Abridged version of John Dickson's Facebook post which Facebook deleted and then apologized for and reinstated:
"I think I detect a pattern of argumentation over same-sex marriage today that could be harming gay and lesbian youth but which is partly the fault of those advocating for same-sex marriage in the public media.
It is true that demeaning insults were once part of the stock language against the entire LGBTI community in the public square. I can only imagine the damage that did to young (and old) people wrestling with their sexuality. It is a terrible part of our recent Australian history. God, forgive us!
But we don't see many demeaning insults directed at the LGBTI community in the public square nowadays. I am not talking about in the schoolyard or at the pub, where I am sure deep problems of language and behaviour persist. I am talking about the public square - in newspapers, on TV, and on the radio.
Whether on The Project or Q&A, most of the anger, intemperate language, and open spite comes from advocates of same-sex marriage against traditionalists. Defenders of classical marriage - even if they are wrong and loopy - on the whole seem to have learned to engage in the contest of ideas with respect and civility. This is the one upside of having made so many mistakes in the past: we can see the harm we've done and try do something about it.
There is an intriguing pattern in public debates about gay marriage. At the climax of many of these discussions, as advocates of same-sex marriage raise their voices and deliver their insults, they frequently declare with unnoticed irony something like, "And this is precisely why we shouldn't have a plebiscite on gay marriage. Look how negative and hate-filled the discussion becomes. This can only reinforce feelings of rejection among LGBTI youth." Apparently, there has been a recent surge in calls to LGBTI helplines. Something terrible does indeed seem to be happening.
Following Telstra's recent statement that it would no longer publicly advocate for same-sex marriage (before reversing the decision), the president of Melbourne's Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise (GLOBE), David Micallef, released a statement slamming the telco for bowing to perceived pressure from the Roman Catholic Church.
GLOBE pledged to cancel its Telstra phone services and no longer accept financial support from the company. Micallef added:
I have been concerned by the hate-filled discussion that this news from Telstra has generated and the negative impact it has already had on LGBTI people in the community.
I read, watched, and listened to as much of the media discussion that week as I could, and I detected no hate-filled speech at all from defenders of classical marriage, though there was a lot of open spite from the critics of Telstra.
I am left fearing that what Micallef really means is that disagreeing with gay marriage is itself hate speech. We have come to the point in the discussion where you can be described as bigoted, hateful, and demeaning toward others simply for articulating the view that "marriage" is a unique word to describe the unique bond between a man and a woman in hope of creating and nurturing their own offspring. There is a large intellectual blind spot here, that probably deserves its own analysis. But my fear is more practical.
By heightening the spiteful tone of the debate and constantly emphasising the bigotry traditional marriage advocates allegedly hold toward the LGBTI community, public advocates of same-sex marriage may be unwittingly entrenching in young gay and lesbian people the feeling that there is something wrong with them. After all, they are being encouraged to believe that a whole segment of Australian society despises them and regards them as second-class citizens.
Older LGBTI warriors no doubt have good reason for feeling spiteful, and their sense of being scorned is historically and personally grounded. I am really talking about contemporary media advocates of same-sex marriage - frequently seen on Q&A or The Project, or preaching their message on Twitter - who equate opposition to same-sex marriage with hatred, pure and simple.
It is their message I fear has the potential to harm not just healthy debate but human beings. By insisting that traditional marriage advocates hate gays and lesbians, these well-intentioned same-sex marriage advocates may be exacerbating the feelings of LGBTI youth that they are indeed hated.
But imagine an alternative. If same-sex marriage advocates chose tomorrow to emphasise in public debate that, whatever the faults of history, it is entirely possible in the present to disagree with same-sex marriage and genuinely care for LGBTI people, isn't it possible that young gay and lesbian listeners would be spared some of the harm any debate would cause? If calm and respectful discussion was the order of the day, instead of tribalism and slurs, from whichever side, wouldn't LGBTI youth feel better about who they are and less "under attack" from other segments of society?
I realise I see all this through the lenses of classical Christian convictions and centuries of social power. I have tried to assess my motives and look at this from the perspective of others. And still I am left wondering if same-sex marriage advocates bear as much responsibility as traditional marriage advocates for ensuring that LGBTI youth are not harmed in the lead up to any plebiscite."
Dr John Dickson is an author and historian and the Founding Director of the Centre for Public Christianity.
Every child comes from and needs BOTH a mother and a father. Same-sex "marriage" intentionally keeps either a mother or a father from the child. Government should protect the child through upholding traditional marriage.
Please Speak Up Australia. Defend Children and Freedom.
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