Opinion vs Ideology: Same-Sex Marriage


I’m angry.

Our (ridiculous) government has gone through with an expensive plan to survey Australians, asking, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

In the context of the discussions and campaigns associated with this survey, I’ve been told – and I have read and I have heard and seen – that ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’ on this matter. This rhetoric is typically used to defend a ‘No’ response to the survey question posed by our (ridiculous) government.

Here’s where that breaks down for me. This is not an opinion-based survey. This is a survey of our deep-seated  ideological beliefs. Because at the core of that question is, ‘Do you believe that all humans should have the same rights?’ This is a human rights issue, and the Australian government should have passed a law guaranteeing all Australians the right to marry years ago. It baffles and angers me that it has come to this.

If you’re reading this and are still on the fence, consider that if this survey asked, “Should the law be changed to allow Indigenous couples to marry?” or “Should the law be changed to allow couples who don’t want to have children to marry?” or “Should the law be changed to allow couples over the age of 55 to marry?” or “Should the law be changed to allow couples where one or both are European-born to marry?” there would (rightfully) be uproar. That would be outrageous! Of course these demographics should be allowed to marry. Why does the law currently prohibit them from marrying? Why are we even having this discussion?

Well, here we are, having a national discussion about whether or not an entire demographic of Australians are equal to the rest of Australians. That’s why I’m angry.

And the only reason I can think of for a person to vote ‘No’, is because their deep-seated ideologies tell them that they are superior to others, and that some others do not deserve the same human rights as they do.

But what if homosexuality is against their religion, and they are deeply religious and a ‘Yes’ would be contrary to all they believe?

I’ve given this a lot of thought too. I was raised in a Christian religion that is (wayyyy) far right of centre. I learned that homosexuality – along with a host of other things – was sinful. I have since unlearned this, by the way. I never learned, however, that I should hate homosexuals, nor think that God loved them any less than he loved me.

If you truly believe that your God wants you to hate other people or think that they are less than you are, or that your God loves you more than others because you hold true to his (or her) teachings, then theologically-speaking, you’re doing it wrong.

You can be (highly) religious, believe that homosexuality is a sin, and still believe that all people deserve to have the same rights. Many people who have voted yes are religious.

But what about the sanctity of marriage?

Let’s talk about that. We have a domestic violence problem in Australia. It is rampant, and ugly, and the majority of victims – male and female – are afraid to speak up. As a nation, we seem not to know what to do to eradicate domestic violence, but we do seem to agree that it is a blight on our society.

But never once has their been a discussion (or a survey!) about whether or not perpetrators of domestic violence, people with a blatant disregard for the sanctity of marriage, should have their right to marry removed (a discussion for another time perhaps). So, does the so-called ‘sanctity of marriage’ argument really deserve to be rolled out by a nation that allows perpetrators of domestic violence to marry?

So, no, I don’t accept that this is an opinion-based survey.

Rather, what our (ridiculous) government has done by purporting that this survey is to gauge our opinion on what is essentially a human rights issue, is to normalise bigotry.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, sure. But, I’m not okay with calling a this an opinion-based survey when it’s not.

And that’s why I’m angry.





We the people…don’t always get it right

Two political posts in a row…


In the aftermath of Brexit, I am still reeling. As a dual Australian-British citizen, I can no longer dream about or plan an extended working stay or a semi-retirement in 27 European countries. There are dozens of political, economic and social implications still to be revealed. And most seem like they’ll have the power to adversely affect my young nephew, who lives in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire with his parents.

Watching Brexit from the sidelines of Australia, I wondered at the tactic to leave this critical and vastly-complex decision to the public. I keep asking myself, ‘What was Cameron thinking?’ The Stay and Leave campaigns both seemed to target emotion rather than providing information, with misinformation combated with fear-mongering.

So, how do you let an emotional public, or even worse, an ill-informed or indifferent public to make such an important decision, particularly when you’re not even compelling them to participate? Isn’t that the job – the complex and critical job – of elected officials? Are there some things that should not be left to the public to decide? Is this the ultimate SNAFU in the pursuit of democracy?

