An Open Letter to Senator Helen Polley
Dear Senator Helen Polley,
I have to congratulate you. As a practicing Catholic, you must be praising that God of yours for getting you out of a potentially tight spot yesterday. Thanks to the supreme idiocy of your colleague Corey Bernardi, you really managed to dodge a political bullet.
It’s not like we didn’t expect it of Tony Abbott’s Parliamentary Secretary (although I hear he’s since resigned - the Coalition wouldn’t want anything like inconvenient bigotry getting in the way of an election win). To quote the deliciously acerbic Malcolm Tucker, he’s about as useless as a marzipan dildo.
You, Senator Polley…well, you’re a different kettle of fish. You’re not a household name, and as such I imagine you think you can get away with making impassioned speeches bemoaning the lack of ‘respect’ being demonstrated by those people who support delivering marriage equality to all Australians. Unlike Bernardi, no one specifically seeks you out for offence, meaning you’re at liberty to lay claim to the kind of aggrieved oppression you believe comes from “personal assassinations and the disgraceful attacks on those individuals who believe in the Marriage Act as it stands”. There is no one to laugh at your absurd suggestions that those people currently experiencing the discrimination of being unable to legally marry in this country are not displaying adequate “understanding and tolerance, and they should first lead by example.”
While Cory Bernardi is being rightfully raked over the coals for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, his view is so ridiculous that it hardly seems worth the trouble of acknowledging. Like Senator Ron Boswell, yet another of our elected representatives that sense tells us shouldn’t even be trusted to tie his own shoes in the morning let alone vote on national pieces of legislation, Bernardi is a caricature. The comparison he made is so outrageous that even those people with a sort of general discomfort about same sex marriage would in all likelihood find it offensive.
But your speech Senator… Unlike the gallumphing elephantitis of derp that fell out of Bernardi’s mouth on Tuesday night and has since incited the nation’s outrage, the insidious homophobia you appeared to demonstrate deserves to be dragged out from behind the braying carcass of Bernardi’s political career and exposed for the offense that it was. YOU, Senator, deserve to be exposed as the kind of elected representative who, among other things, seems to think Australia is in danger of forcing people in the community to accept homosexuality against their will.
For how else can a reasonable individual interpret the following statement?
“By 2006 [in Massachusetts], as same sex marriage was legal, a federal judge had ruled that schools had a duty to portray homosexual relationships as normal, despite what parents thought or believed. Businesses had to recognise same-sex married couples in all the benefits, activities et cetera regarding employees and customers. The wedding industry is required to serve the homosexual community if requested. Wedding photographers, halls, caterers etc must do same-sex marriages or be arrested for discrimination. Is this what is going to happen here in Australia?” [emphasis mine]
In short, is this the terrible fate that awaits Australia should we extend our rights as heterosexuals to our gay friends and family members - that the wedding industry, unfairly forced to increase its market profits, might become the victim of oppressive legislation?
First they came for the wedding photographers, and I did not speak for them. Etc.
And then you quoted some letters from your constituents. First, we encounter the incorrect:
“From JS: ‘Marriage is a very ancient and important institution in our society…History shows that the homosexual groups always have another issue that must be addressed. After same-sex marriage, what will be next?”
Curse those homosexual groups - since the particularly distant, misty time of 1969 in Australia, it’s been one demand after another for them and now they want to threaten our ancient and important institutions? Or, as my friend Andrew P Street says, ‘the immutable laws that declare marriage in Australia is exclusively between a man and a woman and date back to that mystical time known to historians as “2004”. Dare we tamper with a rich, storied tradition that’s been the cornerstone of our nation for almost eight years. DARE WE?”
You went on.
“From SP: ‘I wish to state categorically that the stability of our nation’s future depends on families as our foundation and ask that this only be changed by referendum so as not to fall prey to the militant lobby groups with an agenda to destroy marriage.’”
To be honest Senator, I’m rather less concerned now about same sex marriage than I am about the sex education of our nation. Do you think SP realises that babies aren’t delivered by the stork to newlyweds, or grown out in the cabbage patch? SP does know that marriage as an institution didn’t become mandated by the church until sometime around the 13th century, and that prior to that it was done via agreement and ceremony and usually as a way to strengthen and preserve property ownership in the male lineage? SP must be aware that same sex ‘marriages’ were practiced in both the Ancient civilisations of Rome and Greece, and that they weren’t uncommon in Native American tribes long before the arrival of those deeply religious folks who attempted to wipe them out? And none of these situations have led to the destruction or even general destabilisation of civilisation as we know it?
But it’s the final letter you chose to read from - that you chose to read from in order to justify your stance against the legalisation of same sex marriage - that most accurately displays the kind of insidious homophobia that poses more of a threat than any obscenities Bernardi could lay claim to, because it reinforces to people already inclined to view homosexuals as different that there are valid, social reasons for doing so.
“From D and AO: ‘Those who seek to change the definition ignore the impacts on children and the potential to create another stolen generation by putting an adult desire above the needs of children.’”
This beggars belief - that you would dare compare, even via the letter of a constituent, the children of gay couples with the generations of innocent children who were stolen from their equally innocent parents, their land and their culture because then, like now, we allowed our political and social legislation to be directed by the prejudice and hate of small minded people who enjoy wielding power and privilege over others.
To even attempt to draw a link between the two is an insult to gay parents and the lengths to which they must go to have children. It is an insult to the children of gay parents, to suggest that they have been denied in some way. And it is a monstrous insult to the actual victims of the stolen generations, all of whom were entitled to a life with the family who loved them but were subject to the gross oppression of a government that did not consider them equal.
Bernardi might have taken the heat, but your words were far more offensive that night. I know, because I read your speech.
And given that your final words that night expressed concern for ‘voters’ and the voices of your constituents, I now hope everyone else does too.
Note: You can read Senator Polley’s speech in its entirety here.