Same-sex marriage debate is making us petty and soft

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Beyond the Instagram posts, emojis and stories of love, there is a dark underbelly to the same-sex marriage postal plebiscite.

Many of us feared that the debate would turn ugly; in fact when you have a subject as emotive as this one, it was never in doubt.

And yet the Government proceeded anyway. It will forever be a stain on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership that he allowed this postal vote to happen and divide the country the way it has.

It has directed the news narrative for months now unnecessarily; all because a Government – that would be comfortable in making a decision within the confines of Parliament to send us to war – couldn’t debate this possible legislation change sensibly and properly in Canberra and actually do what we pay them to do.

And so we have reached farcical levels with this whole thing.

We’ve also exposed just how petty and soft we are as a nation at times.

We had the Facebook generation outraged when the words ‘Vote No’ were plastered all over the sky; unable to accept that it is everyone’s right to have an opinion and express that view. I have no doubt that if the tables were turned and ‘Vote Yes’ was in the sky instead, same-sex marriage supporters would have celebrated and cheered.

We have sporting organisations and businesses who want to back the yes campaign being vilified. We have Tony Abbott being headbutted. We have media commentators sprouting opinions often not based on fact or any substance.

On Wednesday, 2GB’s Steve Price was outraged because Macklemore may well sing a particular song that supports marriage equality at the Grand Final.

Seriously, he happens to have a song that pushes for equal rights – and that song happens to be one of his hits. Let’s now blow this thing up into the NRL trying to push an agenda.

And to top it all off, we’ve suddenly become offended at getting an unsolicited text message.

The whole debate has turned us petty and soft.

I mean seriously, I still get text messages from a barber I went to once nearly 10 years ago – not to mention the calls I get from call centres both here and overseas trying to sell me something. Are we seriously going to pretend we were that offended by the infamous text message?

Next thing you know we’ll all be getting catalogues and flyers in our letterbox we didn’t order!

Invasion of privacy? If you think that’s an invasion of privacy imagine having the validity of your love decided upon by the entire country.

In all of this, we have forgotten the people.

Imagine being a gay person right now watching this unfold. Imagine watching your love and rights being discussed like it is just another everyday topic for a morning TV program.

No matter where you sit on this debate, surely we can all agree on one thing – this whole thing is very, very sad and ever so slowly, getting out of control.

Like many others, I’ve now had enough of it.

Illustration: Paul Dorin

I’m as equally frustrated with the no campaign as I am with the yes campaign.
Even though I’ve made it quite clear I support marriage equality and in fact proudly posted off my yes vote earlier this week, I can’t say the ‘ram it down people’s throats’ method is the one I would have gone with.

On the same token when I see those awful TV ads promoting the no campaign, I cringe.

I can only imagine how much this is frustrating and annoying fence-sitters who are probably being swayed day by day by the rhetoric from both sides of the debate.

Eventually they will just be swayed into not voting at all.

I think we’ll all be glad when this whole thing is over and we have a result – but I think most of us realise this isn’t going to be all that clear cut.

It’ll be close, and with participating not mandatory, it’ll be hard for the Government to say it has a mandate from the public based on what the result of the survey ends up being.

That will simply create the next wave of debate and controversy over a subject that never needed to become such a talking point in the first place.

Same-sex marriage, long after it is given the tick of approval, could yet haunt Malcolm Turnbull.

How he could let such a divisive and ugly debate take place under his leadership is simply extraordinary.

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