Grammy winner Macklemore is set to appear at the National Rugby League’s Grand Final in Sydney, Australia, this Sunday, but several marriage equality opponents are furious that the rapper, who rose to fame with “Same Love,” about LGBT acceptance, which features Mary Lambert’s hook “She Keeps Me Warm,” will perform at a time when the country is embroiled in a fierce debate about marriage.
Opposition to Macklemore’s performance of his biggest hit has reached a fever pitch as Australians currently have until November 7 to mail in a vote on whether they are for or against marriage equality, in a poll that is nonbinding but will be considered by Parliament before it votes on the issue.
Proponents of the “No” campaign on marriage have said that Macklemore’s performing the song with Lambert at the match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys is “politicizing” the event. Meanwhile, Macklemore, who does not appear swayed, has said he’s received a lot of hate from “angry old white dudes,” according to News.com.au.
Lambert wrote in defense of performing the song in a statement to The Advocate:
As a lesbian in Western Massachusetts, it's easy to forget that gay marriage is illegal in the majority of the world and that gay relationships are illegal and punishable in 76 countries. ... Performing "Same Love" in Australia is not about being political, it's about being human. I know that many people view this song as a politicized gay anthem, but this is also very much a love song.
Former rugby player Tony Wall is so against Macklemore performing his biggest hit that he created a Change.org petition to demand the 2013 song be banned, claiming that the song, about treating LGBT people with dignity, takes a “bold political stance” and that he wouldn’t want his family to feel uncomfortable at the match. However, he said nothing about LGBT people and their families feeling uncomfortable every day that people like him oppose their basic civil rights.
“My family and many other loyal NRL fans, who are no voters, will not feel comfortable watching the grand final when the NRL is imposing such a bold political stance on its fans while the issue is currently being voted on by the Australian people,” Wall wrote in his petition, according to The Guardian.
But he’s not the only one to get his knickers in a knot over the performance of the song. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott tweeted, “Footy fans shouldn’t be subjected to a politicized grand final. Sport is sport!”
One particularly hysterical spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage, David Goodwin, said that team flags should fly at the event and “not rainbow flags,” as if that were on the agenda. He continued to say that it’s “pretty bizarre that the NRL would choose to use its halftime entertainment to push a message which it knows millions of Australians disagree with.”
At the 2014 Grammy Awards, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Lambert, and Madonna performed the song together while Queen Latifah, who was sworn in, performed the marriages of nearly 30 same-sex couples.
Macklemore addressed the controversy on American radio program The Cruz Show prior to leaving for Australia.
“I’m gonna play 'Same Love' and they’re going through trying to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia,” Macklemore said. “So I’m getting a lot of tweets from angry old white dudes in Australia. Today, I think there is a petition to ban me from playing.” When the radio host suggested Macklemore not back down from what has become political whether he intended it to or not, he said, “I’m gonna go harder.”
Read Lambert's full statement to The Advocate:
As a lesbian in Western Massachusetts, it's easy to forget that gay marriage is illegal in the majority of the world and that gay relationships are illegal and punishable in 76 countries. SEVENTY-SIX COUNTRIES. Performing "Same Love" in Australia is not about being political, it's about being human. I know that many people view this song as a politicized gay anthem, but this is also very much a love song.
This is the first time I am a little anxious going into a performance with Ben [Macklemore] but I think that discomfort means that we are doing something right. Otherwise, we'd just continue performing this song in an echo chamber of people that agree with us — what an opportunity to share the message of love and acceptance to people who need it, you know?
I've read that Australia's previous PM, Tony Abbott, and a former rugby player have started a petition to ban us from performing the song. Well, Mr. Tony Abbott: Gay people exist, they will continue to exist, and I bet you some of them are rugby players and fans that are carrying unnecessary shame that you continue to perpetuate. I've repeatedly found that the people who scream the loudest in opposition to gay marriage are often those who are uncomfortable with their own sexuality. Some of the worst homophobes in my life eventually came out as gay. As Shakespeare might say, "Thou doth protest too much" or "You smelt it, you dealt it, little buddy."