standing up for ourselves is important for our own wellbeing. Moreover, people who whine about their rights to freedom of speech almost invariably have a very one-sided idea of that freedom. It takes some pretty Orwellian sophistry to argue that those who are publicly belittling you and your relationships are entitled to free speech, but when others use that same freedom to justifiably ridicule their ridiculous claims, the NO campaign feels bullied.
I won’t say I speak for a majority of Australians. I’ve heard half a dozen people make this claim, including Bernardi and Abbott (both of whom I despise). I don’t want to sound anything like them, so I won’t even use the language. I also shouldn’t need to speak for the majority, because morality should not be a popularity contest. On the other hand, I truly believe millions of Australians are with you in this campaign and that most of the denigration is coming from an obstinate minority. As the saying goes, it only takes a few empty vessels to make a lot of noise. And as the hysterical voices of those against equality get louder and more desperate, that is no sign of their strength, but of their weakness. I hope you all know this.
Actually, I don’t think it is okay to vote NO
Sadly, I have to accept that even some of my own friends will vote against equality and in doing so will wilfully endorse arguments that treat you as inferior. What do I make of that? In truth I’m not sure how to act about this. I won’t deny anyone the right to hold different opinions to my own and as I have said before, we are so much more than a single opinion. But this is a different situation.
I don’t care about opinions, but I do care about actions, especially those which directly and negatively impact on many of my friends. And that is what a vote against equality is. Am I still okay that some of my friends are going to do that? I’m honestly not sure. I guess I’ll make up my mind at some point after the whole painful charade is over, but I don’t expect to forgive quickly.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this survey has been set up by opponents of equality to get a particular result. But even if it succeeds, one way or another, Marriage Equality is coming and coming soon. If the Liberal government continues to fumble over this issue, I expect the next Labor government to legislate on it as a matter of priority and, in doing so, formalise an ongoing point of difference that will be politically costly for the Coalition for years to come. And when it does- without the fanciful consequences NO campaigners are trying to conflate with it- a lot of people are going to be a bit sheepish about having voted against it. This knowledge that they were wrong isn’t going to go away quickly either. And nor should it.
What I am hoping for is a resounding YES that clearly articulates that I live in an open, accepting country, and not one that is stuck in the bigotry of the past. I don’t ask people to be ashamed of history, but now that we know better, we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes. But even if we don’t get that, let me assure you that for me and many others, none of the mud thrown by the NO campaign will stick and all this whole charade has done is consolidated our support for you.