Vote yes in the Marriage Equality survey, just look out for Uncle Mal

A PUBLIC vote on marriage equality is delivering what some Australians have craved for years: an excuse to publicly trash LGBTIQ dignity.

The usual pundits are hailing the Coalition’s survey as a victorious tipping point for the fortunes of the Turnbull Government, but at best it’s a hand-holding exercise for the prime minister.

“A sad, embarrassing uncle – let’s call him Malcolm – is trying to get us to pull his cracker; but we know what’s coming.”

Because when the 122-million-dollar show comes to an end – and regardless of the result – if he wants to harness the voice of the people Mr Turnbull will still need to stand on his own two feet, walk into parliament and vote on a bill with his colleagues.

Not one outside voice, recorded at great cost to the Australian taxpayer, will echo in that chamber.

It happened that way five years ago this month when the parliament last voted on legalising marriage between any two Australians regardless of their gender. The Prime Minister was Julia Gillard, who crossed the floor and sat with then opposition leader Tony Abbott to vote the reform down 98 votes to 42.

In 2017, the numbers are a lot tighter thanks to a monumental campaign on multiple fronts, but it’s a very brave pundit who would predict the outcome.

If parliament votes on marriage equality – and there is nothing about the Coalition’s survey that binds it to vote on the result – the leadership vacuum may well see the status quo maintained.

Turnbull assures the country he and Lucy will vote yes… but remember, Mal, Lucy doesn’t get a vote where it really matters.

Uncle Mal

LGBTIQ Australians are in for a turbulent patch, and whenever our detractors pause from labelling us as dangerous to society they’ll be busy playing the victim, set to lose their freedom of speech and religious rights.

The display is already astonishingly vile, and when same-sex-attracted Australians and our supporters crack the shits and bite back, I support them, because it’s just not possible to debate human rights respectfully.

This survey is akin to a family Christmas where the LGBTIQ community has been seated on folding chairs at the wobbly card table, inches lower than the ‘adults’. It’s just assumed we’ll listen to the ignorant windbags sitting at the other end and consume whatever gets served up.

A sad, embarrassing uncle – let’s call him Malcolm – is trying to get us to pull his cracker; but we know what’s coming… a dumb joke and a cheap trinket.

It’s just another opinion poll, this survey. I’ll vote yes just like I’d wear Uncle Mal’s silly hat… for the sake of appearances, not because I’m having a great time.

Tricky Andy

It wasn’t Peter Dutton MP who came up with the marriage equality postal survey, as it’s often reported by the mainstream media. It was hatched in a Queensland backwater known as the electorate of Bowman, currently my home.

Here, Andrew Laming MP has annually surveyed constituents by post for years.

His techniques include publishing running tallies on Facebook, thousands of ‘lost’ forms, unscrutinised counting and only one vote per household. Unsurprisingly, Mr Laming has never announced a result that wasn’t a fervent no to marriage equality.

However, the electorate was independently polled in 2017 and the result was 59 per cent in favour.

It was also petitioned in 2016 and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of equality for same-sex couples.

For all of his ‘ask the people’ cleverness and claims of giving voice to democracy, none of Laming’s surveys ever united this electorate or resolved the issue once and for all, and it will be the same nationally.

Whatever the outcome of this misguided moment in the long game, creating legislation with the result will take a prime minister who leads the nation from the front.

There’s absolutely no guarantee that will be Uncle Mal.

This article also appears on No Fibs.

3 thoughts on “Vote yes in the Marriage Equality survey, just look out for Uncle Mal”

  1. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the informative piece on the marriage equality plebiscite. I especially love the metaphor of the wobbly Christmas table, as it truly depicts the current state of play and the slew of negative LGBTI commentary that has come out of this debate is definitely quite damaging to members of this community.

    I think, perhaps, that the most unfortunate externality of this non-binding plebiscite is the larger impact of the ‘NO’ campaign and its effect on many LGBTI community members who are less likely to live as their authentic selves due to fear of repercussion. It seems that the floodgates have been opened and ones perceived freedom of speech at this time is trumping their otherwise civil values of mutual respect and integrity. At Show Your Pride, we have been focusing on the effects that this debate is having on employees in businesses around Australia and the detrimental effect it is having on those closeted workers who are now further than ever from ‘coming out’.

    I Look forward to more content! I definitely share the same opinion that giving a voice to the nation in the name of democracy will not aim to achieve an appropriate resolution in this instance, and may, in fact, lead to further isolation of the LGBTI community.

    Kind Regards,
    – The Show Your Pride Team

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