Archive for the ‘Politics: Marriage Equality’ Category

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An Historic Week for LGBT Rights, Nationwide

In Politics: Genral,Politics: Marriage Equality,Politics: Queensland,Politics: Rallies & Protests on December 3, 2011 by mjwill91

The last week has been a fairly monumental week for LGBT rights, nationwide. Earlier this week we saw the Queensland Legislative Assembly pass the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011, a bill allowing for and recognising the validity of same sex relationships. We also saw today the Australian Labor Party officially changing it’s position on same sex marriage, adding it to their party platform.

In a sitting of the Legislative Assembly than ran late into the night, the views of numerous MPs from both sides of the political divide were heard, along with the views of their constituents. The bill passed at 11:10PM with 47 votes (46 Labor MPs and Independent MP Peter Wellington) to 40.

Premier Bligh & Dep. Premier Fraser address a pro-equality rally outside the QLD Legislative Assembly. Photo: Daniel Hurst

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser said that the Civil Partnerships Bill struck a blow against the discrimination that same sex couples had faced in the path, calling it a “momentous occasion for civil rights in this state”, as Queensland moved into line with Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

In a move considered surprising given his previous vocal support for marriage equality, the non-sitting, de facto leader of the Liberal National Party & former Lord Mayor of Brisbane; Campbell Newman did not allow Liberal National Members a conscience vote on the issue, which raises the question, “what does our alternative Premier actually believe?” or better yet “can we trust what Campbell Newman says?”.

For a little bit of added poignancy, the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011 passed the Legislative Assembly exactly 21 years to the day that Queensland decriminalised homosexuality – how far we’ve come in such a short stretch of time.

Of course, that isn’t the end of the changes that we’ve seen over the last week, with the Federal Labor Party officially changing it’s position on same sex marriage today at the Labor National Conference- unfortunately, as I predicted several months ago, the Prime Minister has, while allowing the party platform to change, has essentially scuppered the debate by allowing it to go to a conscience vote, doomed to fail on the floor of our Parliament.

Senator Wong & ACT Dep. Chief Minister Barr receive pro-Marriage equality petition from GetUp!'s Simon Sheik // Picture: Renee Nowytarger

In October I suggested that the Prime Minister might circumvent the National Conference alltogether, allowing a conscience vote to get shot down before we got to today, effectively “washing her hands” of the issue before it could go to a vote. Well, I wasn’t exactly correct there, but I wasn’t too far off.

By allowing a conscience vote, Julia Gillard; puppet of the right faction, will have her own views on marriage equality unchallenged. A conscience vote in the House of Representatives will not pass… even if Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote (which he won’t, regardless of the Liberal Party being a “broad church”) any amendment to the Marriage Act will not pass.

So. The Prime Minister & the Labor Party can bask in the glory of being a “progressive party”, without being progressive at all. Brilliant… and completely expected as well.

So now we wait. Stephen Jones, ALP MP will be putting up a private members bill at the start of the next sitting period of Parliament – which means another month or so before marriage equality is shot down in flames in the Parliament.

Don’t get me wrong. Today has been a monumental day in the history of LGBT rights in Australia. It’s just, I don’t think any of us should expect anything to come out of it any time soon.

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Marriage Equality – A Conscience Issue, not a Conscience Vote

In Politics: Genral,Politics: Marriage Equality on October 21, 2011 by mjwill91

Marriage equality is a cause that I’ve written on a few times before, due to the closeness of the issue to my heart, as both a gay man who one day hopes to have the same rights as straight people and a someone who believes that above all else, we must push for total equality. In the opinion pieces that I have written before, in June and August respectively, I discussed the push for marriage equality, and the steadily increasing support for marriage equality in the wider community.

Since my last piece there have been several important developments in the marriage equality debate, namely Tasmania passing a motion calling on Julia Gillard and the federal government to amend the Marriage Act through the Tasmanian House of Assembly and the appointment of Jay Weatherill, a vocal supporter of marriage equality as Premier of South Australia. As significant as these developments have been, it’s developments that are predicted to occur over the next few weeks that could change the nature of the debate as we know it.

Whilst not a bastion of brilliant reporting, the Herald Sun is reporting today that “several government sources” are claiming that Julia Gillard will be reversing her decision on marriage equality, by allowing a conscience vote on the issue, with these sources claiming that show may make the announcement as early as this coming Monday, or after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.

This reversal by Julia Gillard could be perceived by some as simply her “doing the right thing”, finally listening to the community on the issue of marriage equality. Whilst I’d like to believe that, there are at least two other reasons, both far more likely, both far less palatable reasons why Gillatf might well shift her view on the issue of marriage equality in the coming weeks.

The first of those reasons shouldn’t be too surprising: votes. A Galaxy Poll released today, commissioned by the Australian Marriage Equality lobby definitively shows that the ALP and Julia Gillard stand to make fairly significant gains, if only they shifted their positions on marriage equality. The poll found that over half of current Australian Greens voters and one third of all “young voters” would be more likely to vote for the ALP and Julia Gillard, if the party was to chance it’s stance on Marriage Equality. Not only is the appealing because of it’s potential to “win back” some voters that migrated from the ALP to the Australian Greens at the last election, but because it would secure a predicted 5% swing towards the ALP, at a time when every percentage point counts.

