Triple M’s Jay Shipston & Hit Network’s Christian Hull on Australia’s same sex marriage survey
We’ve entered the final stage of the same-sex marriage survey – a $122 million exercise to decide whether gay couples should be afforded the same marriage rites as other Australians.
16-million survey forms were mailed out in September and when the ballot officially closes tomorrow at 6pm, a vast majority of Australians will have ticked ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
It’s been a long campaign with debate dominating the news cycle for weeks. And it’s unlikely to stop after the final result is declared on November 15th.
Triple M Mackay’s Jay Shipston has been upfront with listeners about his sexuality and where he stands in the same sex marriage debate.
What he’s seen and experienced over the past six weeks hasn’t been pretty.
“To be honest with you, it’s been very difficult to watch. I thought at the start it’d be a generic yes/no vote. And I get that people are passionate about it. Clearly I am. I’m voting ‘yes’. I’m in a same-sex relationship, but it’s becoming very draining.
“For those people unaffected by same-sex marriage, I can also understand why they’d be sick of hearing a lot about it and seeing a lot about it. But I think it’s been such as waste of money.”
While the ‘no’ campaign has become louder with millions being spent on TV advertising, Jay says the response from listeners has been generally positive.
Yet, he’s concerned about the long term affect the debate may have on young Aussies, who may be struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
“I actually think this has brought out the worst in some people. And I think it’s been quite disturbing for those LGBTQI folk watching this unfold. It’s quite dangerous, you know, for them to feel like they don’t belong.”
It’s horrible and I think there’s going to be a whole lot of people, who’re going to to seek help after this.
I know that sounds cliché and people will be like ‘what are you talking about’, but when you’re in that position of feeling different, this thing is making them a whole lot different on top of how you already feel”.
In Melbourne, the Hit Network’s Christian Hull has similar concerns about the direction the debate has taken. Famous for his popular ‘Trish’ videos, he’s been spared much of the vitriol.
“Well, I am so flamboyantly gay that all of my followers have been supportive. I am lucky that I can do something and I don’t actually cop a lot of negativity.”
“I am really lucky that I don’t really get trolled. The Hit Network gets trolled, whenever we put something up because we have such a wide audience. Those comments can be quite hurtful and I find them a bit off-putting.”
Much like Jay, Christian worries about what happens in the weeks and months after the result of the plebiscite is revealed.
“I was fine with it at the beginning because I thought ‘oh, this will be alright, we’ll get a ‘yes’ and move on.
“But the whole thing has affected so many people on a much deeper level. When I got it (the ballot) I was a bit upset that we even had to vote on this issue.
“It’s like when everyone got up in arms because they got a text message! “How did they get my private details? What’s going on? This shouldn’t happen. I shouldn’t be contacted.
“Well, it’s the same bloody thing with the vote. Why should you get to decide on my life? Calm down. It’s just one bloody text message”.
Regardless of how you may view same sex marriage, there can be no doubt the debate has revealed deep divisions.
Those divisions will take time to heal whatever the outcome of the postal vote. And the reality is, the survey may not resolve anything.
With politicians not obligated to vote according to the results, we’re facing the possibility of this issue staying part of the national debate for month and maybe years to come.
It’s also generated a lot of angst and anger, spilling over on both sides of the debate. Elements within both camps have been accused of extremism.