Same-sex marriage: the PM is doing my head in

1 Dec

For the life of me I cannot fathom Julia Gillard’s position on same-sex marriage.

As Bernard Keane points out here it’s a ludicrous issue to stake her authority on (that is, it’s not a ludicrous issue, just so well- supported in the community she’s going against the tide) yet she’s gone ahead and done that right from the start.

The day after Gillard took office she announced the proposed detention centre in East Timor (boing) and her intention to retain the current wording of the Marriage Act which declares the institution to be solely the domain of heterosexuals. This wording was only introduced in 2004, BTW, when the Act was reformed by John Howard to prevent same-sex marriage in Australia. It’s not as if the PM is protecting a long-standing legal definition.

At the time the PM stated her intention and her personal belief that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, I desperately asked why? Why?  It wasn’t as if it was an issue at the time. KRudd MP had just been knifed, we were all in shock including the media, and the last thing on anyobody’s mind was same-sex marriage. With the exception perhaps of the Australian Christian Lobby who think about it all the time. All the time, I tell you, to the extent that they have now produced a three-minute video urging the ALP not to change its stance on marriage and gathered 100,000 signatures on a petition they plan to present to the ALP.

And here a little joke from my Twitter friend David Horton of The Watermelon Blog:Is a Christian backlash a kind of religious porn?

Interestingly, one of the luminaries featured in the ACL’s video is Joe de Bruyn, National Secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, and member of the ALP National Executive.

Gillard’s objections are not religious because she’s an atheist. She doesn’t seem to value marriage particularly highly in her personal life, choosing instead to live in a de facto relationship. Her efforts to contrive a conscience vote on the issue are a manipulative cop-out: same-sex marriage isn’t a matter of anyone’s “beliefs” it’s a matter of equality.

If Gillard has her way and the Marriage Act remains unchanged, the PM is going to look sooo two centuries ago. If she’s out-voted she’ll lose considerable face, and her authority as leader will be tarnished. Why would anyone put themselves in such a position over this issue, especially when she has no personal investment in the institution?

Julia Gillard has benefited enormously from societal changes over the last thirty years. Even ten years ago, it would have been difficult for a female atheist living in a de facto relationship to become Prime Minister of this country. It is particularly disappointing that someone who has gained so much from society’s ability to make enormous changes, cannot bring herself to support further changes that will bring equality to people of the same-sex who love each other. Time to give something back, Julia.

14 Responses to “Same-sex marriage: the PM is doing my head in”

  1. Doug Pollard December 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Don’y mention the DLP. Julia is a prisoner of history on this one. She and her backers are obsessed with the notion that if they back gay marriage, the Catholics will split the party again. Well, I say, let them. Call their bluff. See how long they last out here on their own. Bewtter off without them.


    • AjinDarwin December 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      There is a whiff of hypocrisy in Julia’s stance given her aspiration to give everyone a fair go. The social changes that allowed for women to step out of the kitchen, drink at a pub, vote and have careers without anyone thinking it unusual also swept up a general liberalisation in views on homosexuality. No one raises an eyebrow any more yet she holds to a value system better left in the 50’s. There are no votes in this for her although she does have the comfort of knowing the opposition are for once less likely to oppose her stance. Still its a strange expression to use this issue as a display of her relatively new found power. I think shes trying to make a statement of individualism and parade a little. But why this particular issue? its just odd especially given her anti-conservative idealogical base from which she arrived. That said, she’s on record as saying she doesnt see herself as any kind of poster woman or advocate for the feminist movement either so I guess shes just picking and choosing whimsically?


      • Jennifer Wilson December 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

        Doug Pollard suggests she’s a prisoner of history, the spectre of the DLP and the threat the Catholics will split the party again on the issue. That makes sense. Otherwise, like you, I’m totally puzzled.


  2. Steve at the Pub December 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    The ALP voter base is very socially conservative. The PM is not going against the tide, but with it.


  3. Sheeple Liberator December 2, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    It doesn’t matter how old a legal definition is: it can be changed. A legal definition is only made up by the law-makers of the day to reflect the social attitudes of that time. As social attitudes change, laws can (and should) be changed. Shock horror.

    This is probably the most obvious statement in the world that I’m making, except that many of those Aussies who are against same-sex marriage seem not to be able to understand this idea. They’re entitled to their opinion, but if I hear one more person use the line “oh, but the Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman” as the only justification someone can think of for opposing same-sex marriage, I might move to another planet.

    People who don’t get this should be banned from marriage, and from pro-creating, so that their inferior genes are removed from the genepool 🙂


  4. gerard oosterman December 2, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Julia herself is living unmarried and many would think that’s a bit ‘off’ as well. For her to be against marriage in same sex is hypocritical, most unfortunate for a party that should be keen to renew itself and show leadership and be forerunners of reform and progress. Oops ‘progress’, sorry…., what ain’t broke don’t fix it, is our historical mantra.


