19 Mar 2013

Labor The True Opponents Of Gay Marriage

By Sarah Hanson-Young

The Greens have always supported a cross-party approach to marriage equality, and to suggest otherwise is an apparatchik's fever dream. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young replies to Neil Pharaoh

Marriage equality has found its time but, unfortunately, there is only one political party in Australia genuinely fighting for this essential social reform.

The Greens have been a strong voice for gay and lesbian Australians since we first formed. It was Bob Brown and Christine Milne who led the fight to legalise homosexuality in Tasmania over two decades ago and the first bill I ever introduced into the Senate, back in 2009, was a marriage equality bill. That was the first time marriage equality had been put before the Parliament.

Since then my colleague Adam Bandt and I have relentlessly pursued same-sex marriage reform, in both houses of parliament, and we will continue to do so until we win this fight. If it were up to the Greens, gay and lesbian Australians would have been able to marry the person they love many years ago but unfortunately, without support from either of the old parties, that hasn’t happened.

I have regularly called for a cross-partisan approach towards marriage equality and have consistently offered to co-sponsor bills with members of the ALP and the coalition since 2010. These overtures were rejected by Labor, who wanted to rush to an early vote on their own bill to get marriage equality off the agenda, despite the marriage equality movement’s wishes.

I worked closely with Australian Marriage Equality and the Coalition to establish a Senate inquiry into my marriage bill. The Labor Party was opposed to that inquiry but as a result of it we saw – for the first time – Greens, Liberal and Labor MPs working together towards the goal of marriage equality. I, again in conjunction with the advocates, sought cross-party sponsorship of a bill in the Senate, where it had the best chance of passing a vote. Again I encountered nothing but opposition from the Labor Party.

Yesterday’s vague allegations about Adam Bandt are the outpourings of a Labor apparatchik’s feverish imagination. The central claim – that Bandt “discovered” something, then acted in a certain way – is laughable. So devoid is the “allegation” of one shred of supporting evidence that even the Labor hack responsible for it felt compelled to put it in inverted commas. The record at the time showed that Bandt repeatedly and publicly called for co-sponsorship of the bill in the House and urged Labor not to fast-track the bill to a vote until there was more time to prevail upon Coalition MPs.

Because our bill remains alive and was debated again in the House yesterday, Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer could announce she personally felt comfortable with equal marriage. Labor MP Graham Perrett, who chaired the inquiry into the equal marriage bills, said yesterday he was pleased for the chance of further debate. Things are changing.

Being able to marry the person you want to spend the rest of your life with should be a universal right and should not be controlled by party politics. It has been disappointing to watch the Labor Party, so beholden to its bully boy factions, fail at every turn to take up the offers of a cross-party approach and genuinely support marriage equality in Australia. They are continuing to play politics, both internally and externally, and it is the LGBTI community of Australia who are continuing to suffer.

Often this sort of political maneuvering is done behind the closed doors of ALP factional bosses’ offices but in 2011 Joe de Bruyn, who is on the ALP national executive, placed his cards on the table for all to see. He told a meeting of the Australian Christian Lobby exactly how the right wing Labor factions would kill the party’s own marriage equality bill by making the Prime Minister vote against it, scaring other MPs into toeing the line. He said that the fight against same-sex marriage was an “ongoing battle that we can’t afford to lose”.

Well, because of the excessive power the Right has inside of the ALP, they didn’t lose. The Prime Minster voted against her own party’s bill, going against the party’s official policy position, and as the backbenchers lined up to fall in behind her the bill was defeated. It is so sad that such an important debate for so many Australians was killed off by the Labor factions at such a crucial time.

The Prime Minister has never explained to the Australian people why she opposes same-sex marriage and that has left a lot of people wondering what her actual position would be if it weren’t for the factions. Julia Gillard has failed to show any leadership on this issue while Tony Abbott is continuing to block coalition MPs from voting with their conscience.

Australia is becoming more and more isolated in the international community as it fails to act on same-sex marriage, but there is light on the horizon. This campaign has come such a long way because of the hard work of advocates in the community and while the politicians of the old parties have failed them up until now, it is inevitable that they will soon prevail.

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Posted Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 14:25

I could be the greenest of Greens but one thing is patently obvious unless I am demented... which is also a possibility.

Marriage is generally a quasi religious affair. All the major religions want their particular god to sanctify their choice. But the gods are usually standing firm. We must know that the big guy up there, he don like nuthin but two (each of the opposite sex) and at least 9 months later - if possible - a rug rat to confirm their moral choice. No ifs no buts

If we dont like gay marriage, same sex marriage, or other perfectly OK ways of declaring love publicly, we should just find a god/gddess who might be inclined to bless our choice rather than trying to change what a Pope has declared to be acceptable to our particular god. Or even just throw a party which marks the event

However on reflection the issues involved at least give those without a tangible mission, some hope for a fight... a good ol punch up to prove that we are good, right, moral, and formidable. For if we choose this fight we must be stronger than the god or the Pope to prevail and hope that we can hold our nerve.

Without the blessing of a god, 'Marriage' is a common law event, which probably predates conventional modern marriage. An event which is just as tall as the conventional marriage with the added mystique of difference.

My apologies for a circumventional approach.

Posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - 13:43

What a load of c**p from Hojuruku who predicts the disasters that will result from same sex marriage will start society on the slippery slope to total collapse of civilization. He's clearly a fan of the previous pope who declared that same sex oriented people pose a greater threat to humanity than wars or global warming.

Twenty years ago the Decriminalisation of homosexual acts was going to destroy civilization, i recall. Instead it has made our cities more peaceful and less dangerous for 10% of the population.

Congratulations and thanks Adam Bandt and Sarah and the Greens for being the only decent, trustworthy, thoughtful, rational and far-seeing politicians in the country.

Posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - 15:55

I am a member of The Greens, I am also a supporter of GetUp!, but I have been somewhat ambiguous about this marriage busilness.. I do NOT support Marriage, period.   To me, it is a religious anachronism, really nothing to do with modern living.  People have progeny, far too many of them, without having to be married. 

Yes, I realise that there are millions of humans, brainwashed and controlled from early life, who follow religious precepts, and give ..marriage..some sort of religious fervour, then, usually, withn 7 years, they are bitterly divorced, and any progeny are left at the door of the State, too often. 

As I have said before, those out there who need to have a LEGAL right to say they are a couple, should be able to have a Civil ceremony if they wish, with Legal ramilfications, but leave the damned religious trappings out of it.  We all know that these days, lots of 'straight' people are indeed having a Civil Ceremony, NO RELIGION, and quite happy about it. 

That would, I am sure, make the religious nutters much happier, cause the furore to die away, and let us all settle down to contemplating  a future  ruled by The Mad Monk as PM and his Team of Nutters.  That is horrifying enough as it is, as a Queenslander suffering under the JackBoots of ReichFuhrer Newman, giving lots of indications of what life will be like under the Mad Monk. 

As for La Gillartine, she votes against Gay Marriage beause she is the  puppet of Religious Right Wing factional heavies, and for some reason thinks that making them, the Christian Right, the Islamic Right, happy and perhaps voting for her.  She is in for a rude shock.  Their vote is firmly in the pocket of the Mad Monk.  He is ONE OF THEM!