Marriage equality bills to hit Parliament today

Today ALP backbencher Stephen Jones will introduce a bill into the House of Representatives calling for marriage equality. Greens MP Adam Bandt and Independent Andrew Wilkie will introduce a similar co-sponsored bill, containing a specific provision that will exempt religious ministers from solemnising marriages between a same-sex couple.

I’d like to be optimistic, even enthusiastic, about this. But I’m afraid I really, really can’t.

Because unless Opposition Leader Tony Abbott loosens his stranglehold on the Coalition’s consciences, the bills will fail.

We’ve already seen what happens when Bandt or Wilkie tries to introduce ‘controversial’ legislation. The major parties fall into lockstep against them. Granted, the ALP passed the resolution at its last conference to make marriage equality a matter of conscience, so perhaps there might be a few more bums on seats sitting with the two minority MPs this time around. But there are enough Labor members determinedly opposed to same-sex marriage to ensure the bills suffer a resounding defeat.

Jones’ bill may fare more kindly. After all, he’s a Labor man, and even those who won’t support Bandt and Wilkie on principle might vote for one of their own. Again, though, the bill runs up against the Coalition’s refusal to allow its members a conscience vote.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has already signalled her intention to introduce a marriage equality bill later in the year. This is as clear a signal as she could send that she expects today’s bills to fail – and probably her own as well. At this point, the strategy appears to be one of simply flooding the Parliament with similar bills in the hope that it will wear down MPs’ resolve – and that in the end, they might vote for it just to get the issue out of the way.

That this strategy should even have to be considered, let alone employed, is shameful. It’s a matter of civil rights – human rights – that are denied to Australian citizens. Worse, it’s a matter of a privileged majority not wanting to have that privilege ‘sullied’ by having to share it.

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the numbers will be there. Maybe some Coalition members will defy Abbott’s decree and cross the floor to support marriage equality – or at least inform him privately that they intend to do so, at which point I predict a swift reversal of the ‘no conscience vote’ stance. Maybe the rest of the ALP will realise that clinging to privilege and discrimination flies in the face of everything that party supposedly stands for, and support a bill.

It’s possible.

It’s also possible politicians will stop lying in Parliament, abandon mindless party loyalty in favour of the good of the people, and remember that they are our servants, not our masters.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Tell her she’s dreaming.

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3 Responses to Marriage equality bills to hit Parliament today

  1. Mark Churches says:

    Could you imagine the political & public backlash if Tony Abbott actually were to try and demote Opposition Front Benchers who voted in favour of Marriage Equaility? It’d be leadership suicide for him.

    Abbott is a man who couldn’t win against Kevin Rudd, even after she deposed K-Rudd Tony Abbott could not win the election against Julia Gillard. Clearly the nation doesn’t believe Tony Abbott is capable, let alone trustworthy enough to run this country, he can’t even stop Opposition MP’s from defecting with help from the ALP so they may become Speaker of the House.

    Tony Abbott is hanging on to his tenure as Opposition Leadership by a thread. One more election loss & Opposition MP’s will be swiftly pushing him aside as they opportunistically clamor to become Opposition Leader.

    Tony Abbott, I dare you to even try to demote any of your Opposition Front Benchers whom intend to vote in favour of Marriage Equality. If you do & it subsequently blows up in your face, we’ll try not to applaud too loudly or laugh too hard when you are shown the door & hits it hits you on the a##e on the way out.

    Malcolm Turbull for Opposition Leader!

  2. Scott says:

    Great post!

    What surprises me is that they don’t see that this is a losing battle !?!

    Why say, “No”? This change is happening all over the world. It’s obvious to me it WILL happen here, eventually. Why not be seen as the ones who said yes… rather than the ones who people look back on as the last government to think inequality was ok…

  3. David Fawcett says:

    Wish could tell you that you weren’t dreaming. 😦

    Great post though.

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