I'D LIKE to point out the bigger issue in the frighteningly savage gay marriage debate right now.
Allow me a few moments first to brace for the inevitable barrage of hateful responses. Malice-laden vitriol is the bitter pill us columnists with the guts to speak our minds (even if it doesn't align with the status quo) have learnt to swallow.
A democratic society, huh?
As I was saying, there's a bigger, scarier thing happening with the gay marriage debate: the vilification of people exercising their freedom of speech.
A few other words that come to mind.
The great gavel of human rights has been dragged into this skirmish so that suddenly anyone in opposition to proposed changes to the marriage act are being labelled as homophobes and bigots.
Well, we take umbrage to such discriminatory (mark the irony, people) attacks.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind the populace that the Australian Government went through its legal system in 2008, removing discrimination from 84 laws. And earlier this year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right.
Yet we see the gay marriage lobby inciting verbal attacks on people who value marriage as it stands - as it has stood for history.
The lobby has linked arms with the human rights principle - but she is an unwilling accomplice.
Last week, Channel 7's breakfast show Sunrise backed same-sex marriage. The current affairs show joined with GetUp! and Marie Claire to promote the I Do campaign for gay marriage.
I have no problem with Mel and Kochie voicing their opinions on the show - that's what people love and are drawn to about it. But I wondered if using Sunrise as a vehicle for persuasion in a contentious social debate was crossing a line.
Does this decision align with the media's role as a neutral forum and facilitator of public discourse?
There is, of course, a place for opinion (such as this very column), but the level plane of the media is designed to respect both sides of debate, to allow viewers, readers, listeners to arrive at their own judgment.
How would you feel if The Examiner started a campaign to convert everyone to Christianity? Dangerous territory, I'm sure you would agree.
In her column for The Australian recently, Angela Shanahan shed some light on the issue. The title was telling: `Speak out against gay marriage at your peril'.
``The intimidatory `right think' of the political gay lobby now includes the entirely confected notion of `marriage equality'. If one opposes this artificial notion, it is now seen as tantamount to gay bashing,'' she wrote.
We should be very worried when our society is willing to vilify a section of the community based on which side of the gay marriage divide they sit. The subsection now is those opposing gay marriage. Who will be next?
What the debate needs is a generous dose of respect for fellow man.
One would rightly query, where is God in all this?
God is love.
And there can be love despite divided feelings.