Gay marriage debate fail – both sides

Gay marriage, as an issue, is everywhere – I see it in the Op-Ed pages, in the Letters pages, it’s certainly all over Twitter. The latter goes especially mad during the ABC’s programme QandA.

But all of these mediums are one way only. Aussies are spurting out their opinions, nearly all of them pro-gay marriage, and there is very little real debate going on. It’s not happening between our campainingleaders, not between friends or, as far as I can tell, within families.

I have two problems with this.

Where are the people speaking up for marriage as it stands, those who want it to stay between just a man and a woman? So far, the spokespeople all seem to be politicians. You could assume they are all Christians or religious types; this accounts for Fred Nile, Tony Abbott and probably Family First’s gaffe-tastic Wendy Francis,  but that is a generalisation and it doesn’t explain Penny Wong or PM Julia Gillard or much of middle Australia who are not church-going ‘religious types’.

I asked a good Christian ethicist I know for his reasons Christians might oppose gay marriage. He did so but articulating it was difficult even for him. It’s a difficult, complicated issue for Christians. Their views, I’m guessing, can’t be put across in a few sentences, let alone a soundbite, and with so much vitriol coming from the opposing side, who would be game to stand up and speak?

(I, for my part, am continuously looking into this issue, questioning Christians, gay friends and reading books on the topic. Last weekend I had a good discussion with two people at a work party about the ins and outs of it (!))

Secondly, I am concerned at the way many gay marriage proponents approach the topic.  Much of the time it seems like ‘if we just shout louder…’ a method that only stands to silence any alternate views.

In this matter, Twitter, particularly, is getting on my nerves.

Penny Wong’s treatment on Twitter after she toed the Labor line on gay marriage was appalling. Those people apparently supportive of her rights performed the online version of a firing squad.

Be they homosexual or just supportive of gay rights, Penny dared voice a stance not their own and they pounced with enough bile to supply a Latham family Christmas.

Is it too much to ask for people on either to show a hint of decorum? Twitter is a brief communication device but it’s not wholly anonymous and it’s allegedly attracting the more professional, social, mature parts of the population.

If you slander religious types, how are you any better than they if they slander homosexuals?

This basic point is being list on some people who should know a lot better.

Just tonight, one popular political commentator did tweet:
These bloody religious types. Who are they to suggest that people who don’t share their superstitions should be the ones on the defence?

The reverse is also clear and true. If you are religious (a repulsive word to me, a Christian, but alas) then you should know better – your religion says ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. That teaching appears in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and hey, probably even Scientology.

Now, MSBC TV opinionist Rachel Maddow is someone I am growing to like very much. Two times I have wanted to quote her – and that’s just today, so far.

Watch Maddow’s great intro to this story here to see what I am getting at. To me, it defines most of the gay marriage debate so far in Australia.

Maddow says this: When you argue against someone by calling that person names or by saying that the person you’re arguing with is a bad person, that’s called arguing ad hominum. it is to cast judgment on a person’s argument by casting judgment on the person making the argument. Here’s a perfect example. It is a fallacy. It’s avoiding the point to be insulting instead. Here’s a different type of logical fallacy.

So please, if you have a view and you’re prepared to share it on this sensitive topic, why not treat the topic as sensitive?

If this doesn’t happen soon, I fear the gulf between the two sides of this topic may widen and see public discussion of gay marriage as even harder to arrange than getting Gillard and Abbott to have a real debate.

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