Same Sex Marriage is a hot topic in Australia right now. With the survey well in progress, and campaigns from both sides in full swing, almost anyone stepping forward to offer a public opinion on the topic has come under attack. An unfortunate, yet entirely predictable outcome of the way this topic has been handled.
Our so-called leaders, who are elected to represent the interests of their constituents, could have taken the lead on this subject. But fear of backlash from sizeable segments of voters led them to instead push the responsibility back on the general public.
The result, is a divisive, often emotional, and bitter argument that will leave its imprint on Australia’s communal consciousness long after the survey’s results are published. And I would characterise it is an argument instead of a debate, as the emotional and often irrational tones from both camps are set to leave emotional scars that will take a long time to heal.
And I would question the value of the debate. I would suggest that most Australian’s held a position on same sex marriage before any campaigns were launched. I wonder how many Australians have actually changed their position based on those campaigns. Or whether the main outcome of the campaigns has been to create a rift in our society and pry it wider and wider.
I have watched long time friendships tested to breaking point over a topic where none of those friends are directly impacted by the outcome. Arguments becoming so heated that the topic is now banned from discussion in some social circles. Relegated to the dark corners reserved for subjects like abortion and euthanasia.
The only ones whose opinions these campaigns might affect are those who are not directly impacted by the result, and as such are not invested in the outcome.
And I am concerned about our nation’s ability to move forward regardless of the final outcome.
Eventually, one of two things will happen. Same sex marriage will be permitted, while some who were against it continue to oppose through protests and hashtags, causing conflict to continue.
There is no scenario where those strongly opposed to same sex marriage will stop being vocal in that opposition. Protestors are found outside abortion clinics in countries where it is legal, even years after the laws were passed. Is it unrealistic to imagine similarly oriented groups wont protest weddings with same sex couples, citing the same right to have their voice heard? Making same sex marriage legal is just a first step, and is far removed from ending discrimination against same sex couples.
The other outcome is that same sex marriage will fail. Which will not be the end of the debate. Those seeking same sex marriage rights will simply assume that our country was not ready to support it yet. And that in time, with further long-term campaigning, we will return to the same debate over and over and over and over until same sex marriage rights are finally awarded.
There is no scenario where proponents simply give up on seeking same sex marriage rights.
I don’t have a conclusion.
This piece is in part to vent about the failure of our leadership. Part to address the poor form being demonstrated in both sides of the debate. And part to raise the concern about the way forward for our society – if there is one.