I must admit that I haven’t been following the gay marriage debate that closely. I had read some excellent stuff from small ‘r’ right-wing politician, Malcolm Turnbull (that small ‘r’ is right as in correct) but he was clearly constrained by affiliation with a party not confident in their members to let them vote with their conscience. But otherwise I had figured there was broader support.

I guess I have been away too long. The vote on gay marriage was overwhelmingly defeated with much of the government voting against it. My reading of this is that, as it turns out, they perceive the electorate as not ready and are unwilling to show moral leadership. The alternative is that they are bigoted on this issue. Take your pick. Either way, it doesn’t look good. And let’s face it, when the US President comes out in favour of a change in moral stance, you know that when you oppose it you are on the wrong side of history. And when it actually impacts on people who are not harming anyone else, the whole exercise is shameful and repugnant.

By way of contrast, yesterday I happened to be in a meeting with members of the Icelandic parliament. They are proud of their attitudes in this space and even prouder that they have elected a leader who is not only openly gay but married as well. They should be proud of the fact that they have got to the right value system relatively quickly.

One member of Parliament who did not vote ‘yes’ yesterday was Andrew Leigh. He is very supportive of gay marriage and bases his views on evidence as much as morals (although the latter would be sufficient). However, Andrew was on paternity leave and welcomed a new baby into the world just as the vote was taking place. As it was a conscience vote, he could not pair his vote and so support was one less than it would have been. Of course, given our research on birth timing, it seems like he is a case against the sort of power we think parents have to negotiate birth dates. But then again, the vote was only symbolic. I suspect that had his colleagues been on board and the vote had mattered he and is wife might have done with his absence.

But Andrew taking paternity leave raises another point of order. If Andrew were gay, right now, he would not have had a right to ‘skip work’ to attend the birth of his child. The Government has passed legislation to enable this but that will only come into effect in 2013. Think about it. By dint of his sexual preference, Andrew could hold his new born on a workday; something denied others. Shame.

3 Responses to Shame Australia Shame

  1. Jim S says:

    Australia. Less liberal on the issue than Catholic Mexico. Shame.

    ” On 29 December 2009, Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard signed the [same-sex marriage]bill into law and it became effective on March 4, 2010.[1][2] On August 5, the Supreme Court voted 9-2 to uphold the constitutionality of Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law.[15] On August 10, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City must be recognized throughout the country.[16]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Mexico_City

  2. Matt says:

    While I support same-sex marriage, the status quo in Australia isn’t too bad. The bi-partisan deal enacted under the Howard government was that in exchange for defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the government committed to amending all laws so that gay and hetero unions are treated the same. The paternity leave anomaly must have slipped through the cracks.

    At the end of the day, when it comes to taxes, adoption, ceremonies, divorce, etc, same-sex couples effectively *can* get married, it’s just not called marriage. But then again, there’s nothing to stop them *saying* they’re married, wearing a ring, and taking their partner’s surname.

    This is different to the United States, where marriage makes a big difference to taxes and inheritance.

  3. Chris Lloyd says:

    This call of shame reminds me of the nonsense about Pauline Hanson. France had Le Penn, England had marauding National front thugs. The worst we could come up with was an inarticulate ranga fish-and-chips shop owner. I was actually kind of proud that our Pauline represented the most right wing Australian politics has to offer.

    Gay marriage vote? No shame involved. The left leaning ALP allowed a conscience vote. 38/72 ALP voted in favour. They would be pretty representative of the 40-60 year old demographic I reckon. Would we have them vote against their conscience? All the greens voted in favour. What else would they do? The right of centre LNP imposed a no vote, consistent with their party policy on the issue. That is what right wing parties usually do. How many right of centre parties have gay marriage as part of their policy? Not too many. Nothing unusual here. Keep walking!

    Those who are in the country would know that the vote was never intended to pass. The numbers were already decided. It was an opening salvo to keep the issue on the agenda. The only concrete issue mentioned is parental leave which parliament has moved to rectify. Shame indeed.

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