Should we get married? Please tick the box
By Elise Ives
Ives, Elise z5016678 Media Article 1 H12A
The battle for equal love has been a tried and tested issue in Australia and the world for as long as many of us can remember. As multiple countries around the globe have jumped on the bandwagon of same-sex marriage equality, Australia continues to lag behind in the issue due to political uncertainty and negligence.
Aside from the multiples bills attempted to be passed on this issue in Australian history, the most recent movement within the political agenda has been the plebiscite, which encourages the Australian public to vote for or against the same-sex marriage law to be passed. Similarly to most controversies in history, the issue cannot technically have a correct or incorrect answer indefinitely, but the opinions can often favour to one direction as “the fair thing to do”. The parties involved in this issue all have agendas on the matter, which provide for interesting analysis in argumentation and opinion pieces. Three political news articles provide insight into the whereabouts of the plebiscite to date and the opinions on where important parties stand behind them for the same-sex marriage bill to be passed. The two timely articles by Tom McIlroy and Jared Owens provide insight into the plebiscite standing in the current period and political opinion on this, which I believe to be interestingly contrasted by an opinion article by Michael Jensen, which although taken from 2015, opposes same-sex marriage and works in alignment with the proposition of an opinion poll on the matter.
The collection of articles provides insight into the generalised opinion on the passing of the same-sex marriage bill within Australia from political as well as individual viewpoint. In relation to the plebiscite, the viewpoints correlate in line with one another as the overall vote in the plebiscite will be individual, and so this is why it is important to consider a variety of attitudes.
Jared Owen’s article ‘Greens to block same-sex marriage plebiscite’ published in ‘The Australian’ in late August 2016 provides an insight on where the Greens party stands in terms of the plebiscite and their opposition to it. The article uses opposing opinions from member of the Greens party, Richard Di Natale and Liberal MP Tim Wilson to create an argument against specific party views. Richard Di Natale states:
“The Greens won’t support this waste of money that is designed to delay equality and give a megaphone to hate and homophobia.”
“We should never put questions of human rights to an opinion poll.”
This use of quoted language here connotes the plebiscite as a negative thing on the Greens behalf. It appeals to the notion of consequence, as the fate of same-sex couples in the hands of the Australian public is not a good thing.
Owen also quotes Tim Wilson who says:
“This is a betrayal of all their supporters who want to see a change in the law and shows they would rather use couples as political pawns rather than see them get married.”
The use of such words as ‘betrayal’ and ‘political pawns’ suggest the difference of opinion between the two. They suggest a sense of interpretative ‘name calling’ which provides to portray the opposing party in a negative way.
The entire article itself is tentative with the issue and acts as an informant to the reader, allowing them to create their own perspective of the ideal. The primary claim of the article analyses to be a factual representation of views between both parties and the consequences they might hold for the future. Typically, in this day and age the majority of the public vote in favour of same-sex marriage, so the argument can be classified as an audience that does not need persuading, but instead to inform on the current movements throughout the political agenda towards the finalisation of the same-sex marriage bill.
Tom McIlroy also creates an informant argument in his article ‘Three-quarters of Australians would oppose a popular vote on their own right to marry: poll’ written for ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ in August 2016. The article creates a formation of research that shows that:
“36 per cent of respondents support a popular vote on same-sex marriage when asked to consider their own right to marry.”
“76 per cent of respondents [from 1000 surveyed] would not be happy if they needed popular support before getting married.”
This use of opinion poll differs from the first article as it proves itself to be a useful tool in understanding the public vote for the readership rather than heavily political viewpoints. McIlroy creates a factual argument that appeals to ethics and morality as well as popular opinion of Australians surveyed.
As ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ holds a wide readership of multiple ages and standpoints, the argument comes as an interesting piece as it will reach various individuals, and potentially influence any decision making during a potential plebiscite in the future.
When quoting PFLAG national spokeswoman Shelley Argent, the article states:
“This poll shows Australians are against judging other people’s relationships and reject a plebiscite when they realise this is exactly what a plebiscite is about.”
This quote acts as a summary of popular Australian opinion of the plebiscite, and can be analysed as the underlying opinion for the article’s basis. McIlroy warrants that the Australian public are the contributing factor in political change for Australia’s same-sex marriage laws, and by use of poll results, the article examines the general consensus of the public aren’t pleased with this as it can lead to a difference of opinions which will only extend the issue further and decrease movement toward the future in a positive way.
Lastly, an opinion piece to analyse in alignment with public opinion and result is ‘I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)’ by Michael Jensen for ‘ABC News’ in May 2015. Although this article is not timely in this manner, it relates heavily to the topic matter and the analysis relates heavily to the issue of Australian public views on the movement of the bill.
The article states that Rev Dr Michael Jensen works within the church, so this is a contributing factor to the direction of the argument. Jensen states:
“I prepare many couples for marriage each year. Most of them already cohabit. When I ask them about marriage, they almost always indicate that it is for them the beginning of a new family unit open to welcoming children.”
“To remove the sexual specificity from the notion of marriage makes marriage not a realisation of the bodily difference between male and female that protects and dignifies each, but simply a matter of choice.”
This can be offered as the underlying basis of the argument Jensen is proposing. The sanctity of marriage between male and female offers the ideal of children made by a mother and father legally bound in matrimony, and the ideal is somewhat lost when it refers to same-sex marriage.
When analysing Michael Jensen’s argument, it can relate to the audience agreement/not in agreement but I do not believe it is in the nature to provoke or annoy. The argument relates to personal opinion but does not intend to provoke negatively but instead provide personal insight into the issue. Although the argument can be viewed as inherently “discriminative”, Jensen argues against this notion:
“The case has been made almost entirely in terms of “equality” and its alleged opposite: “discrimination”. The argument is that applying the word “marriage” to some relationships and not to others is unequal treatment, and thus discrimination. These are both apparently self-evidently bad.”
This use of language connotes the misconception of correct and incorrect and how this issue should be viewed, without analysing it in a way that equally allows both ends of the opinion spectrum to be plausible.
The article implies the primary claims as evaluative and interpretative as the piece is left in the reader’s discretion to analyse it in their own way. Jensen states:
“It will be called marriage, but it won’t be marriage as we know it. It won’t be “marriage equality”: it will be an entirely new thing.”
It is here that the reader can gather the meaning behind Jensen’s argument and what the issue is. The justifications offered for this opinion piece relate to ethics and morality in an opposition to same-sex marriage. It relates to precedent and customary practice as well as how people will react emotionally (due to the negative backlash this article would receive from strongly pro same-sex marriage advocates).
The warrant for the article can be analysed as same-sex marriage will not be attributed as equality, but instead a choice, which in turn shifts the entirety of marriage through all sexual orientations, and child bearing is primarily focused toward heterosexual couples. The article aligns well in comparison to the other articles mentioned because it relates to Australian public vote and the difference of opinion from a pro same-sex vote rather than against it, which is a contributing factor to whether or not the bill will be passed and if the rights of same-sex couples should be held in the fate of the public which clearly hold very different opinions to each other.
To conclude, the three articles mentioned in this analysis provide insight into the same-sex marriage vote as they all argue and inform in different ways opposing to the other. The intended audience of the articles are those who are on both ends of the opinion spectrum, as it will affect the audiences in different ways depending on their belief systems. The articles all provide informative stance on Australia’s position when it comes to same-sex marriage equality, regardless of the different opinions. They will persuade the readership in different ways in relation to their personal stance on the issue as well as the outcomes and how it will affect them overall.
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