After years of political wrangling over same-sex marriage, Australian voters are having their say in a national postal vote that ends on Nov. 7.
The survey of all registered voters has the potential to resolve an issue that, thanks to the relentless lobbying of same-sex marriage activists, has been dominating the Australian political discourse for years.
Activists, celebrities, and the media say Australia is behind the rest of the world and is becoming an embarrassment.
Australia’s conservative government, under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, promised no change to the Marriage Act unless the Australian people agreed by voting in a “plebiscite.”
In Australia, a plebiscite gauges public opinion on a particular issue. While not legally binding, the result of this plebiscite will guide Parliament in deciding whether to vote to change Australia’s marriage law.
But a popular vote is exactly what the same-sex marriage lobby does not want.
Claiming young LGBT youth would commit suicide if a plebiscite were held, the Labor opposition led by Bill Shorten teamed up with cross-bench senators to block legislation last December that would have triggered a compulsory attendance plebiscite.
The aim of the same-sex marriage lobby was to force the government to break its election promise by instead holding a vote on the floor of Parliament, where the numbers are tight and same-sex marriage activists think they have their best chance of winning.
After five rebel government members of Parliament threatened to cross the floor and vote with the opposition, the prime minister’s hand was forced.
He was able to circumvent the Senate blockade by using special powers that allowed the government to conduct a survey of voters by mail under the direction of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Because the vote would be by post and noncompulsory—voting in Australia is normally mandatory—legislation would not be needed to conduct the plebiscite.
This novel approach for Australia, which seeks to avoid embarrassment for the government while still upholding its election promise, was challenged by the same-sex marriage lobby in the High Court.
On Sept. 12, in a unanimous judgement, the court ruled that the mail survey was legal and the vote could proceed.
It is telling that the same-sex marriage lobby has done everything within its power to stop the Australian people from having a say.
It claims to have polling support as high as 70 percent, but does not want the Australian people to express that support through a ballot.
After the High Court ruling affirmed the plebiscite, the Australian Bureau of Statistics began mailing out 16 million survey forms with reply-paid envelopes. Voters have until Nov. 7 to return them, and the result will be announced on Nov. 15.
The “Yes” campaign, which supports redefining marriage, is being led by Irish gay activist Tiernan Brady who led the successful Irish referendum campaign in 2015.
The “No” campaign is led by the Coalition for Marriage, which is comprised of 80 organizations with leadership provided by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, advocacy group Marriage Alliance, and the Australian Christian Lobby.
Most of the media is campaigning for change, with the notable exceptions of Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers and websites and Sky News television.
The Coalition for Marriage has focused its messaging on the impact of children being exposed to radical LGBT sex and gender education, a consequence of redefining marriage.
The coalition’s television ads feature three mothers speaking of their experiences with a program called “Safe Schools.”
“School told my son he could wear a dress,” Melbourne mother Cella White says in the ad.
“Where same-sex marriage passes as law overseas, [radical sex education] becomes widespread and compulsory,” Dr. Pansy Lai, a Chinese-Australian mother, says.
“Kids in Year 7 are being asked role-play being in a same-sex relationship,” Heidi McIvor says.
The Yes campaign went ballistic when this ad aired in August, accusing the mothers of lying and the Coalition for Marriage of wanting to talk about anything other than same-sex marriage.
But the evidence from overseas and the experience of “safe schools” already evident in Australia are undeniable.
There are just too many same-sex marriage advocates on the record who draw a direct line between the degendering of marriage and gender fluidity programs in school.
Last month, in chastising a Canberra Christian school for urging its school community to vote no, the Australian Capital Territory’s education minister, Yvette Berry, vindicated the Coalition for Marriage’s key claims by saying schools had no right to refuse to teach gender fluidity and same-sex sex education programs.
A follow-up Coalition for Marriage television ad featured Canadian father Steve Tourloukis saying that once same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario, the courts said his children must be taught to celebrate homosexuality.
The messaging is hitting a nerve with Australians.
Also hitting a nerve is criticism that anti-discrimination law would be weaponized against freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
After assuring us that gay couples getting married will have no consequences for other Australians’ freedoms, even leading Yes campaigners are now grudgingly admitting that religious liberty protections are needed.
However, they will concede no protections for anyone other than professional religious clergy, leaving a cloud of uncertainty for individuals, business owners, and Christian schools who wish to teach that marriage is exclusively man-woman.
Yes supporters continue to prove that their campaign threatens the freedoms of dissenting Australians.
Just last month, a business owner sacked an 18-year-old for putting up a No campaign meme on her Facebook page. Some have called for a Roman Catholic archbishop to be fined for distributing a pastoral letter on man-woman marriage, and acts of violence have been committed against No campaigners at universities and against the Australian Christian Lobby.
Now that the debate has matured beyond “marriage equality” slogans and the Australian people are being confronted with the consequences of change, people are changing their votes but polls continue to show the Yes campaign in a commanding lead.
So far, 62.5 percent of Australians have returned a survey form—a high participation rate for a voluntary vote.
If Australia can hold the line, a global fightback against totalitarian rainbow politics may be emboldened.
We will know on Nov. 15.