  5. Matthew December 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    “Documents obtained by the famed VEXNEWS Investigations Unit […] reveal that in 1983, Julia Gillard appeared to be at the very least closely aligned with the lesbian political movement with the then notoriously left-wing Australian Union of Students.


    In a publication of the Australian Union of Students Womens Department […] AUS President GIllard was embraced by lesbian activists who were celebrating what they called “International Year of the Lesbian”.

    Julia Gillard is pictured in an intimate setting with fellow female AUS office-bearers “Gayle and Sue” […].

    While those who remember her time in student politics tell VEXNEWS she was very much a moderate leftist at the time compared with the prevailing lunacy of AUS that eventually killed it, lesbian sisters at the time were very much on-side.”


  6. Marilyn December 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Enshrining bigotry and racism – what a party.

    Nothing has changed since they started up in the 1880’s.


  7. paul walter December 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Yet, the conference passed the motion.
    Poor old labor, it loses either way. The coalition, who have instigated no such reforms themselves, receive not a word of criticism. Yet as SATP says, its no mystery that much of Labor’s grass roots support is socially conservative working class.
    That is, ordinary people from a culture of exploitation over generations; “kicking against the wind” and resistance, that is the history of Labor as much as, “enshrining bigotry and racism”.
    Because they didn’t want the bosses playing off locals against foreign workers to drive down living conditions?
    Working people, feeling disempowered, cling to their values and beleifs right or wrong, in the hope of establishing a social ethic that provides some sort of footing by which they can survive in life, also. So marriage as something important and an offset to the dominant materialism of consumer capitalist life, could be be seen as resistance to the undermining of working class values by consumerism, social alienation and atomisation of the individual.
    Nuclear marriage as we know it is the culmination of a social reconciliation process best summed up in the Harvester judgement of a century ago and it’s the system that has produced todays Australians, faults and virtues alike. A historical process and well and truly still in the making. So when the values no longer match the dominant economic mode ( eg traditional agrarian peasant values, to high tech capitalism ) it’s got to be obvious that older ideas will not always fit- modern people in cities do not want to live like austere peasants and so there is a clash, as with gay marriage.
    Much of modernism is so antithetic to older values, because from our vantage point at the beginning of a new century we can look back and laugh at the old puritanisms, without understanding that these may have themselves signified resistance or at least provided the means by which an older harsher time might have been endured and survived.
    What to do now. I know, go read Feuerbach…


    • Jennifer Wilson December 4, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      i confess myself flummoxed at the media’s apparent collusion with the opposition. I mean where was the demand for accountability at Joe Hockey’s fraudulent figures and use of discredited professionals? The ALP is subjected to unrelenting scrutiny, and I know they’re in government, but even so.

      On the face of it it seems the opposition to same-sex marriage is coming largely from the religious right. Joe de Bruyn is thick with the ACL. Some “working people” I know found themselves confronted when their first son married an Aboriginal woman, and their second came out as gay. It was a huge learning curve for the dad far more than the mum, but everybody’s OK with everything now. The dad was far more uncomfortable with the gay son. That wasn’t anything to do with religion, as they aren’t, but ingrained homophobia as was evidenced in some of the really awful jokes he got into telling while he went through the process of coming to terms with his defiant family! Knowing their story and the trials everybody went through, I love to see that family on festive occasions: the gay son and his lover, and grandchildren who look very much like their mother being carted around in grandad’s arms. It’s a reminder of how human beings can grow if they have to, instead of being allowed to indulge and wallow in their prejudices, as governments seem determined to allow those opposed to onshore processing, for example.


  8. paul walter December 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Same in America.
    Obama’s election, itself the long-delayed sequel to the cheating of Gore by Bush, should have finally moved America forward, no illusions left as to the Establishment and its actual role and goals in world politics. Yet, with the aid of the media, the Tparty ended up selling the idea that Obama’s half measure bailout was a socialist plot despite the evidence that the bailout was at least as much about rescuing Wall St as the rescuing of the ordinary people or real victims losing their jobs and homes.
    If keeping in power involves the idiotisation of the public, we know from past history that the Bolts Jones, Limbaughs and Miranda Devines, at the instigation of figures like Murdoch and Koch Bros, will gladly keep the wider public a seething, ignorant and fearful mess, even if it means that they remain tormented by the night terrors and demons of homophobia, mysoginy ( and bloke hating, in some cases ) racism, ethnic and class fear and conflict and religous superstitions.


  9. zerograv1 April 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Well this is a very old thread but I thought it worthy to alert noplaceforsheep readers to this breakthrough, especially from a jurisdiction with such a conservative history on this issue…..


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