politics

"Seven reasons I'm against the plebiscite. And one reason I'm for it."

Here’s what I hate about the idea of a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, in order of how much I hate it:

1. The prospect of a ‘no’ vote campaign that fundamentally rests on the idea that gay people do not deserve the same legal or human rights in Australia as heterosexual people.

2. The thought that LGBTI Australians will have to endure a government funded campaign by homophobes masquerading as ‘traditionalists’ who will use words like “unnatural” and “won’t someone think of the children” to stoke fear and hatred in our community.

3. The idea that vulnerable LGBTI young Australians, many of whom have not publicly disclosed their sexuality due to anxiety around acceptance, discrimination and bigotry will be exposed to a (government funded) campaign that says they’re not worthy of the same rights as their straight peers.

MP Tim Wilson used his maiden speech in Parliament to reveal his personal anguish over Australia's stance on marriage equality. Image: Facebook

4. Being told I must 'respect' those who support and promote the 'no' campaign. I refuse to do this because denying someone else the right to do what you have the right to do, based on their sexuality is abhorrent to me. And not a position worthy of respect. Just as I would not have respected all those who argued against Indigenous Australians being given the right to vote in 1962. Or those who argued against women being given the right to vote in 1902. No respect. None. Less than none. Negative respect. Revulsion.

5. Spending $160m AT LEAST on a glorified opinion poll with a fancy name. A plebiscite is non-binding. Coalition members have already said they will ignore it if the result doesn't conform to their (homophobic) beliefs.

On Mamamia Out Loud: why are we using these people's lives as political football?

6. Having to endure people like Tony Abbott and others defend their desire to discriminate against LGBTI Australians (as he did yesterday and has done repeatedly) with the use of the term "preserve traditional marriage" as if marriage is a static thing that has not evolved along with societal attitudes. Would those traditionalists like to return to the traditional definition of marriage where husbands could legally rape their wives? Where people of different races couldn't marry? How about where women had no legal or financial rights when she married and became the 'property' of her husband? THOSE WERE THE TRADITIONAL GOOD OL' DAYS, EH?

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7. The fact that the government must fund both sides of the plebiscite campaign. Which means providing a cheque for $1.5 million dollars to extremist groups like the Australian Christian Lobby who actively peddle repugnant, backwards views and who in no way represent the majority of moderate Christian Australians.

Watch: Mamamia is strongly in favour of marriage equality. (Post continues after video.)

I could go on.

So, how could anything sway me the other way?

I didn't think it could until I read Caroline Overington's recent column, in favour of the plebiscite. When I first read the headline, which indicated that Caroline supported the plebiscite, my immediate reaction was that our friendship was over, in much the same way I would feel at the prospect of a friend supporting Donald Trump.

But then.

What I love about Caroline is that I never know which side of a debate she will come down on. And she's always extraordinarily persuasive.

Her column argued that Australians were good and tolerant and progressive and that every poll suggests the plebiscite will be a landslide in favour of same sex marriage.

The government must fund both sides of the plebiscite campaign. Image via Getty.

And that the act of coming out in our millions, to support our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and workmates, strangers and celebrities.....we will be making an enormously powerful statement about what we believe as a society and as a country.

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She wrote:

"Some Australians will vote yes because they believe strongly in same-sex marriage as a human rights issue.

Most won’t give a hoot. Most will vote yes, not because they believe in civil rights with the burning fervour of Americans but because: hey, whatever floats your boat.

Some Australians will vote yes because they want to assure those they know and love that, yes, you belong. You and the same-sex person you want to marry: you belong to our family, and to this Australian family.

Some will vote yes in the memory of those who stood up and fought when this was still a difficult fight; for those who got arrested, or sacked from their jobs, or trampled by police on horseback; who had their names and addresses printed in the press; and yet who continued to stand, quietly pointing at the discrimination.

Some will vote yes for those who lay frightened in the arms of those they loved; or lived in fear of being found out.

For those who became sick.

For those who died.

Some will vote yes in a nudge of encouragement to the young, too many of whom look into their futures and see only shame and loneliness. Too many of whom still take their lives.

Some will vote yes because it’s our duty as human beings to do what we can to ease the suffering of others; or else because the yes vote is a sweet nod to the rascal nature of the human heart (it wants what it wants, and there’s no accounting for it).

Some — perhaps the main — will vote yes because it costs them nothing yet means everything to others."

The image of us coming out to say YES, loudly and proudly is a very persuasive idea. Image via Getty.
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And that was a very persuasive idea, the image of us coming out to say YES, loudly and proudly. And for the LGBTQI community - so often persecuted and discriminated against in the past, particularly by our political system who stubbornly and shockingly refuse to let Australia join most other Western democracies in righting a legal wrong - to see that support.

Overington continues:

"For years the Australian people have been ahead of their political leaders on this issue. And now comes the hour. And they deserve this day. You can’t take it from them.

The Australian people have fought for a day like that same day in Ireland, when Irish citizens across the globe came romping home to have their say."

And the argument that politicians have dicked around with this for too long; without a plebiscite, there is no chance of same sex marriage becoming a reality in the next three years, AT LEAST. And that, surely, would be a travesty.

So I'm torn. Genuinely torn. And ultimately, I will defer to the community most affected by the prospect of a plebiscite and I will fall into step behind them. Overwhelmingly, gay and lesbian Australians oppose the plebiscite.

And they have my unequivocal support.

Just as they will if the plebiscite goes ahead. Because that's when everyone will need to stand up to support a community who have suggested the pre-plebiscite campaign will be Australia's Summer Of Hate.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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