Sunday, 28 August 2011

Coverage in The Weekend Australian

Last week, some 30 Federal parliamentarians reported to the House on Greens MP Adam Bandt's earlier motion that they should consult with their constituents and report back to the House.

In The Weekend Australian Sat. Aug. 27, 'editor at large'  Paul Kelly reported this development under the headline 'MPs won't jump on same-sex bandwagon'.

Kelly's opening sentence referred to 'mounting evidence' that any move in the current parliament to allow marriage equality is 'unlikely to prevail'.  His 'evidence' is based on the fact that 20 of those MPs signalled their rejection of the possibility, with only seven indicating support.

As there are 150 MPs (and 76 Senators), only a biased commentator could read this as definitive, or as countervailing the generally favorable community opinion, as evidenced in a number of opinion polls. 

Kelly has to acknowledge that this 'cannot offer a definitive guide', so he resorts to studying 'the omens', which he declares are 'apparent'.  It's not until his eighth paragraph that he admits that 'opinion has moved and moved fast'.

Elsewhere in the same issue, conservative columnist Christopher Pearson, who says he came out of the closet in 1971, indulges in specious religious rationale to back his assertion that 'formal recognition of same-sex cuples is tantamount to the dictatorship of relativism'.  The headline recommends that 'Parliament should vote against gay marriage'.

Pearson links the issue to an argument about female priests, and says respect ought to be paid to the '2000-year-old tradition, following Christ's example at the Last Supper, that the priesthood be exclusively male', tagging his opinion with this bizarre statement: 'Men are categorically unfit to be nuns, as are women to be priests and blokes to be brides.'

No-one is expecting that conservative churches should be forced to conduct wedding rituals for same-sex couples.  It is the State that recognises marriage unions and it is high time that the secular status of marriage be clearly demarcated.  Churches will continue to do whatever it is they do.

These pieces are further examples of mere opinion posing as journalism.  Marginalising marriage equality by representing it solely as a 'Greens campaign' ignores the human story unfolding here.

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