“I own a water tank so I’m voting ‘no’ on plumbing.”
“My best friend lives next door so I’m voting ‘no’ for telephones.”
“I’m not sick so I’m voting ‘no’ to hospitals.”
Allowing a popular vote on a basic human right creates division and encourages people to look at the issue from their own perspective, rather than its benefit to the whole community.
Last week, a Christian school principal in Ballarat sent out a letter encouraging his school community to vote in accordance with his own beliefs. His beliefs are that homosexual people should not be granted marriage equality. His personal concern was that “those who have a contrary view… are labelled mentally ill, and or homophobic, and or bigots.” Well, sorry mate, but I’m gonna jump in right now and claim two out of three. Having a view on a human right is fine, but encouraging people who share that view to actively oppress a minority group is the definition of bigotry. If that group is homosexuals that makes you homophobic. No one’s discriminating against your right to be a bigot, but don’t be annoyed when people call a spade a spade.
Bigotry is enshrining your own rights as untouchable or god given, while arbitrarily granting or not granting those same rights to others. Bigotry is putting yourself above others and claiming it as a necessity to the natural order.
To dismiss your bigotry as ‘just an opinion’ ignores the thought process that led to that opinion. A bigoted opinion doesn’t stray very far back in time or very wide in geography from the exact life of the person holding it. A homophobic opinion doesn’t consider homosexuality as legitimate and equal to heterosexuality. These are the fundamental building blocks that lead to your “contrary view”. They may not be mental illness, but they sure are ignorant and self-centred.
There have been vast swathes written about how the definition of marriage has changed over the centuries. In many cultures and times it was preferable to murder your spouse rather than divorce them, for instance. But claiming that your personal, contemporary definition of marriage holds constitutional weight gives more credit to a human opinion than a human right. Circulating memos to propagate your opinion only makes the human right more necessary.
There is no other area of Australian law in which religious beliefs are enforced upon someone who doesn’t share them. Ours is not a country of religious totalitarianism in any other area, so why apply it to marriage? If your opinion is based on religion, it has no place in a secular government. if your opinion boils down to, “oh, I just don’t like it.” then fine, no one can argue with that, but it still has no place in a secular government.
This same Ballarat principal asserted that “none of the school’s prep to year 12 students would be hurt by the email.”
Really? Not one? Holding views and opinions doesn’t hurt people. Spreading those views – like encouraging labelling, discrimination, bullying and segregation of a minority group via email – does. And when those views become laws the damage is further reaching than a regional school email list.
Statistically, most Australians aren’t gay, so asking for their opinion on marriage via a vote is kind of irrelevent. You’re asking a majority who has no self-same personal stake in an issue to decide the rights of those who do, granting the biggest slice of the vote to a disassociated group. The most common argument against marriage equality is that gay people’s rights may impact the lives of hetrosexuals. While this fear is patently unsubstantiated those same heterosexuals don’t consider that their values are – right now, as we speak – impacting the lives of gays. For better or worse, regardless of the outcome, straights get to decide whether gays can marry.
Humans in general don’t like change and historically see any update to current practice as a portent of doom. The death of decency! The end of civilisation! A lady wore a short skirt to the Melbourne Cup in 1965 and sparked scandalous headlines around the world. No one else was forced to wear a short skirt or forced to look at photos of the skirt, and no children were short-skirted by the presence of the skirt.
We already see gay couples posing for wedding photos in parks, men holding hands on the street, women kissing in cafes, and not one conservative house has been struck by lightning or swarmed by locusts as a result. It’s easy to avoid being part of a gay wedding if you don’t like them, but voting against marriage equality is the same as knocking on someone’s door, holding their eyes open with the Clockwork Orange machine and forcing them to read Watchtower over tea and bikkies.
Regardless of their opinions, marriage equality doesn’t concern most Australians so don’t let those Australians call the shots. This is not a matter for a vote. End discrimination. We can deal with the locusts later.