Whatever your view on the same-sex marriage laws, I think the process has shown free speech is in jeopardy.
There is a challenge facing the old slogan, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
When the marriage postal survey results went public, many in politics, entertainment and the media referred to the 61.6 per cent “Yes” win as a victory that was “overwhelming”, and even called a “landslide”.
If the postal vote had have been an exam in most Australian universities, contrary to all appearances, the “Yes” vote would not have exactly scored a “High-Distinction”, nay, not even a “Credit”, but been awarded merely a “Pass”.
The university in Rome that awards the theology degree I studied seven years for required a mark of 60 per cent just for a Pass, so 61.6 per cent is just scrapping through.
Under the new laws, we “ministers of religion” will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages, but other celebrants will, regardless of any objection in their conscience.
Is this freedom?
Last year’s Census showed the majority of Australians are Christians (52.1 per cent).
Now it would be untenable in the minds of non-Christians and Christians alike that those who do not believe in Christianity should be forced to believe in Christianity, just because the majority hold this belief.
I know the debate is over and the law was passed 8th December 2017. But look at how we got to that day and you’ll see the path was anything but immaculate.
Labor and the Greens block a plebiscite in the Senate so that they could decide the issue, not the public. So we have a postal survey instead, which some politicians proclaimed they would ignore if the “No” vote won.
Government departments required by law to support current law and remain neutral in political and moral debates did the opposite.
In a debate that used “equality” to justify it’s purpose, we saw the “Yes” vote receive an unequal share of funding and even 100 per cent of the funding as gave the Lord Mayor of Sydney.
Attorney-General George Brandis claimed this new law ended centuries of prejudice and ridicule.
Strange given 10 years ago many same-sex couples and the Mardi Gras were the ones ridiculing marriage as being archaic, slavery, chauvinistic and “just a piece of paper”.
You may disagree with the above, but with any major social change the loss of human rights is always a possibility, in spite of our best intentions. The right to freedom is a human right. If we cannot speak our beliefs, we are no longer free.