Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Our View (7-11-2017): Same-sex marriage

AFTER months of campaigning by the yes and no sides, the Australian Same-sex Marriage Postal Survey has now closed.

The Yorke Peninsula Country Times decided from the outset it would not write in favour of either the yes or no campaigns. This means every word we printed asking people to vote a certain way came from our readers, and included their names. Nonetheless, people from both sides of the debate accused us of showing favouritism.

So, let’s look at the numbers.

Three: Stories we wrote containing information about the voting process, such as when survey forms were being posted out or reminding people about the deadline.

Four: Paid adverts, each a half page in size, explaining how to vote without favouring for the yes or no sides.

One: Paid advert, half a page in size, asking people to vote no.

Six: Letters to the editor for the yes vote, from six different authors.

Four: Letters to the editor for the no vote, from three different authors.

One: Editorial, asking people to be involved in the process, showing no bias.

The contributions were slightly in favour of the yes vote, although the average letter from the no side was longer. The vote-no advert was substantially longer than any letter. That said, short letters can be the most widely read.

If you did not like some of what was written, that is understandable. People were likely offended by anti-homosexual rhetoric, others by anti-Christian statements. Every word we printed was allowed by law. That means if we did not allow  these statements to be printed, we would have been censoring free speech and, in doing so, showing bias.

Now voting has closed, we can no longer influence anyone’s choice. The Country Times is a business comprising individuals of varying views, and a quick office survey shows more than 60 per cent of staff voted yes. About 11 per cent voted no, and more than 25 per cent of people did not vote.

It will be interesting to see how that tiny sample size compares with the national outcome, which should be revealed next Wednesday.

Nick Perry, Editor
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