I am at the heart of Australia's No campaign regarding same-sex "marriage" and yet I experience same-sex attraction. I am labelled as bigoted, homophobic, and discriminatory and yet in the past I have risked imprisonment fighting for gay rights.
Few people realise that a significant percentage of Australia’s “out and proud” gay men and women are quietly voting No. These true-blue Australians see that at its core this ballot is not about love, equality or discrimination but about every Australian’s present and future freedoms, especially those of children, safeguarded for us in bygone years through the untimely deaths of ANZACs.
These same-sex attracted men and women tell me they are voting No because they believe that wherever possible children have the right to know and be cared for by their biological parents in line with Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They want this relationship upheld and safeguarded at all costs. Understandably, many oppose any increase of commercial surrogacy and gay parenting, an obvious by-product of legalising same-sex marriage.
Others see marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman which cannot be replicated by two people of the same sex through a civil or religious ceremony, and thereby should not promulgate a lie by taking on the same name.
Sadly, most gays and lesbians only dare share online with me their reasons for voting No for fear of being bashed by Yes supporters. If homosexuals fear speaking openly about deeper underlying issues – and they do – then clearly Australia’s postal ballot is not simply about two people of the same-sex desiring to marry. Neither is it about some hidden religious agenda as Western Australia’s Convenor for Marriage Equality and former Democrats Senator Brian Greig would have people believe.
Many gay people wisely foresee that Australians’ basic freedoms of speech, expression, religion and association will be under threat as a result of the words husband and wife being removed from the Marriage Act and replaced with the union of any two people. They rightly fear significant and even catastrophic consequences such as the dissolution of male and female across society, with its damaging effects across the school curriculum and into the family home as is being seen across Canada, the USA and the UK where radical gay sex education is becoming obligatory.
Of course, most worrying of all is that no one fully knows what changes the Australian Government and its lobbyists will make to federal laws should a Yes vote dominate. No one should be surprised therefore when members of the gay community also wisely recognise that saying No is often necessary for the common good. Every serious parent instinctively knows this.
Conversations nationwide are showing me that society is eager to better understand the lives of same-sex attracted and gender-questioning people. This is a hugely positive point. However, opportunities for dialogue remain crippled while Yes voters continue to bitterly squash and mock the expression of differing opinions whilst emitting an onslaught of belittling names upon No voters.
Removing rainbow-tinted spectacles and defusing the aggressive, fundamentalist doctrine of gay ideology might just open a doorway towards a greater social integration for all Australians.
The truth is that every nation at any given time lives under one belief system or another. Australians have a choice: to continue to live within the balanced confines of their proven Judeo-Christian heritage, or to exchange this for the increasingly repressive ever-changing religion of rainbow revolutionaries.
David Meagher, editor of The Australian’s Wish magazine, recently wrote of “divisions emerging within the gay community”, of friends “fighting with each other and disagreeing” and “fighting with their straight friends, colleagues and families”. Many, he says, see the postal ballot as “nothing more than a national opinion poll on whether it’s ok to be gay”.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, this postal vote is birthing an unforeseen unity among grassroots Australians. Those voting No from every strand of society are standing together as the real Yes camp, campaigning to protect the present and future freedoms of every Australian, including those experiencing same-sex attraction. What is promoted as dividing our nation is actually delivering purpose, values and mateship at the very heart of communities.
Gay men and women engaged in the No campaign report finding a welcome, belonging and respect that they have searched for and never quite found within the LGBTI community.
Notably, no protest followed the hundreds of changes made in 2008 by the Federal Government to 85 laws which eradicated any discrimination and ensured that every de facto homosexual couple had exactly the same legal rights as every de facto heterosexual couple. These included hospital access, medical decision making, superannuation, inheritance rights, property tax, landlord and tenancy rights, mental health treatment and victims of crime procedures. Those inside and outside of the LGBTI community welcomed these changes with every Australian couple then being declared equal.
Australia’s postal vote on marriage has never been about the equality of gay and lesbian couples. A quiet yet resilient nod was given to that question years ago. No. This debate is about preserving the communal freedoms of every Australian whatever their sexual attraction, and the best environment for raising future generations.
The lucky country already has it really good. Let’s just hope it doesn’t mess it up now.
James Parker is a former gay activist who today supports same-sex attracted people and their loved ones.