She just didn't get it
On Nov. 29, the Australian Senate passed a historic bill that would allow same-sex couples to be married. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives to be voted on, and it’s likely to pass and become law.
Senate Leader of the Opposition Penny Wong said about the landmark decision:
“What [marriage equality] says to young LGBTIQ Australians, what it says to the young man struggling with who he is, or the young woman who feels alone and ashamed, what it says to the children of same-sex couples who feel ostracized. It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accept you for who you are. Your love is not lesser, and nor are you. It says you’re one of us.”
The bill was shot down 20 times before, but most Australians are finally in favor of allowing people to marry who they love despite gender. Of the 12.7 million citizens who voted on the initial survey, 61% were in favor of gay marriage.
There were massive campaigns that helped in changing people’s attitudes towards it, but not all of the campaigns were well-thought out. Though Mia Freedman had the best intentions, her plea for straight, married people to stand up for gay marriage was deemed “tone-deaf” by the Internet.
Mia Freedman is the co-founder and creative director of the Mamamia Women’s Network and website, a platform for women to discuss everything from politics to giving birth.
She and her staff have been outspoken about their support of gay marriage, and wanted to reach people who were still struggling to see why it should be made legal. She penned a piece in August entitled “Straight, married women want marriage equality, too,” and it may have done more harm for the cause than good.
Mia knew that some Australians believe that if same-sex marriage is made legal, their own heterosexual marriages will be diminished somehow. “This argument is bollocks and must be loudly refuted and rejected by all of us who are legally allowed to marry the person we love. Did allowing indigenous Australians to vote in 1965 make anyone else’s vote count less?” she explains of her position.
Loud and Proud
Mia supported the legalization of gay marriage because she wants equal rights for all citizens, and she believes that marriage equality is a step towards helping the mental health of marginalized people in her country. She has three children, and wanted to ensure that they have the right to marry whoever they fall in love with when they’re older.
In an effort drum up the support of heterosexual married couples who support gay marriage, she created the hashtag #married4marriageequality. She instructed people to brandish their wedding rings along with it.
It was her photo that felt to many people like she was “rubbing salt in the wound.”
Twitter users expressed their outrage over Mia seemingly mocking the very people she was trying to help. Twitter user @kclMT122 said, “Mia has an unrivaled ability to match good intentions with utter tone deafness on every subject under the sun.” User @gabeshogan equated her photo to something that would be equally offensive. “Mia Freedman, #married4marriageequality is great. Now please show your support for Breast Cancer victims with a topless selfie!” they chimed in.
User @NickJMB was one of the few people who tried to softly point out how Mia got it so wrong. “I get the sentiment and I appreciate it. It’s great to have SSM allies. But #Married4MarriageEquality just misses the mark. Like a lot,” he said.
Mia and her peers were humbled by the backlash, and Mamamia released a statement with Together with Australian Marriage Equality to explain what was really meant by the hashtag. The statement said in part:
“We thought a demonstration of support from married women under the hashtag would help send the message to politicians that there is a huge tide of support that exists among all Australians for marriage equality.”
Mia didn’t stop trying to raise awareness about the benefits of marriage equality, but her critics don’t have to worry about more of her flubs since gay marriage will most likely be legal soon.
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