In Australia, the 40th anniversary of the New York street protests which gave birth to the contemporary gay rights movement passed almost unnoticed.
While millions marched in North America and Europe to commemorate a turning point in global social history, the thoughts of most Australians didn’t get gayer than Bruno on Rove.
This means neither that Australians are more antagonistic to gay equality, nor that we are more accepting. It just means winter isn’t the time to parade outdoors in skimpy clothes.
But winter is an excellent time to reflect on who we are and where we’re headed.
The question most commonly prompted by Stonewall is: how far has the gay movement come, and how far has it yet to go? Usually, the answer has more to do with the politics of the person answering the question than objective reality.
But Australia is at such a clear-cut moment in its gay history, that we can provide something approaching a definitive answer.
Last year the Rudd Government, with the support of a majority of Coalition MPs, extended the definition of de facto partner to include same-sex partners across all those many federal laws offering spousal rights and responsibilities, including those dealing with parenting and family.
The parallel recognition of same-sex de factos had already occurred in every state and territory. It had been advocated federally for 15 years but was long-delayed by the indifference of John Howard.
In short, last year’s reform was the definitive end of a long-term movement for practical benefits and entitlements.
But as is so often the case, every movement for reform contains within it the seeds of what will come next.
The one federal law not amended by the Rudd Government was the Marriage Act.
Both major parties continue to vehemently oppose equality in marriage for same-sex partners.
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