Sunday, 13 August 2017

Australia's Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite - The Straw Man Cometh

Australia is about to have a postal plebiscite to vote on same sex marriage. Woo-hoo! With opinion polls continually returning approval of the change in the 70% range - it sounds like it's going to be a huge gay party. (Everyone knows they're the best type.)

But not so fast. The plebiscite will cost over one hundred million dollars - money the government could save by simply passing a law. The vote would be nonbinding, not compulsory and would allow the conservative government to vote it down even if the vote from the plebiscite overwhelmingly supported changing the marriage act.

The opposition to the vote warns such a vote gives conservative groups the opportunity to legitimise, promote and publicise damaging, hateful and erroneous views towards the LGBTQ community in the name of campaigning for a no vote.

And this fear is now being realised.

It's ironic that those who are clearly no friend of Dorothy, rely on all her friends to argue against things they don't like or understand.

They clearly don't have a heart, given they want to stop people in love from declaring their relationship in a formal way, equal to all others.

They don't have a brain, given they keep confusing marriage between a loving couple with polygamy, bestiality and the ability to have and raise children.

And they don't have the courage to stand up and declare they have an issue with anyone under the LGBTQ banner having equal rights, and those reasons are, largely, that they don't like, understand or consider them equal.

We should all become more aware of the straw man arguments continually rolled out for debate on emotive issues and call these arguments out for what they are. Cut the debate short by declaring an argument is not on topic.

The definition of the straw man argument is to give the impression of refuting an opponent's argument while refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.

For instance - Gay marriage has nothing to do with having or raising children. They are two separate issues. Gay people can already have children in Australia. This is a legal right and can be achieved by many different means. Whether they are married or not has no bearing.

The reason gay parenting has been raised by the pro same sex marriage advocates is that these kids shouldn't be told by the anti lobby groups their parents are less able to raise children, or less worthy or that the children themselves are at a disadvantage.

The Australian Christian Lobby argues this case hard - but never once wraps that argument around the millions of single parents who are in the same exact situation as not having both a male and female parent present. Again, be honest if you are going to argue a case. This argument, by the inclusion of single parents, is quickly reduced to a nasty, emotive, manipulative straw man argument that is not on the topic of should same sex marriage be legalised.

If it wasn't a straw man argument and therefore null and void, you could argue that marriage between a gay couple provides the child or children with a better level of stability, security and legal surety, making it harder for a parent to leave the relationship. You could - but that would also be an adjunct to a straw man argument - so I won't.

Similarly, arguments like the wonderful, inclusive, loving Christian Arch Bishop who is up in arms because a change to the law may force him to teach same sex marriage in schools or other religious based organisations. Straw man argument - go away. This is a curriculum issue. If you want to teach your students about a world that doesn't exist, go ahead. The hard right conservatives are always looking for new members and the bright kids will see what's going on through things called windows. Christian schools do have windows, right?

Similarly, as I've argued in a blog post before, Here, if you feel your religious freedoms are being usurped by people next door doing things you don't like, don't include them/us. Just make sure you have the courage of your convictions and make this known. I would suggest a door sign that reads: "We do not support or welcome GLBTQ marriage in this church congregation."

I'd be far more assured about religion if all religious based programs were happy to lead by example instead of asking people to follow their words and not their deeds. Just like a plebiscite - the people of this ever changing, and I'm optimistic enough to believe, forward thinking nation, will vote with their feet on knowing your views.

Tradition is another good argument. Except that traditionally women weren't seen as equal, and are, as a result, still catching up in terms of representation at executive levels, equal pay and in Parliament. Also, Aboriginals were classed as part of Australia's flora and fauna until 1967 - so who isn't proud of tradition? Why should we ever change anything?

Come on - it's a pro gay blog - it must include a musical!

Tony Abbott, Australia's former Prime Minister and Alt-Right poster boy, has raised the idea that a 'No' vote is a vote against political correctness. That argument certainly is.

This is another classic straw man argument wheeled out by a man who is very smart, (A Rhodes Scholar no less), but not at all clever. This is a Trump supporter's view of the world. Abbott is one of the down trodden, privileged white citizens being oppressed by the world forcing him to accept others as equal. Equality for others is not oppression. Equality for others often does mean the privileged get less of the pie - but not less than an equal share. It's hard to argue in any way against equality. Those who do don't seem to understand what the word means.

It lessens the sanctity of marriage is another argument. Maybe some people do feel this. That's so sad. That you would love your wife or husband less because Tony and Guy from next door got married. Or you feel your marriage is less binding because Penny and Jude tied the knot. That feels a little like an excuse to get out of your own marriage to me - maybe you and your significant other should talk and not try to argue that your marriage is suddenly less binding because of what's going on with your neighbours.

Gay marriage is a form of gay privilege, is another argument getting a good work out. Ricky? Any thoughts?

As the arguments flow they get increasingly more desperate and disparate. More straw man and not the type of straw man who was a friend of Dorothy, a man looking to change and better himself.

This vote - if it turns out to be a legitimate vote - is about letting all couples in love marry. Period. (Thank you for that Spicey)

Let's call out the emotional rhetoric, the straw man arguments and any other arguments that are not based solely on that single question.

And once again I call out homophobia for what it is. It's fine not to like us - and I get not to like what you don't understand. It's hard to empathise with something that you have no connection to or understanding of. I genuinely don't have an issue with that or with you for feeling that way. What I do have an issue with is you dressing your lack of empathy and understanding up in different clothes and arguing on a range of emotive issues, designed to shield you from being honest about how you feel towards the GLBTQ community. If you don't like us and don't see us as equals - own it.

Don't use straw man arguments to hide your true motives - to stop people you don't consider equal from gaining equality.

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