d) Family, relationships and marriage
This column was published in MCV and SX News on 17.11.10
Marriage equality is just around the corner.
That seems like a logical conclusion if you’ve been following the debate over the past couple of weeks.
Full equality now has the support of senior federal ministers, two state premiers, and even some shadow federal ministers.
If a conscience vote was held today equality might be achieved.
But what this doesn’t take into account is a campaign against equality from Catholic Bishops, evangelical churches and advocacy groups like the Australian Christian Lobby.
Until now, these groups have maintained a deliberate strategy of only publicly engaging with marriage equality when absolutely necessary, so as not to give the issue more coverage.
Now that the issue has coverage anyway, expect the strategy of the religious right to reverse itself.
It will campaign harder against marriage equality than it has on almost any other legal reform in a generation.
I am certain of this because virtually no nation or state with marriage equality has escaped such a campaign.
The question is not “if” but “when”?
The effect of such a campaign doesn’t have to be overly negative.
If it is hateful, an anti-equality campaign would probably increase public support and push some MPs towards reform.
Knowing this, the religious right may, instead, decide to incite baseless fears on side issues like the freedom of religious ministers not to celebrate same-sex nuptials or of teachers not to have to teach their students about same-sex marriages.
This has been the subtler approach taken by groups in California and Maine, and may well be tried here too.
The key to the impact of any anti-equality campaign is how LGBT people and our allies respond.
If we react with anger and fear, we will inevitably lose support among those many ordinary Australians who look to us for leadership on this issue.
If we react with dignity, grace and humour, and keep our eyes on the prize of equality, we will inspire more Australians than ever to support equality too.
Think of it as judo-activism: turning the aggression and anger of others into a positive force for change.
We can’t stop an anti-equality campaign. But the effect it has is almost entirely up to us.
[ Email This Article ]