“A question or topic such as this should be considered based on its own meaning, value and consequences, and not by the behaviour of its proponents or detractors,” writes John Ryan in his thoughtful essay on these pages, explaining why he won’t be voting at all, despite supporting the yes case.
I beg to differ on one crucial point. Behaviour is a matter of character, especially on a ‘topic such as this’, and I am not alone in having been scared off the idea of SSM by the behaviour of those who most stridently, aggressively and intolerantly support it. The meaning, value and consequences of legalised same sex marriage are indeed what should be considered – but it is the behaviour, therefore the character, of those vilifying ‘no’ voters that is of great concern.
It is not unreasonable to expect these proponents to remain strident, to maintain the rage as it were, if the outcome is ‘yes’, emboldened by the fact that the law is then underpinning their cause. The reasonable members of the LGBTI community (the silent majority, I suspect) will be irrelevant to the vociferous continuation of Safe Schools-style social engineering, reaching into the family home. That’s why so many have expressed fears about ‘consequences’ – some of which are observed already, with sackings and silencing, demanding all to conform …
The call for legal protections for religions, while entirely justified, is all very well, but just as you can’t legislate against stupidity, you can’t legislate against prejudice. Those examples of personal vilification against opponents of same sex marriage we have already seen will not disappear just because it is illegal to vilify or intimidate. These are subjective measures, in any case. There are so many subtle but powerful ways such prejudice can be exercised; the law will be unable to prevent it.
Those whose character inclines to it will continue to pose a threat to 18 year old ‘no’ voting nannies, say, and to other vulnerable individuals and organisations. Already, employees at most major corporations (and some smaller ones) feel intimidated by the rainbow culture imposed by management. If you dissent (you heretic), you may well be required to undergo ‘re-education’ to fall in line with the law. People who wish to impose doctrines are intolerant of alternative views, seeing them as a danger to their control. That’s in their character. We are seeing their character now.
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