A voluntary, non-binding open letter to former prime minister Tony Abbott

Dear Mr Abbott,

It is right to give you praise for your compelling, although inadvertent arguments, for ending the outlawing of same-sex marriage.

Your piece on our opinion pages last week was such a masterful mix of lies, baseless assertions, illogical contortions and brazen inversions, I could kiss you for it.

You write that it's important to maintain "intellectual integrity". "Like most, I have tried to be there for friends and family who are gay." (Decent of you. They must have been grateful.)

``They are good people who deserve our love, respect and inclusion but that doesn't mean that we can't continue to reserve the term 'marriage' for the relationship of one man with one woman, ideally for life and usually dedicated to children." (The "but" is utterly unreasoned.)

"I want a country where everyone gets a fair go ..." (Problem is your actions have created a credibility deficit for you on this one with Australia's 2-million-plus queer community, their families and friends and the millions more who support marriage equality) "...and where no one is discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, religion, political opinion or sexuality."  (George Orwell – who knew a thing or two about the way language could be manipulated and subverted – would have wanted to kiss you, too.)


``It's a long time, thank God, since gay people have been discriminated against and just about everyone old enough to remember that time is invariably embarrassed at the intolerance that was once common." (Bangs head on desk. LGBTI young people, for example, endure far more bullying and persecution than their heterosexual peers, and consequently suffer tragically elevated rates of mental ill-health, self-harm and death by suicide.)

``Same sex couples in a settled domestic relationship have exactly the same rights as people who are married." No, Mr Abbott, they do not.   

``This debate is about changing marriage, not extending it. And if you change marriage, you change society; because marriage is the basis of family; and family is the foundation of community." (Humanity is the foundation of community.)

"So far, it's the supporters of change, not the opponents, who've been responsible for bullying and hate speech." (An insulting perversion of reality. The children of same-sex couples have been denigrated as a "stolen generation" at heightened risk of sexual abuse. These families are being told they are dangerous, abnormal and inferior to those of heterosexual couples, the only category worthy of marriage. Further, you are in effect saying a victim who stands up to a bully is actually the guilty party.) 

``No one is saying that one type of loving relationship is better than another, just that they can be different. By all means, let's find a way to solemnise what is intended to be a sacrificial love between two people of the same sex; but it remains a different love even though it's not a lesser one." (Once again the "but" doesn't make sense.)

 ``When big businesses from Uber, to Subway, to the makers of Magnum ice cream are virtue signalling on same-sex marriage, it's time to say that political correctness has got completely out of hand and to vote `no' to stop it in its tracks." (This is not about freedom of religion or speech, nor about political correctness. It is about human liberty; the only thing that will happen when we join most of the rest of the industrialised world, is people in love will get married.) 

When one strips away all the obfuscation and dissembling, the only conclusion that stands the intellectual scrutiny you claim to champion is that you discriminate against non-heterosexuals. There is no justification for that.

In his novel, Animal Farm, George Orwell nails the unfairness of those who seek to maintain control: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

The following is an excerpt of some writing published on Facebook by my mother, a committed Christian who studies theology and is a specialist in early childhood development.

"I write as a grandparent of two young people who we love dearly and who are exemplary humans. They are kind, compassionate and caring, as well as showing a tremendous joy of life, maturity beyond their years, and who are wonderful contributors at school, university and in the wider community.

"We are similarly proud of their parents, two mothers who have raised their children within a loving, stable and consistent family environment, as well as a wider extended family, friend and neighbourhood environment … How I wish our parliamentarians had taken courage, acted with love and shown they would not allow children and their families to be the target of hate, vitriol and misinformation.

"What is Australia doing to itself? What is it doing to so many children and adults who simply wish to be given the same opportunity, value, respect and love, as are others in our country? Where is the example of Jesus?"

Mr Abbott?

Michael Short is The Age's chief editorial writer and a columnist.


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