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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Australia

Part 19:
2016: Public opinion surveys on the
referendum & marriage equality.
Concerns about the referendum.
Two You Tube videos on
marriage equality: pro and con.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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Throughout this web site, "SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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map of Australia National surveys of the LGBT community and of the general population about the referendum and marriage equality:

A national survey of LGBTIQ Australians was sponsored by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. PFALG is a group of LGBT allies who advocate for marriage equality and acceptance of sexual minorities. They received responses from 5,500 members of the LGBT community. This is an enormous number when compared to most public opinion polls. As a result, the margin of error of the results was quite small: ±1.3 percentage points.

Unfortunately, those responding to the survey were self-selected, and might not represent an accurate sampling of LGBT community opinion. They survey results were:

  • 84.7% were opposed to a referendum on marriage equality; 71.5% were strongly opposed.

  • 9.9% supported a plebiscite; 6.5% strongly supported it;

  • 5.4% were undecided or didn't answer.

  • 57.8% were opposed to a plebiscite even if it was "fairly framed" and "was the only way that marriage equality could be achieved under the [current Government] Coalition."

  • When informed the results of a plebiscite would not be binding on MPs, 89.1 per cent of participants said they supported a vote in Parliament for same-sex marriage, while 7.7 per cent supported a plebiscite. 1

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In contrast, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll released the results of its most recent poll of the general Australian adult population just before election day on 2016-JUL-01. They found:

  • 70% of voters supported marriage equality. This is an increase from their previous poll in 2015-AUG which found 69% support. However, the shift over the 11 months between the polls was well within the polls' margins of error and thus is not statistically significant.

  • 58% of Coalition voters, 79% of Labor voters and 97% of Greens voters support gay marriage. The results from the Greens party is the largest level of support for marriage equality that we have ever seen of any group anywhere in the world. 2

Rodney Croome, who founded Australia Marriage Equality in 2004 said:

"There are clear concerns about the indignity of our rights being subject to a show of hands and the negative impact of hate speech on the mental health of LGBTIQ people, especially when the plebiscite result won't be binding [on members of Parliament]. I strongly believe the government's line that it's a plebiscite or nothing is a false choice and that it is possible to stop a plebiscite and have a free vote if sane heads prevail in government ranks and in the Senate." 1

With emotions running at such a high level, sanity may be an unreasonable expectation.

A Fairfax-Ipsos poll during 2016-JUL found that 69 percent of all voters supported a plebiscite over a parliamentary vote. 3 With such a large majority in favor of a plebiscite, one can understand why the government would favor that path.

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Concern about a "Brexit Trap" over marriage equality:

Ryan Goss, writing for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) compared the recent Brexit Plebiscite in the UK and the proposed marriage equality plebiscite in Australia. The UK plebiscite asked voters whether they wanted Britain to leave the European Union. By a narrow margin, they chose to leave. Unfortunately, the public did not know precisely what would happen, and when, if the majority voted to leave.

Goss recommends that the referendum on marriage equality should state precisely what the amendments to the Marriage Act would be. For example that opposite-sex and same-sex couples could marry; the minimum age requirement for a license would be unchanged; restrictions on couples who are related to each other would be unchanged; clergy could continue to freely refuse to marry any couple for any reason, etc. 4

Many people worry about angry and bitter debates preceding the vote. Many in the LGBT community passionately seek the status of marriage. Many religious and social conservatives are sincerely worried about the side effects of changing the basic structure of marriage to include same-sex couples. Others are concerned about abuse and denigration of members of the LGBT community during debates and advertising leading up to the plebiscite that might cause widespread depression and even suicide ideation. MP Penny Wong (Labor) suggests that the lead up to a public vote would "licence hate speech." Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) suggested that it might be better to delay any action on marriage equality rather than to have same-sex couples symbolically "walking over bodies as ...[they] walk down the aisle." 5

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Australian Marriage Equality produced the following You Tube video in favor of equality:

 6

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Dr David van Gend, president of the Australian Marriage Forum, delivered a talk in opposition to marriage equality:

 7

Additional You Tube videos about same-sex marriage in Australia can be found by searching You Tube's web site at: https://www.youtube.com/

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This topic is continued in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Tom McIlroy, "Biggest ever study of LGBTIQ Australians finds 85% oppose plebiscite on same-sex marriage," The Age/Federal Politics, 2016-AUG-01, at: http://www.theage.com.au/
  2. Clint McGilvray, "Media Release: Australia backs marriage for all," Australian Marriage Equality, 2016-JUL-02, at: https://www.australianmarriageequality.org/
  3. Tom McIlroy, "Solid LGBTIQ opposition to plebiscite" Press Reader, 2016-AUG-02, at: http://www.pressreader.com/
  4. Ryan Goss, "Will there be a 'Brexit trap' in the same sex marriage plebiscite?, " Australian Broadasting Corp, 2016-AUG-02, at: http://www.abc.net.au/
  5. Annika Smethurst, "Disunity on how to vote threatens to damage same-sex marriage debate," The Advertiser, 2016-AUG-04, at: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/
  6. Australian Marriage Equality, "Marriage Equality - What It's all about! " You Tube, 2012-SEP-02, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  7. Dr David van Gend, "Vote for 'marriage equality' & you get a radical package deal," You Tube, 2016-MAY-30, at: https://youtu.be/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-AUG-04
Latest update: 2016-SEP-25
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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