Today has surely been the marriage equality campaign’s most frustrating day yet.
Over 275,000 people made submissions to the House of Representatives committee looking into the issue – the largest amount of feedback received in the history of federal parliamentary committees.
Now the results have been revealed. We see that 64% were in favour of the law change.
Despite this, the committee completely failed to come up with any firm recommendation on the issue – only noting that “we were moved by the passion and intensity of the contributions made by members of the public and organisations… both sides of the debate value marriage and family.” And, slightly more helpfully: “de facto relationships and civil unions do not equate to marriage and do not provide equality.”
Its wishy-washy conclusion: “In considering social change and the shape of Australia’s future, the Parliament must both lead the nation and appreciate the values of a modern nation.”
Here’s two very different examples of submissions that thousands of Australians from all walks of life sent in…
In favour of marriage equality:
I was raised in a Mormon (LDS) family and for a long time I believed I had the blueprint for life, happiness and could speak to the rules god had laid out for us. I came to realise that no one has a right to control another’s life so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. Beyond that I realised how self righteous I was to think I was better than someone else just because I happen to love to opposite sex.
I’ve since formed amazing friendships with LGTBI people and those connections will last for life. I’ve met some of the most loving, sincere people who are now considered part of my family. They raise families and their children deserve the same rights as other kids – to have their parents marry if they want to and to know they are recognised as a family unit.
I believe that permitting same sex marriage in Australia will cause more harm than good. Giving 4000 gay couples in Australia happiness by allowing this bill to pass, does not outweigh the outrage that the religious and independent belief organisations will have. I myself believe that gay couples should be allowed to get married, but from a utilitarian point of view, this would cause more harm than good. P.S I am 15 years old.
Meanwhile, NSW Labor MP Stephen Jones’ Bill which would legalise same-sex marriages is set to be debated soon, and with several MP’s in Labor’s ‘right-wing faction’ indicating they’ll vote ‘no’, defeat seems a sure bet.
Among those against marriage equality in the Labor Party is Hunter Valley MP Joel Fitzgibbon, who confirmed on the ABC yesterday: “I’m against same sex marriage. I don’t have strong views about it. I was proud to be part of a government that removed discrimination from all government legislation, bar arguably the Marriage Act.
“But my real concern is that my electorate is not ready for this,” he added. “I think if people who are so determined to push these things through are prepared to wait ten more years or so they might face a different electorate. But I do have people particularly elderly married people in my electorate who can become quite traumatised by the prospect of liberalising the Marriage Act.”
Waiting ten more years? Surely not… but maybe at least a few more months. A second Bill, brought forward by Greens MP Adam Bandt, will now be delayed until later in the year in the hopes that momentum and pressure builds to the point where we can be more hopeful of a law-changing result.
Despite the setbacks, the marriage equality campaign continues apace. Today a website highlighting the support of one thousand Australian doctors was launched – see Doctors 4 Equality here.
And below, Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says it’s time for Australia to embrace marriage equality – and calls for Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to “get out of the way.”
June 7th, 2012