By Mike Welsh
With the SSM debate getting hotter and nastier and, if possible, more blatantly disproportionate, it’s fair to speculate many are clamming up when talk turns to the postal poll. From those that I’ve asked, some are voting “Yes” over “No” for the sake of peace.
A “Yes” vote of course will almost always guarantee acceptance or a tick of approval, but to suggest you may be thinking in the negative will almost always result in vilification. Such is the nature of this argument. This is no longer a debate.
As the SSM postal survey voting papers arrive in mailboxes across Australia, and pictures of “Yes” boxes ticked swamp social media, Tasmanian-born comedian Hannah Gadsby has injected some rare balance and consideration into the divisive debate.
Speaking with 7.30‘s Leigh Sales to promote her new and final (Gadsby is retiring from stand-up) show, the openly gay performer said the same sex marriage debate had made her “tired”, adding “this shouldn’t be happening. To make us subject to a majority vote means we have to prove ourselves worthy and that’s exhausting.”
The 39-year-old, who has just won the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award, says “it’s also unfair for those who oppose gay marriage because the ‘No’ vote comes with a lot of stigma and these people are being dragged out because they know they want to say publicity why they want to vote ‘No’, and their ideas are steeped in ignorance. But what I don’t doubt is what informs their need to say so ‘No’ or speak out and that’s just general concern, and who am I to doubt why people are concerned about what’s happening? Parents are concerned about the way children are taught about gender and sexuality. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s good to be concerned.”
Gadsby said “what’s not right is that it’s placed on me”.
Gadsby likens the vile tone of current debate to her home state of Tasmanian and how she dealt with horrific victimisation at a time when the Apple Isle was radically changing draconian laws on homosexuality. She says we haven’t learnt anything from that time.
Up until now it has appeared that only those with a profile (Wallaby, Israel Folau, being the latest) who dared venture into the “No” zone were viciously targeted.
But following yesterday’s “It’s Ok to say No” rally, organised by Catholic students at Sydney Uni, which turned violent when a much larger “Yes” mob turned up, the issue has escalated into a frightening and wide-spread “game on”. The SMH reports a spokesperson for the Sydney University Catholic Society said “vote ‘No’ campaigners were physically assaulted,verbally abused and repeatedly shouted down.”
The spokesperson said “We were told we cannot be on campus with such beliefs”.
So much for that “respectful debate”, and more importantly, free speech.