The Silent Minority

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You, the majority – tell me your worries, your social issues, concerns and what troubles you. Tell me your day and what it involves, what are your priorities and what do you want to get out of today? What do you expect those answers to be? State your three daily social issues.

Now that you’ve done this, did marriage equality come up as one of your answers? On the forefront of social issues, it is unlikely that same-sex marriage is on the minds’ of Australians, particularly heterosexuals.

This is not to say heterosexuals are homophobic, most are not. Same-sex marriage is not their priority and it may never be. There are many more issues that heterosexuals face in their daily lives: their own families, employment, and financial stability. Much further down the list of daily needs and wants, same-sex marriage might appear.

In your local community, debates at local councils are primarily focused on better roads, parking, pathways, building permits, parks, environment (climate change), liquor/gaming licensing, and bins. In some left leaning councils you’ll find that climate change comes before same-sex marriage as policy. Both are for community sustainability, but climate change nearly always comes as a first priority over same-sex marriage, when surely the issue of marriage equality is more pertinent than climate change.

While most friends are supportive, occasionally in social situations, some of my heterosexual acquaintances may flippantly state: “I don’t care about same-sex marriage!” or “It’s not an issue for me”. These are bold statements that require a probing, poignant question. “ Tell me why?” more often the response is a multitude of answers:

‘It doesn’t affect me; I have no interest in voting for it either, why would I?

‘I don’t see the problem; it’s not hurting anyone, so just get married anyway without the law.

‘The government should just approve it – I don’t see what the big deal is.

‘You guys should be able to get married; I don’t understand why the Polly’s don’t accept it?

‘I’d accept it but you can’t make the churches marry you, you shouldn’t be allowed to tell the churches what to do

And on the rarest of occasions: “Gays can’t get married, It’s not right!”

There lies some of the ignorance. The issue of same sex marriage does affect heterosexuals. While heterosexuals can marry and homosexuals cannot, there is discrimination within the existing law. As a heterosexual person today, it is more than likely you have a family member (immediate or relation) who is homosexual, or know a friend, work colleague, sports colleague, celebrity, TV personality, or local MP that may be homosexual, who doesn’t have the same exclusive marriage rights that a heterosexual is entitled to today.

It should not be acceptable for politicians to continually state that gay marriage is not a main issue or concern for their electorate.

“The people of my community/electorate are not asking for same sex marriage”

It is abundantly clear why this is the case; there are more heterosexual people than there are homosexual (a scientific fact that the churches like to point out.) No particular electorate has more homosexual people in it than any other.

(Although, Sydney may feel like an exception: as we saw in the recent by-election with two of the candidates who are gay and pledged their campaigns on pro gay and same sex marriage platforms.)

As uninformed politicians and anti-gay marriage campaigners repeat this argument (quoted above), when will the electorate ever support same-sex marriage as a majority? The answer, more or less, is “never”, because of the proportionality of sexual orientation in each electorate. One would have to assume that a turning point  will occur when the minority views become the majority, as happened with the civil rights movement between the 1950s to 70s. For same-sex marriage, that time seemed to be now, until the recent federal bills were quashed in parliament.

Therefore, what comes next must solely come from the broad community; the support of same-sex marriage must come from heterosexuals now more than ever before. There are many existing pro gay and lesbian heterosexual ‘minority’ groups but that isn’t enough now.

As a minority within each electorate, homosexuals must have the support of the whole community, including their heterosexual counterparts, who see that a same-sex attracted person will never be able to share the same civil rights of marriage that they can. Homosexuals will never be able to walk down the aisle of a wedding with their father and their mother watching them marry their partner with their families.

It’s time for heterosexuals to rally behind homosexuals, get out their letters and petitions, join their local political group or lobby groups and implore their local MPs to back same-sex marriage. It is time for homosexuals to start engaging with their heterosexual friends, asking them to ask the government to bring about a cherished right that they’re already entitled to, that homosexuals and their families, friends and colleagues are not.

Without the support of the majority the minority may never win the rights the majority takes for granted. The silence of the gay minority is never a permanent moment in time. Heterosexuals are the silent majority on the issue of marriage equality; no more can they be silent.

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About the author

Carrington Brigham is an Online Strategy Consultant. Carrington is known online as DigitalMediaBoy for his insights into Politics, Digital Media and Technology. Carrington is a member of the Liberal party and hosts the Pink Liberals online community group 'Liberal, Proud & Gay'. Infrequently he blogs at www.digitalmediaboy.com and he can be found on twitter as @DigitalMediaBoy - Carrington also worked with Optus to kickstart the It Gets Better Campaign in Australia amongst the business community.