I’m beginning to suspect that our Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, needs a new media advisor, someone who can help him tone down the rhetoric he is continually spraying at millions of fellow Australians.
In an open letter address to Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Andrews has called for Government to drop the plebiscite on marriage, and instead present a bi-partisan Bill to Parliament within the next 100 days.
In the letter, he writes,
“It will legitimise a hateful debate which will subject LGBTI Australians to publicly-funded slurs and denigration.”
“In Victoria equality is not negotiable. On behalf of my state, I urge you to accept there is no need for a costly and divisive plebiscite and agree to produce a bipartisan Bill to amend the Marriage Act within the next 100 days.”
And apparently members of Parliament who don’t share Mr Andrews’ views, “do not represent a fair and modern country.”
Clearly, the Victorian Premier doesn’t trust the Australian people to conduct a civilised discussion on marriage, and he is also fearful of the possibility that Australians will not support change to the Marriage Act.
I believe there are arguments for and against this plebiscite, and it is undoubtedly an unusual course of action, but it is a valid democratic pathway, and one that was determined months ago.
Given this fact, would it not be wise for our political leaders to encourage Australians to discuss this issue with grace and respect, rather than the unhelpful name-calling Mr Andrews’ seems unable to avoid? This letter is certainly not as offensive as many of his comments which usually include the words, bigot and homophobe, but it still derogatory.
Let us not pretend otherwise, changing the definition of marriage is no small thing. Australians are not choosing whether to adopt a new tax or funding more schools or creating the NBN, as important as such things may be; we are deciding how Australia will view what is the most essential and basic unit of every society on earth, marriage. Does not the significance of this issue deserve the voice of the Australian people?
As someone who has a voice in the community, albeit a small one, I will gladly stand alongside Mr Andrews’ and affirm that hateful speech and actions against LGBTI people is unacceptable. A marriage plebiscite does not justify spite or slander toward those who wish to change the Marriage Act, nor toward those who believe the Act should remain unaltered.
As important as this plebiscite is, there is something of greater consequence, and that is the good of others. I have no desire to sacrifice people for the sake of a vote. I do not wish harm on any homosexual and lesbian Aussies. But please do not erroneously fuse disagreement with hate as though there is an inextricable link between the two, for this is not the case. To disagree civilly is not to hate, and by thinking as such Mr Andrews’ risks undermining the foundation of democracy.
It is possible, indeed desirable, to show kindness in disagreement. I realise that kindness like marriage is a disappearing norm in Australia today, but showing gentleness and respect toward those with whom there is a different view ought to be basic to our humanity. Is this not one of the reasons why Donald Trump leaves us shuddering?
Mr Andrews’, I appreciate your concerns about the plebiscite, but rather than demeaning those Australians who have a different opinion, will you stand with us in modelling and encouraging a constructive conversation about marriage?