Is Opposition to Marriage Equality Really About the Sanctity of Marriage?

Married at First Sight

OPINION

The other day Channel 9 posted a teaser about a new show on their Facebook page.

‘Married at First Sight’ is a new reality show where a team of experts pair up singles based on their compatibility and they then get married to each other on television.
The couples meet each other for the first time at the alter where the cameras are rolling. After the wedding the cameras follow each couple as their married lives progress.

Never met. Never spoken. Complete strangers taking part in a social experiment…Would you get Married At First Sight Australia?

Posted by Channel 9 on Sunday, March 22, 2015

The show was first produced in Denmark and then became a ratings hit in the USA when an American version was created. Now Channel 9 is hoping to replicate that success in Australia.

The public response to the show has seen many people tell Channel 9 that they find the proposition of the show offensive. At a time when marriage equality is being debated in our nation the decision to create a show that trivializes marriage has not been well received.

The overwhelming response on Channel 9’s Facebook page has been a negative reaction. So far over 180 comments have been added to the post, the majority of them criticising the commissioning of the show.

I would imagine that Channel 9 are not too perplexed about the criticism, last year in an interview with industry blog TV Tonight Nine’s Head of Programming Andrew Blackwell said he hoped the show would stir up controversy and get people talking.

The irony of promoting a show that treats marriage as entertainment while powerful political lobby groups argue about the need to protect the sanctity of marriage has not gone unnoticed.

LGBTIQ website samesame highlighted the audience reaction, while in The Guardian Nick Holas reasonably argues that getting upset about a TV show is probably not the best way to advance marriage equality as a political cause.

Over at WA Today Candice Barnes noted the outcry over the broadcast made her think about marriage equality.

Writing for Junkee, Meg Watson (no relation), suggests that Channel 9 may have made a risky bet thinking the Australian viewing public is going to get behind the show.

What is obvious is that none of the usual suspects opposed to marriage equality are speaking up. The Australian Christian Lobby hasn’t fired off a volley of media announcements, their Managing Director Lyle Shelton hasn’t tweeted about it.

The Australian Marriage Forum isn’t saying anything, Bill Muehlenberg at CultureWatch hasn’t seemed to notice and Bernard Gaynor‘s still busy complaining about Mardi Gras.

All of these commentators who constantly talk about the need to protect marriage, treat it with respect and not trivialize it’s importance are silent. Is it that any marriage that is between a man and a woman is OK in their eyes?

When the protectors of traditional marriage don’t see this as offensive to marriage, while denying thousands of people in long term committed relationships access to the same institution, I can’t help but wonder what their real goals are.

Graeme Watson

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