The Liberal Party, under Tony Abbott, has made a very savvy political decision today, and an appropriate decision for Australia, in delaying a plebiscite on the issue of same-sex marriage until after the next election.
I am reminded of an article which The XYZ shared a little while ago, which discussed the phenomenon whereby marginal yet vocal pressure groups can make themselves appear larger and more important than they actually are, simply by making a lot of noise and not shutting up.
I think that the reason Labor, the Greens, the ABC, and even Malcolm Turnbull, have made such a fuss today, have carried on as though a decision to allow the Australian people to decide the decision via the direct democratic process of a referendum or a plebiscite is morally wrong and politically stupid, is this:
If my hunch is correct, and it is a very good hunch, that a popular vote for same-sex marriage would not succeed, while it is highly likely that with an official policy by Labor and the Greens, and a conscience vote for Liberal MPs, there would probably be the numbers to get it through parliament, what does this say about the manner in which the same-sex marriage issue has been presented?
It would surprise many to know that the actual proportion of gay people in the population is below 2%. A false statistic is often mentioned by those lobbying for same-sex marriage that it is somewhere around 10%, but this is complete nonsense.
It has only been within the last decade that the push for same-sex marriage has become a “thing.” Before that, it would have been the last thing most gay people wanted, and I suspect it is still the last thing many of them want. Back in the oh-so-progressive 90’s my own university lecturers banged on and on about what a repressive institution marriage was, and how it must be destroyed, or delegitimised. Now it has become the ultimate symbol of the final acceptance of gay people in the community.
But the thing is, people have memories, and they are not falling for it.
In elite, high profile circles, such as politics, the media, entertainment, I think the majority are in favour of same-sex marriage, or at least, they are very aware of saying the right things. This became very clear to me yesterday when I was listening to Melbourne’s Gold 104.3. They have a dating show called “Elimidate” on their morning program which follows the fairly standard formula of a panel of suitors asking questions of a potential mate, and visa versa, and usually a match is made. For the first time, they had an all gay male “Elimidate.” Great. Whatever.
I thought it was a little odd that a female host made an excited “ooh!” but hey, maybe she thought she could acquire herself a new gay handbag in the process. In a bizarre episode, the first-up suitor, whose name was “Pedro,” was asked if he had an accent, and the hosts were quite obviously disappointed when he didn’t. The XYZ has published thousands of words on the Adam Goodes booing affair, (because it is not racist goddammit,) but I can honestly say I personally would never do that to someone. Because it is racist.
So, moving on from this can of worms of the issue of white people thinking that being progressive about gay marriage means they can bully someone over their name.. Suddenly one of the gay contestants asked a question, and asked this question so innocently, that it was a breath of fresh air. He asked words to the effect of, is marriage important to you, or do you think that it is something that is just a bit outdated?
I wanted to cheer. For just a moment, it was as though the last 10 years had never happened, and young, single horny people were open and honest about the fact, once again, that marriage is the last thing on our minds. But then the shutters came down. The potential mate stated, very rigidly, as though reading, words to the effect that he thought that it was very important that everyone have the opportunity to marry whoever they want. Then everybody, hosts and guests included, chimed in very quickly, with faint panic in their voices saying “I agree.”
It was as though I were listening to an audiobook of 1984.
Was I the only one who noticed that he didn’t really answer the question, or at least, not the way it was meant?
As Sarah Hanson-Young would say, it’s 2015.