The Push For Marriage Equality In Australia

In Politics: Genral, Politics: Marriage Equality, Politics: Queensland on June 25, 2011 by mjwill91

Same sex marriage is to the opening decades of the 21st century as civil rights was to the 1960s and the suffrage movement was to the 1920s- an issue which many people in the community see as not being an issue at all, and yet despite this, is something which the “higher ups” and the lobby groups don’t want to touch with a 10ft pole. The push for the legalisation and recognition of same sex marriage in Australia has never been stronger than it is now, with every state branch of the Australian Labor Party (sans New South Wales) passing motions in support of amending the Marriage Act to allow for same sex marriage.

Bligh at the QLD State Labor Conference

Premier of Queensland and National President of the Australia Labor Party Anna Bligh said of the move by QLD State Labor to support same sex marriage last week,

I was very pleased to see marriage equality supported by the Labor conference, It’s an issue of basic human rights and fairness [and] legal recognition for pairings based on love is perfectly reasonable regardless of gender” 

Despite this, we have at the federal level a woman, who to all outwardly appearances seemed to be a liberal (note the use of the lowercase “L”), socially progressive and secular leader, but who in reality is actually at the very least a closet-quasi-conservative and at the worst, someone whom actively deceived her way into power by pretending to stand for social progression, or alternatively- she might well be a liberal, socially progressive and secular leader, simply held to ransom by the powerful Catholic dominated far-right faction of the party, too weak willed, too insipid to actually make a stand and take a risk for something that is ultimately in the best interests of a egalitarian society.

So what is all the fuss about? Well- it comes back to this: some people believe that because a several thousand year old manuscript of dubious quality makes a passing comment about the sanctity of marriage in ancient Judea and that the institution was between a man and a woman only, that means that is the way it must stay forever. Some see marriage as something more than it actually is, some see it as a divine covenant with/ or promise between us and “God”. In reality- it isn’t anything like that. Marriage isn’t divine. Marriage isn’t a promise to God. Marriage is a legal contract between two people that creates and recognises kinship. Marriage isn’t presided over by a divine Judeo-Christian arbiter, it’s controlled by the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), an Act of the Parliament of Australia which governs and defines legal marriage in Australia, made possible by section 51 (xxi) of the Australian Constitution which determines that it is to be dealt with on a federal level.

So, there is nothing mystical, magical or divine about marriage in this country. It’s a legal contract, controlled by Commonwealth legislation and the argument that same sex marriage is an affront to God is invalid when you consider that fact. God doesn’t factor into the equation at all. Therefore, any and all discrimination re: same sex marriage on the grounds of it infringing on the rights of religious groups and organisations is also totally moot.

The Empire State Building goes Rainbow for Pride Week

The move by the US State of New York to allow same sex marriage is not only a step in the right direction in a country which to be fair is a societal backwater and a mire of inequity but also a clear challenge to the current Australian Government. The Marriage Equality Act passed by the New York State Senate was made all the more remarkable by the fact it passed in a Republican controlled Senate with the help of Republican senators crossing the floor to vote with Democrats senators. If marriage equality legislation can pass through an ideologically hostile Senate in the US, how come our current socially progressive (self-professed but dubiously), left-wing government can’t seem to find the backbone it need to do what is right? If put to a vote, marriage equality legislation would pass through the House of Representatives with at least a two vote majority (based on it NOT being a conscience vote and every ALP candidate voting for it, and everything LibNat voting against it- with Bandt and Wilkie supporting it- Katter not supporting it) and would breeze through soon to be Green Senate.

According to an Australian Marriage Equality commissioned Newspoll taken last month, 3 in 4 Australians over the age of 18 believe that the legalisation and recognisation of same sex marriage by an Australian federal government is inevitable, and an earlier Galaxy Poll suggested that 62% of Australians of voting age and higher believe that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry.

However, despite the numerous calls from the community and the increasing societal support of the issue, our federal government refuses to move on the issue, or even discuss it until at least until the National Conference in December. Now there are several reasons that they are doing this, the first being that same sex marriage legislation is the ace-up-their-sleeve, which they intend to pull out if the primary vote somehow get even more pathetically dismal that it is now. Frankly, politically that isn’t a silly move, morally though- using it as a tool to win votes and possibly another term is ethically dubious to say the least.

JG deep in thought, probably wondering how she can further alienate the voter base...

When asked today whether or not Australia is falling behind on the issue of marriage equality at a press conference this morning in Western Australia (which coincidentally passed a motion in support of marriage equality today) she replied,

“We’ll make our own decisions on this country based on what’s right for Australia, my views in this area are well know” 

It might be “extrapolating” what she said a bit, but seeing as she doesn’t support same sex marriage (her views are well know, if not appreciated- we don’t elect the Prime Minister for their personal opinions, hell- we don’t directly elect them at all) and in her answer she said she’s doing “what’s right for Australia” then would it be a stretch to suggest that not only does Gillard not support same sex marriage, but she actually thinks that the perpetuation of an utterly discriminatory policy is in the country’s best interests….hmm…

In the end though, Gillard’s personal views on the issue mean nothing. In all likelihood she won’t be Prime Minister for too many more years, and despite the nasty conservative surprise that we’ll get when/if/when she get’s dumped in 2013, the fact is that it’ll allow for some of the “rising stars” in the ALPs ranks will be able to rise to positions of greater prominence in the party and maybe, just maybe- they won’t be as beholden to the Archdiocese that is the ALP factional far right.

– Matt. @mjwill90


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