Eddie McGuire, Sunday Herald Sun
May 13, 2012
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama came out this week (pun intended) in support of same-sex marriage.
Wouldn't it have been great in the land of the fair go, Australia, if one of our leaders had beaten the US President to the punch.
Instead, we continue to listen to banal statements on the "sanctity of marriage" in a week when the Catholic Church claimed women should stop being "picky" about who they married.
A bit counter-intuitive, I would have thought, if the "sanctity" of marriage was to be upheld, just to settle for what you get.
It's funny, isn't it? The church can't get heteros to marry and won't allow the gays!
While I appreciate the US President has taken his time to come to his position on same-sex marriage, I don't understand how we put up with politicians, particularly our own, who pick and choose on who they discriminate against.
Racially vilify someone and the politicians get up in arms, publicly, as they should. But our politicians are happy to bang on about discriminating against gay people and get away with it.
In fact, it is a matter of pride.
Politicians are entitled to their own opinions but their job is to run the country and make Australia the best place it can possibly be.
The central tenet of this has to be giving every person an equal opportunity to enjoy their life.
Why would we promulgate anything that hurts and offends our fellow Australians?
At a time when youth suicide in Australia is the single biggest cause of death among Australians aged 12-24, surely we should be doing everything possible to help people find a contentment in their lives and live their lives naturally?
Headspace CEO Chris Tanti says: "If you're in that age group (12-24) and you are same-sex attracted, the chance you will attempt to or actually take your life increases fivefold.
"Many young people dealing with issues of sexuality feel like they aren't accepted in the community. To have the leader of the free world come out in support of their right to one day marry the person they love is huge."
In reply to the new position of President Obama, our Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "My view hasn't changed and when a bill comes into the parliament later this year, I won't vote for it."
That will be an interesting sight.
The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott and senior political leaders such as Bob Katter voting as a bloc to discriminate against Australians.
I hope I never hear any of them ever accuse anyone again
of "being un-Australian" or delivering a "fair go to all Australians" speech.
That Mr Abbott and Mr Katter have gay siblings shows the mind-numbing stupidity of this position. A position that when you take away the bigotry and the plain sloganeering just does not stand up to any intellectual rigour.
This whole thing reminds me of the years of self-flagellation our country went through before the "sorry" proclamation to our indigenous brothers and sisters.
In my white-bread world, I thought it was a sign of a strong, progressive country, an opportunity that had it been taken by former prime minister John Howard, would have rounded off his leadership and secured his place in history.
For all the hand-wringing and dodging of the question and shallow justifications not to apologise, the result was we made a large number of our population feel better about themselves and the country.
White and black. The world didn't stop turning. Yet when in central Australia late last year, the impact was enormous on indigenous people.
Students of foreign policy will remember in the 1970s that then-Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam made the bold step of visiting China, beating US president Richard Nixon, if only symbolically, to the march.
Prime Minister Gillard has missed a symbolic opportunity.
Since 2001, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina have all legalised same-sex marriages.
On many occasions, I have asked senior politicians about same-sex marriages and watched as they huff and puff and flail around. I'm yet to hear a coherent response.
Maybe it is time for a national debate on the society we want - progressive, caring, sophisticated and self-assured community looking deep into this century or one mired in hocus-pocus, Dark Ages bigotry. You can't have degrees of equality.
Maybe the question instead of being "Hands up those in favour of same-sex marriage" should be "Hands up those in favour of discrimination".
At least President Obama has made his position clear.
We deserve more explanation from our MPs than "because" in opposing this proposition.