The other reason is a far less palatable one- to scuttle the marriage equality debate before the ALP National Conference in December by allowing the amendment to get “shot down” in the House of Representatives- through a conscience vote with no chance of passing.

The ALP is a party of broad and differing beliefs and political ideologies, and there exists within the party great opposition to marriage equality, predominantly from MPs representing lower socio-economic (and generally less intelligent) electorates and from members of the catholic-dominated right faction. Given the current make-up of this minority government. Of course, given the closeness in numbers in the House of Representatives, any amendment would require the support of every Labor MP and a majority of MPs on the crossbenches (assuming that Tony Abbott will require all Liberal National MPs to toe the party line – a safe assumption).

If put to a conscience vote, the amendment will fail. Then come December all Julia Gillard would have to do to throw a wet blanket over the issue of marriage equality would be to say “I allowed a vote. It failed. The numbers just don’t exist – ALTHOUGH, we’ll continue to support same-sex unions…”

The next few weeks will be interesting to say the least, with the very course of the debate on marriage equality set to be decided.

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Marriage Equality Debate: Anti-Marriage Equality Rally Held in Canberra

In Politics: Marriage Equality on August 16, 2011 by mjwill91

I think by now we are all aware of Bob Katter’s comment that he’d “walk backwards from Bourke if the poof population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001 per cent” (at this time he was unaware of the gay couple who owned the local bakery, less than 100m walk from his electorate office… what a dedicated local member he is *rolls eyes*). Whilst we all (gay, bisexual straight or other) might get a chuckle out of the apparent willful ignorance of relics of the past like Bob Katter, behind his “old man political incorrectness” lies an irrational & borderline illegal hatred and discrimination of homosexual Australians made all the more concerning by the fact that he is seemingly not alone in Parliament.

So much potential for ridicule in this picture... the hat, hand on the hip, tight pants, phallic fruit...

Whilst many of you were focussed on the frankly hilarious (for all the wrong reasons) No Carbon Tax Rally, otherwise known as the “Shady Pines Retirement Home bi-annual trip to the Canberra”, not enough of us were focussing on a FAR more insidious rally- the anti-Marriage Equality rally.

Australia is quickly beginning to look like the social backwater of the western world, discounting the flaming (in the “literally on fire” sense) cesspit that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Why? Our outdated views on marriage equality at a federal level. When a country of such overwhelming religious zealotry such as the United States can pass marriage equality laws in multiple states, the question is: why can’t we?

Katter railing at the audience..

Katter, more-so than the other MPs who spoke drifted into the realm of “hatespeak”, toeing the line of what is legally acceptable to say in public. His comments that “this proposition [gay marriage] deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed. It doesn’t deserve any serious treatment”  and that the word “gay” was once a “beautiful word” that had been “stolen” by homosexuals (there’s quite substantial evidence that the term “gay” was first associated with homosexuality in the 1920s BY “heterosexual society”- so we didn’t “steal” it) border on what is generally accepted as “hatespeak” as defined by several separate pieces of both Federal and State anti-discrimination legislation. In several jurisdictions around the country, anti-hatespeak legislation is designed to give redress when a person is victimised on account of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Katter’s vitriol is only slightly less offensive than the bile spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, an American group who have been barred from entry to our country due to them being a “hate group”.

Liberal MP and runner-up in the SuperNova 2011 “Borg Look-a-like” contest Kevin Andrews’ opinion re: marriage equality is as equally unsurprising as Katter’s with Andrews stating that “this is a destruction of marriage, not simply a redefinition” 

Barnaby trying out "1940s fascist dictator chic"

Leader of the Nationals in the Senate Barnaby Joyce stated that he “feared” for the future of his four daughters if same sex marriage was allowed, saying “we know that the best protection for those girls is that they get into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen to them, I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me” Firstly- is Barnaby suggesting that if men could marry other men that there would be no men left willing to marry his daughters… hmmm…. if they are anything like their dimwitted father I can see how that might be a possibility. Secondly- what Barnaby is talking about is the protection of his rights. THis totally boils down to rights… rights that Barnaby feels would be jeopardised by giving everyone in society the same rights… hmm… ok then…

Despite the protests of relics like Bob Katter MP, Kevin Andrews MP, Barnaby Joyce MP and John Murphy MP that allowing gay people to marry will not only weaken the institution (if anything- allowing anyone who is in love to declare that love publicly through marriage would STRENGTHEN the currently faltering institution) but is also an “affront” to a Judaeo-Christian sky-deity (sorry Katter/Kevin/John, in Australia, marriage is actually a legally recognised institution controlled by the Marriage Act 1961, an Act of Federal Parliament which governs and legally defines marriage in Australia- made possibly by s51 [xxi] of the Australian Constitution), it seems that in some respects they are being left behind by an increasingly socially accepting and liberal society….

All State Labor parties (bar NSW) have backed marriage equality. The approval rate for marriage equality is close to 70% given most recent polls. Surprisingly, poll results released today have shown that even amongst Christians (the historical enemy of marriage equality) 53% of those polled believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry- so perhaps it’s only a matter of time, or rather: a matter of political convenience.

– Matt. @mjwill90

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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