Politically, the ACL is an ally!
It’s not hard to predict the reaction most people will have reading that headline but I am being very sincere. The A.C.L. and the Conservative/Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians, such as those Presbyterians who did not join the Uniting church, Sydney Anglicans, many Baptists, and some in the Uniting church, really are valuable assets to the causes of Marriage Equality and LGBTI civil rights. How so? Ok let me explain my reasoning and I invite you to suspend judgment momentarily.
Let me firstly say I am looking at this purely from a political perspective. Do they, the ACL and Evangelicals, harm and cause distress to LGBTI people – especially youth – with their hate filled preachings and media statements? Absolutely, and I only wish there was a way to hold them directly accountable for the actual harm they do to real people in our community. One day I hope to see practitioners of ‘Gay Reparative Therapies’ publicly shamed and made liable for huge compensation payouts.
So back to the title and let me see if I can explain why I think this is the case. Several weeks ago Lyle Shelton from the ACL appeared on Q&A. In the lead up to this appearance my FaceBook came alive with opinions ranging from “how could the ABC give air time to a hate merchant” to “ he should be allowed to state his opinion”. Personally I made the case for the ABC not to indulge him on such a public platform. In hindsight I firmly believe I was wrong. It was the best thing that could have happened.
After the episode had aired I happened to be at the Coffee Club in DFO near Brisbane Airport. I could not help but eavesdrop on the conversation of a group of mothers taking time out from shopping. The discussion turned to Q&A the night before. Most of my effort was directed at keeping a straight face as these ladies from middle Australia gave Lyle a bucketing. Some of the comments were “how does it affect my marriage?” and “I wish David looked after himself like some gay guys I have seen” to “there is a gay couple who bring their little girl to my Day Care centre” with the climax being “don’t his opinions (Lyle’s) make him such an ugly man”.
The mistake the A.C.L. and the Evangelicals are making is that Australia is a secular and egalitarian society by its very make-up. By nature the average Australian has a well developed sense of “fairness” and rejects extremism. I have no doubt back in the 60s, 70s & 80s politically attacking “gays” could be a very real vote winner, but times have changed. LGBTI people are out and proud. It would be hard to find someone now who doesn’t know and like someone from the LBGTI community. They can be Fathers, Mothers, Daughters, Sons, Brothers, Sisters, Work Mates; and the list goes on and on. Even the Catholics know if you are going to resist Marriage Equality do it privately such as the recent letters to Telstra, Qantas and SBS just to name a few.
To steal a line from a song Oh lord it’s hard to be humble (which I found amusing as a kid), “to know me is to love me”. Australians now feel very comfortable with gay people and have grown to love them. The tags the bigots throw at us just don’t stick any more. Especially female Australians! Now gay bars are seen as great venues for “Hens Nights.” Articles in women’s magazines suggest “every woman should have a gay best friend”, and Mardi Gras is arguably Sydney’s largest cultural event. When it comes to the battle for public support we have won. It’s just a waiting game, as frustrating as that is and will continue to be.
So every time you see Vile Lyle on TV or the latest Iceberg ad from the bigots and homophobes, see it for what it is. It’s another reminder to the average fair-minded Australian that “only extremists” oppose Marriage Equality and wish to withdraw programmes that save lives at school…. because they are Extreme.
We will have Marriage Equality sooner or later, as that battle has already been won. The best part is, after that happens, the A.C.L. and the Sydney Anglicans just will not matter anymore. They will be irrelevant.