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Type: Journal article
Title: 'I don't believe in discrimination but... this is just too far': political discourse in the Australian marriage equality debate
Author: Matthews, N.
Augoustinos, M.
Citation: Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, 2012; 8(3):128-141
Publisher: Australian Psychological Society
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 1833-4512
Statement of
Natalie Matthews and Martha Augoustinos
Abstract: This paper examines how heteronormativity operates in the context of debates over marriage equality, despite an apparent underlying ethos of egalitarianism. The data analysed in the present study were a corpus of 44 transcripts from Australian politicians who oppose the legalisation of non-heterosexual marriage. We utilised a synthetic discourse analysis to identify a predominant discursive repertoire that constructed opposition to nonheterosexual marriage as non-discriminatory, often coupled with a subject position that portrayed politicians as heroes rather than oppressors. Although politicians opposed to non-heterosexual marriage were found to openly agree that non-heterosexual people deserve rights, their accounts functioned to depict marriage for non-heterosexual people as being a step ‘too far’. In positioning themselves as non-discriminatory heroes, politicians’ views against marriage equality were depicted as the only means in which to protect mainstream society from the ‘perils’ of non-heterosexual marriage. Our analysis highlights the subtleties of contemporary prejudice as a practice which no longer focuses on the deficits of the oppressed group, but rather solely on the more highly prioritised needs of the heterosexual majority. In the marriage equality debate this enabled politicians to appear as egalitarian and nonprejudiced whilst simultaneously arguing against laws that would grant nonheterosexual individuals greater rights in Australian society.
Keywords: marriage equality debate
discourse analysis
Rights: © 2012 Australian Psychological Society
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Psychology publications

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