“Gay or straight, couples are couples”: that’s the message the Australian Government is sending same-sex couples who may face reduced benefits when their recognition as defacto partners kicks in on June 30th.
But if “couples are couples”, as the Government loudly insists, why won’t it allow same-sex couples to marry?
In the lead up to the Labor Party’s mid-year National Conference the Party’s policy committee has published a draft party platform which continues to oppose not only same-sex marriage, but civil union schemes which dare “mimic” marriage.
This is despite the draft platform declaring a few pages earlier that Labor has:
…always stood for equality. Throughout our party’s history successive Labor governments have sought to achieve this by helping people overcome disadvantages based on social class, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, cultural background and racial prejudice. We have always pursued the fair go, tolerance and respect. We oppose all attempts to divide Australians by pandering to prejudice.
Labor’s policy against same-sex marriage is nothing new. It was adopted at the last National Conference to eliminate same-sex marriage as a 2007 federal election wedge.
Like Rudd’s social gospel, Labor’s opposition to same-sex marriage was about poaching religious and socially-conservative voters looking for an alternative to Howard.
In short, it is about nothing but “pandering to prejudice”.
What’s changed in the short time since Labor’s last conference is just about everything but the policy.
Overseas, more and more courts and parliaments are embracing equality in marriage.
A fortnight ago Sweden joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa and Canada in allowing same-sex marriages.
The very next day the Supreme Court of stodgy, conservative Iowa brought the number of US states that recognise same-sex marriages to three, challenging Australians to ask, if Iowa, why not us?
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