The issue of whether or not gay marriage should be accepted in Australia has been largely debated in politics and among the general public for a while now, and it seems as though it will remain a continuous issue for some time to come. The majority of Australians are currently split over whether the traditional view of marriage being solely between a man and a woman should be preserved, or whether this view of marriage is out-dated and should be redefined in order to allow gays the right to marry. The Australian Labor Party was also divided on this issue at a recently held federal conference. In the opinion piece “Welcome, gays, to… what?” (published in the Herald Sun in December 2011), Wendy Tuohy contends in a supportive tone, that gay marriage should be allowed in Australia, and in a more inquisitive and somewhat deflated tone goes on to question the meaning and necessity of marriage in today’s world. Similarly, Michael Newton believes that our laws should reflect on the new sets of values which are present in the modern world. In his letter to the editor titled “It is nonsense to cling to the past” (published in The Age on the 16th of November 2011), he presents a reasoned point of view, that although marriage has had a certain meaning in the past, to assume that it should stay that way would be completely irrational. A contrasting viewpoint is presented in the opinion piece “Tsunami-sized backlash on same-sex marriage looms” (published in The Australian on the 12th of December 2011), in which Barry Cohen attacks “the pro-gay marriage brigade”, expressing his traditionalist views and stark rejection of same-sex marriage in a very deprecating and slightly satirical tone. A cartoonist named Spooner drew a cartoon (published in The Age on the 22nd of November 2011) which presents two clashing views of the issue. A non-Christian audience would derive a message in support of giving gays the right to marry, whilst a religious audience may see the opposite.
In the opinion piece “Welcome, gays, to… what?”, Tuohy addresses her audience of the Australian public, particularly the gay population and those who have an opinion on the issue, regarding the issue of same-sex marriage in Australia. She begins her piece with a metaphor, saying that when it comes to change, laws take “tortoise-like” steps “towards catching up with the hare that is our fast-evolving collective values”. By highlighting the fact that our laws take a while to reflect our ever-changing morals and values, Tuohy positions readers to see that the current laws against gay-marriage are out-dated and are simply taking a while to adapt to the majority of Australians’ views that gays should indeed have the right to marry. Her opinion piece provides a less black and white view on the issue, which is evident when she asks a rhetorical question which makes readers wonder, “what on earth does ‘marriage’ mean right now?”
In addition to this, she asks another rhetorical question which sums up her view of marriage in today’s world: “Is it possible that even before homosexuals have the right to partake of it, we matrimonially elastic and readily divorced straights have left the marital meringue out in the rain?” By “matrimonially elastic”, Tuohy implies that the majority of straight people have ‘stretched’ the rules of marriage to such an extent that the metaphoric “marital meringue” has ‘dissolved’ and lost its true meaning. Her statement also includes an attack, targeting “readily divorced” straight people as the root cause for the ruination of what “was once so ‘sacred’”. These techniques all work together to persuade the audience to share Tuohy’s point of view, that marriage is not as big a deal in the modern world as it used to be, and therefore “it no longer makes any sense to exclude gay couples” for the sake of tradition.
Similar to Tuohy’s view, Newton also contends that we can no longer resist the changing values of society in regards to gay marriage,...
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