Sorry, An­drew, your logic doesn’t stand up

Sunday Mail - - OPINION -

LIFE is about choices. Most weeks I choose not to read my col­league An­drew Bolt, al­though I know he’s one of the na­tion’s most pop­u­lar colum­nists.

It’s just that he tends to in­crease my heart rate (and not in a “Gee, he’s gor­geous” kind of way) and I usu­ally de­cide there’s no point wast­ing my en­ergy on neg­a­tiv­ity.

On Thurs­day, he pulled a swiftie, draw­ing me in with talk of love be­fore slap­ping me back to re­al­ity with the old Bolt back­han­der.

“Gay mar­riage ac­tivists are about to get from this pub­lic vote ex­actly what they fought so hard against. No, not hate. Love,” he wrote.

And yea for love over hate. But then he con­tin­ued: “Will they now say sorry to the Aus­tralian pub­lic they’d damned as big­ots?”

What the? By then it was too late. That das­tardly Bolt had my heart rate up.

Who’s he call­ing an ac­tivist? Ev­ery per­son in Aus­tralia who be­lieves in mar­riage equal­ity and isn’t afraid to say so?

Mums? Dads? Grand­mas? Bob Hawke? Tony Ab­bott’s daugh­ter? My 14-year-old sons and their friends who don’t un­der­stand the an­ti­quated con­cept that a gay per­son’s love isn’t as equal as a straight per­son’s love? Are they all ac­tivists?

Mr Bolt will have us be­lieve “ac­tivists” didn’t want a vote So Nick Xenophon is quit­ting fed­eral pol­i­tics to run in the state elec­tion. Let’s hope it fi­nally forces a con­test of ex­cit­ing ideas. As many have said, we need clear poli­cies from Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven Mar­shall – hell, maybe even a bold vi­sion on why to vote for him in­stead of sim­ply vot­ing for any­one but La­bor.

Mr Xenophon could give us some sub­stance, too. Since Fri­day, all we’ve heard from Lib­eral, La­bor and SA Best is that the other blokes are crap. Tell us some­thing we don’t know. We’ve also heard that the SA elec­tion just got in­ter­est­ing. But did it get bet­ter? be­cause they thought Aus­tralia was full of big­ots who’d over­whelm­ingly vote “No”. What a mealy-mouthed, di­vi­sive thing to write.

Nu­mer­ous polls in re­cent years have shown solid sup­port for same- sex mar­riage, so there was rea­son to hope a na­tional sur­vey would re­in­force that.

Those of us who crit­i­cised an ex­or­bi­tant, non-bind­ing ques­tion­naire did so be­cause: a) MPs should have done their job in­stead of pan­der­ing to a hand­ful of ul­tra-con­ser­va­tives in the Coali­tion; and b) It’s in­sult­ing to the peo­ple whose lives are open for de­bate.

Imag­ine ev­ery other adult in Aus­tralia get­ting an opin­ion on your right to marry?

Imag­ine hav­ing to tick a box to say whether you be­lieve your ex­is­tence is up to par?

And imag­ine hav­ing to lis­ten to the fear-mon­ger­ing of the “No” cam­paign when the in­sin­u­a­tions are so deeply per­sonal – hear­ing that al­low­ing you to marry could lead down a slip­pery slope to bigamy and the ero­sion of re­li­gious free­dom and free­dom of speech.

But for ev­ery neg­a­tive there’s a pos­i­tive, and the spon­ta­neous sup­port by ev­ery­day Aus­tralians in re­cent weeks re­ally has been some­thing such as:

THE 80,000-strong crowd go­ing wild at last week­end’s NRL Grand Fi­nal when US rap­per Mack­le­more sang his mar­riage equal­ity an­them Same Love, which for­mer PM and free­dom-of-speech ad­vo­cate Tony Ab­bott tried to have banned;

THE $300,000 do­nated to a char­ity for African school­girls af­ter Se­na­tor Cory Bernardi slammed Craig­burn Pri­mary School for en­cour­ag­ing male teach­ers and boys to wear dresses;

THE thou­sands who de­scended on Ade­laide’s Par­lia­ment House to sup­port mar­riage equal­ity.

It’s also heart­en­ing that more than nine mil­lion peo­ple (or al­most 60 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion) have al­ready re­turned their sur­vey forms, with five weeks to go and polls still favour­ing a “Yes” vote.

The rest of this week has been filled with the kind of world events that make you feel al­most over­whelmed by sad­ness: the Las Ve­gas mas­sacre with 58 dead (sadly, gun laws won’t change), the poor souls in Puerto Rico en­dur­ing the de­struc­tion of Hurricane Maria and the in­sults of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and Span­ish po­lice vi­ciously beat­ing ci­ti­zens of Cat­alo­nia try­ing to vote in an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum. It can all make you feel pow­er­less.

But if you still have a same-sex mar­riage sur­vey form sit­ting on your kitchen bench, you can ac­tu­ally make a pos­i­tive im­pact on your world.

If you re­ally need to say “No”, well, so be it. But think for a sec­ond how many hearts you will touch if the vote comes back on Novem­ber 15 as a re­sound­ing, up­lift­ing “Yes”.

Choose love.

AT LAST: Bode Mende and Karl Kreile kiss af­ter be­com­ing Ger­many's first gay cou­ple to be mar­ried dur­ing the week. It came af­ter Par­lia­ment cleared the way for the na­tion’s 94,000 same-sex cou­ples to marry. In­set, let­ter­boxes get the mes­sage across in Syd­ney.

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