Same-Sex Marriage and Australian Democracy

 In U.S.

Go read today’s article for a globally minded take on the survey results. If you get the urge, and I hope you do, tell me what you think Australia has discovered about its politics and its sense of self through all of this at [email protected] and in our subscriber Facebook group.

Now here are a few of those outtakes, followed by a roundup of other Timesian work and a recommendation.

An Ugly Process

“The fact that a referendum on an issue such as equal access to marriage is allowed is in itself a problem with respect to the notion of democracy: as democracies, we rely on majorities to make decisions, and this gives us the enormous responsibility of protecting minorities and never allowing majorities to make decisions on fundamental rights of minorities.

Like other countries, Australia is a mix of people with very different beliefs, but this debate is a chance to become a better democracy through the recognition of the diverse identities of Australians and of the responsibility of establishing rules to protect the rights of minorities, and showing that these rights can never be subject to discretionary behavior.”

— Paulo Corte-Real, a Portuguese activist and economist who helped lead Portugal to approve same-sex marriage in 2009

A Weaker Right?

“It shows the influence of the conservative right is overstated because of their control of particular places in the media and the political hierarchies. And I think it gives some sort of hope to people that would like to see an opportunity to challenge the conservative right on issues like climate change, potentially — and also on issues like the treatment of refugees.

Just because the conservative voices control the network that a certain former Australian runs, it doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable to win those arguments.”

— Peter Lewis, progressive pollster with Essential Media Communications, a public affairs and research company

Love and ‘No’

“The same-sex marriage lobby have never really let the ‘no’ side express their case before. In the media and journalism, no offense, if you’re against gay marriage it’s a very negative thing in the profession.

Now the postal vote has occurred, we’re allowed to express our case. I think they’re freaking out over that, they’re not used to opposition. I think for the L.G.B.T.I. community, they’ve been sold a lie and if we disagree with same-sex marriage we hate them. But you can still disagree with someone and still love a person.”

Rob Assaf, 21, university student and “no” voter

Gay and Opposed to Marriage

“When I came out, being gay was about nonconformity and being different and not being the same as everyone else in society. Marriage is the ultimate in conformity. It’s just not my thing.

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