New South Wales
As the marriage equality campaigns continue, North Shore Mums is proud to stand against discrimination. When we read a thoughtful post in our Facebook group by longtime member May, we wanted to share her words with a wider audience.
I’m part of a big online Facebook group, North Shore Mums. Ever since the plebiscite was announced, there have been daily posts from both sides of the same sex marriage “debate”, with a lot of mud-slinging. The poor Admin team for the group received so many complaints about the quantity of posts, that they finally decided to put to a vote whether or not same sex marriage should be allowed to be discussed in the group.
I responded with to this decision with a post: this is what I wrote. Note: for the record (in case it’s not obvious), I’m not telling you how to vote. I myself am significantly conflicted over the debate. I will say this much, I cannot in good conscience vote “no”.
It’s a sad day when we have to put to a vote whether or not to discuss a topic as important as same sex marriage in a mothers group.
Yes, it is a sensitive subject. Yes, it is difficult to convey tone and intention through text alone, yes, there are over 25,000 [in the group] from different cultures, with different experiences and beliefs…but we are all mothers.
As mothers, we are entrusted with the important task of raising the next generation.
We teach them how to eat, walk and talk…but also:
To those who think the plebiscite and those who could even think of voting “no” as offensive, try to think of it as if the topic was not same sex marriage but polygamy. A lot of people are very unfamiliar with it, so they might ask questions that appear very ignorant or hurtful. It does not help them if they are mocked or subjected to a slew of memes and catch phrases. It does nothing to further their understanding. Instead it closes them up and hardens their heart. Some other people may feel personally uncomfortable with it because it clashes with everything they’ve ever known or been taught. So they may be fearful, they may start jumping to conclusions and use whatever they can to advance their cause because fear can do that to people.
To those who are definitely voting no because they are concerned about freedom of speech and religion, I really hope it is not lost on you that you are seeking to prioritise your liberties and way of life above someone else’s. Whilst you may have genuine concern for the right of children to have biological parents, consider the children who are already in same-sex parented families and the impact that it has on them when their family is not properly recognized in the way they desire.
Whilst you may be uncomfortable with what this means for the way you bring up your children and what they are taught in schools, spare a thought for the children who are growing up hating themselves because they feel lost or because others don’t want to try to understand them. Whilst you see all of the name calling and intolerance for different views, realize that this is what happens when people have been oppressed and hurting for a long time, do not use this to justify yourself doing the same.
It may be that you are persecuted for your beliefs, and if you’re a Christian, I’d encourage you with the fact that it is probably one of the only things we are actually promised by Jesus in the Bible: not a comfortable life, but a life where we should be struggling to determine truth and seeking to love our neighbour, which means not just our friends but those whom we don’t see eye-to-eye with. And maybe if you are gracious with your beliefs and how they’re applied in the public sphere, others will be kind and seek to include or protect them even though they do not understand them, as they are treating you with the same grace you extended to them. And if not, at least you conducted yourself with grace, humility, and love.
To those who just wish this would all go away so we can get back to focusing on Fiji, car recommendations and renovations – patience, that day is not far away. But for now I want you to reflect on what you feel.
Is it annoyance? Are you wondering how on earth it is that this is all some people are talking about? Perhaps it is because you have been living in luxury, the luxury of not being marginalized. Let this be an insight for you into what it is like to be a person who has to think long and hard about these things, all the time, for many months and years, way before this was ever on the agenda because it directly affects them. Maybe they are someone from the gay community and their child is being bullied for having two parents of the same gender, maybe they are someone of a faith background whose child has just come out and now they’re questioning everything they ever believed, maybe they’re a minister of religion and this is tearing their congregation apart, maybe they’re a wife whose husband just left them for another man, maybe they’re someone questioning their own sexuality, maybe they’re an employee or a boss and they’re trying to make sense of what they’ve seen unravel overseas and they’re scared of the changes that may occur and how it will affect their livelihood because as much as they try, they just cannot change their convictions.
Is it discomfort? Are you uncomfortable with the vitriol and the challenges to the views you hold close? Maybe you don’t like the tone of the dialogue, it makes you uneasy and you just wish it wasn’t there clogging up your feed. Let this be an insight to you of how those who are different are sometimes spoken about, or to. Whether it is a person from the LGBTIQ community or a person who has views which are different to the mainstream. Perhaps you don’t understand how these people could speak so angrily, consider that this could be how they have been spoken to and treated for many years. Perhaps some of these very angry people you encounter have cried themselves to sleep over these issues, contemplated suicide, but they didn’t go through with it or were not successful, so now they’re a little bit jaded, but a lot stronger and louder.
The vote [on NSM ended] in favour of allowing posts on same sex marriage and for that I am glad. We now have a chance to learn how to engage in dialogue in a more respectful and empathetic manner. Even if you didn’t want this chance, I’d encourage you to take it. We are mothers, we are tough as nails but with tender hearts, and despite the very different views we may hold, I do not doubt that each and every one of you wants to do the best by your child, so start by modeling compassion.