Gay marriage row: in defence of Wendy Francis
Few have succeeded in defending the seemingly indefensible; O.J Simpson’s attorney being a notable exception. Yet I will attempt to make a defence for Wendy Francis, Queensland’s much maligned Senate candidate for Family First.
At the outset – a disclosure. Francis has used my PR company in the past for strategic advice (don’t laugh – I already know what you are thinking) and I assisted her from a media perspective in her campaign to “make the outdoors G-rated” a few months back.
That said, this article is not being written for her, nor does she have any knowledge of it. I am merely adding my perspective to bring some sense of balance and understanding to what has been an extremely one-sided, and in some ways unfair, reaction.
My personal interaction with her also provides me with an insight not known by the countless critics and commentators.
Upon meeting Francis for the first time – well after she had been selected by her party as their candidate – I thought she was too nice to be a politician. She appeared to be the sort of person that would make Snow White look like a tramp. If I had known her earlier my advice would have been not to stand as a political candidate. She’d surely be eaten alive.
But there is another side to her; one that is determined, pushy, passionate and independent (and annoying) – none of which are bad attributes within the game of politics. It is the combination of these two personalities that make her such an interesting and successful person. I’ve met a lot of politicians and can say without hesitation that Queensland could do worse than be represented by Wendy Francis.
The recent comments – and reporting of them – need to be taken in context. Francis is passionate about her beliefs and they include marriage being between a man and a women. When we take away the emotion (and choice) of the actual words she used and put aside the vitriolic reaction from those opposed we must concede that a lot of people would agree with her.
Many Australians also think that children should not be raised by gay couples. That people would think this way may not be agreeable to many but denying it is delusional.
This being the case, the question must be asked – Is Wendy Francis allowed to believe this? Of course she is. Equally those opposing her view have a legitimate right to counter her argument and put forward a logical response. But here is the problem – a problem that is more an indictment on current culture than it is about the issue of marriage. There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to people with opposing views – even if those views seem abhorrent to you.
The wrong way was chosen by too many and continued acceptance of this by the community and the media is taking us down a dangerous path. The response to Francis on forums like Twitter was abusive, rude, depraved and unacceptable. That these same people were lambasting Francis for being intolerant takes the meaning of hypocrisy to supersonic levels!
The argument that the comments from Francis were equally abusive and disrespectful to gays doesn’t wash. Francis never told anyone they were a c___ or that people should kill the b____ (these were the nicer comments). She never said things about anyone’s children or used language so intense in its vulgarity that it would make any decent Australian cringe.
Not only did Francis cop it from the social media users but she wasn’t helped by those who are supposedly her friends – the churches and family organisations that are on her side, who remained silent while she was thrown into the lion’s den. This only exposes the fear the modern church has, driven by an obsession to stay on middle ground, lest they offend anyone.
Don’t agree with Francis; don’t vote for her. That’s your right. But she – like all of us – deserves to put forward her views. If her comments were extreme, she deserves the chance to acknowledge this and to be offered forgiveness.
Let’s not create a public environment so brutal that decent people – like Wendy Francis – will be too scared to put their passions and views on the line. Australia would be worse for it.
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