After some of his recent ignorant efforts1,2; whenever I find an article written by Tom Switzer, I expect to see something so wide of the mark that it can often be mistaken for satire3. So, it was with significant trepidation that I read his latest effort in the Fairfax press4. It was a diatribe against the marriage equality ‘movement’. Switzer started this off with “Many important issues now can’t be debated openly without inspiring immediate hysteria. Same-sex marriage is one of them. Anyone who tries to defend traditional marriage – or even highlights the risks that the campaign poses to religious freedom – is instantly treated with shock and distaste”4. He doesn’t say what the other issues that engender hysteria are, and I could no more guess what he has in his, um, unusual mind, than do a triple somersault off a three metre board. There are several things wrong with his initial three sentences, which he seems not to realise.
Firstly, the hysteria to which Switzer refers is caused by the presumption of ‘No same-sex marriage’ campaigners that it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against someone because of who they are. These days it is about homosexuals being allowed to marry. It used to be about whether they could have same-sex partners, something which was illegal. Some churches campaigned against the legalisation of homosexuality and argued for discrimination against homosexual couples5. Prior to that, it was whether black people could marry each other. In Western Australia blacks were prevented from marrying blacks so they would be absorbed into the white population. In 1935, the ‘half-caste women of Broome’ had to petition the Western Australian Parliament to ask to be allowed to marry whom they chose. In Queensland blacks were prevented from marrying whites to prevent miscegenation6. If someone who, favouring reintroduction of race-based laws, expressed such views, I imagine that even Tom Switzer would bridle at them. I certainly would tend to become hysterical at the thought of someone in the 21st century having such views, let alone expressing them.
Secondly, “defending traditional marriage”1 is simply a euphemism for preventing same-sex marriage; i.e. bigotry. It is effectively stating that because you are homosexual you are not equal to a heterosexual; you do not deserve to be treated equally. In the preceding sentence, change homosexual to ‘black’ and heterosexual to ‘white’, and then you will understand why people get upset. A black or white person cannot change their skin colour, any more than a homosexual or a heterosexual can change their sexual orientation.
Thirdly, the ‘risks’ to ‘religious freedom’ is a furphy7. If you are bigoted enough to refuse to make a wedding cake, sell a wedding dress, book a wedding venue, or perform a wedding ceremony for a same-sex couple, that is your prerogative under the proposed legislation. If someone refused to do these things for people of other religions or other skin colours, I would think much the same of them, and that would be complete contempt. I will tolerate almost anything, except bigotry.
What Switzer seems not to realise is that people get hysterical at the assumption the religious make; that they have the right to tell others how to live their lives and the rights they can and cannot have. Those days are over, and the sooner Switzer realises it, the better.