What we have seen with Coopers is the same we see with other corporations and everyday Australians — the strangling of free speech by those advocates for changing the definition of marriage. It is simply not tolerable to disagree, to express a different view. Australian businesses are forced to ‘take the pledge’ and conform to the same-sex marriage agenda with a reputation gun held to their heads. - Sophie York
The unfairness of the same-sex marriage debate is undeniable. Egregiously, it is fine if a member of the same-sex marriage brigade decides to have ties with external organisations, including those who vocally campaign on political issues, outside of their employment.
However, if a man-woman marriage supporter decides to engage with other organisations, they will be met with attacks and public pressure to step down from their main employment – or be fired.
Nowhere is this more clearly exemplified than in the Mark Allaby-IBM debacle:
Marriage equality advocate IBM has refused to publicly back a senior executive in the face of attacks over his role with a Christian organisation. The IT group and its Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby have been hounded by social media activists, who have taken issue with Mr Allaby’s role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians.
Not only did IBM refuse to support Allaby, they also refused to answer the more pressing question: are their employees granted the freedom to engage with external organisations outside of employment if those organisations do not hold the same political beliefs as espoused by IBM?
"IBM did not respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with external organisations, including religious groups, outside of their employment with the company. “We will not be responding on this,” an IBM spokeswoman said."
By their silence, IBM has spread fear amongst its employees who disagree with same-sex marriage, confirming their fear that IBM employees do not have the freedom to associate with groups that hold the opposing view, even if the employee themselves remain silent on the issue. In other words, employees of IBM are not allowed to act in their own capacity, even outside of work.
In contrast, individual members of the same-sex marriage campaign are not faced with the same restrictions to their freedom. As reported by The Australian, Australian Marriage Equality simply distanced itself from the actions of one of its senior employees who publicly advocated for the boycott of Coopers:
Australian Marriage Equality claimed to have no role in last week’s boycott of the brewer, however The Australian has learned that AME Victorian director Tim Peppard signed a Change.org petition condemning Coopers’ links to Bible Society Australia, which has been accused of being against same-sex marriage despite having no stated view on the subject.
Sparked by a Bible Society film called Keeping It Light, which featured Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie debating marriage laws while holding Coopers ales, the petition called on drinkers to boycott the company “until they support marriage equality”.
It also demanded the family-owned business make a generous donation to AME affiliate Australians for Equality. Mr Peppard, a director of AME since 2013, signed the petition a week ago, adding: “I object to Coopers’ homophobic and duplicitous add [sic] promoting the homophobic views of the Bible Society.”
His actions appear to be in conflict with AME’s policy of encouraging “positive, respectful and inclusive” debate about same-sex marriage.
Even though Peppard’s actions are in direct breach of AME’s policy, AME backed Peppard’s freedom to associate with external groups, as well as having the freedom to take action directly in conflict with AME’s methods:
Mr Peppard could not be contacted yesterday but AME co-chairman Alex Greenwich said the director acted in his personal capacity.
There is a marked difference in the public response to the private activity of an executive who sits on the board of a Christian organisation, versus the private activity of someone who supports same-sex marriage (Australian Marriage Equality) on other side of the debate. IBM was silent as the grave when it came to backing their executive employee’s rights. Compare that to Marriage Equality’s open backing of their executive. Peppard received no reprimand for acting out of accordance with AME’s policy, because there is no public pressure to punish him, whereas Allaby has been publicly pressured to quit his job.
Only one group is free to express personal opinions - and it's not the pro-marriage supporters.