This isn’t ‘should we have Daylight Savings or not?’ This is the future of a country, of its people and its geographical neighbours. This was too important a decision to leave to the layperson.

And in the aftermath, we’ve seen a wave of ‘Bregret’ – people who voted Leave, but didn’t really understand the implications. Or even worse, we are seeing people publicly shamed for gross stupidity of the ‘extra sunlight from Daylight Savings will fade my curtains’ magnitude.

What did David Cameron do when he decided to ask the British people to vote???

On Saturday July 2, Australia goes to the polls for a federal election. Unlike our American cousins across the pond, our dominant political parties don’t stray too far from the middle. We have slightly left of centre (Labor), slightly left of that (the Greens), slightly right of centre (the oddly-named Liberals) and slight right of that (the Nationals, who form a Coalition with the Liberals). It’s essentially Shorten (Labor) vs Turnbull (Liberals) and politically speaking, they’re much of a muchness when compared with the Trump/Clinton dichotomy.

The biggest divides between the (slightly) left and (slightly) right are around Education – both parties believe it is important and will continue to throw buckets of money at it, but they have different ideas of how to spend the money and how many buckets full to throw – and Marriage Equality.

Both candidates believe that we should have Marriage Equality in Australia. In fact, when Turnbull ousted (idiot) Abbott, many Australians watched with bated breath to see him make history and call for a parliamentary vote on the matter. We knew that given the chance, parliament was very likely to pass a law allowing men and women to marry their same-sex partners. You know, a basic human right.

But he didn’t. He said he would, but he didn’t. His party didn’t want a parliamentary solution. And, I have to say, as much as I was relieved to see Turnbull take over from (idiot) Abbott, he wants to be PM more than he wants to do what he knows what is right, what he believes is right.

Instead, if elected, the Coalition will hold a plebiscite. I had to look up what a plebiscite is. Essentially, it is a non-compulsory ‘vote’ at the end of a lengthy (and often ugly) public debate, and the result does not compel the government to act on it – even if it is in favour of Marriage Equality, which is ultimately what the Prime Minster supports. Ridiculous.

So, why? Why are we going to the expense ($160m) so we can debate if a group of people can have a basic human right? Again, this isn’t whether or not we should have daylight savings – something that has gone to referendum in this country – a referendum being compulsory with a legally-binding result. Why are we treating a right with less importance than a preference?

I read this incredibly articulate article today by Brian Tobin called, “Australia doesn’t need a plebiscite on same-sex marriage – Ireland’s experience shows why.” Tobin makes this point:

“Placing the rights of a minority group in the hands of the majority seems almost ludicrous. A sizeable number of the electorate could simply vote against same-sex marriage without being properly informed in the way elected politicians would usually be when legislating.”

Penny Wong, a prominent Australian politician who has a daughter with her long-term same-sex partner, has spoken out repeatedly about the planned plebiscite. Ms Wong says, “A plebiscite designed to deny me and many other Australians a marriage certificate will instead license hate speech to those who need little encouragement…Mr Turnbull, and many commentators on this subject, don’t understand that for gay and lesbian Australians, hate speech is not abstract. It’s real. It’s part of our everyday life.”

I don’t always agree with political and social commentator Alan Jones, but I agree with his response to the question, ‘why should Australian be wary of a plebiscite?’ “Parliament. We select 150 in the House of Representatives to represent those 22 million people on critical issues such as this.”

And this  is a critical issue. This is a human rights issue and subjecting same-sex couples and their families to the type of scrutiny and bigotry that a plebiscite will most definitely bring, is a human rights violation – particularly when polls have told us that the majority of Australians either support Marriage Equality or are indifferent.

We elect representatives to parliament to represent us and to make decisions on our behalf. It’s their job. And that is why I cannot vote for the Liberals on Election Day. In the matter of ensuring a basic human right for all Australians, they simply will not do their job.