Warren Entsch is a legend, Tony Abbott is still a twat, and Marriage Equality stalls in Australia yet again

Posted by Tara G on

Last Monday, Liberal National Party backbencher Warren Entsch introduced a private members bill to the Australian House of Representatives which is basically just a big-fat-fucking-useless waste of paper thanks to Tony Abbott, Australia's current Prime Minister, being his usual dickish self.

The ‘Bill for an Act to Amend the Law Related to Marriage and for Related Purposes’ is a cross-party bill, and one Abbott wanted earlier in the year. However, a recently enforced ban on a free vote for Government MP’s has ensured that the bill likely won’t make it to a second reading, and certainly not a vote, further delaying any traction on Marriage Equality in 2015.

The justification? “I think it’s absolutely clear that there are two different issues here. One is the rights and dignity of people regardless of their sexuality and the other is whether we want to move down the track of same-sex marriage and I think they’re two different issues," said Abbott yesterday (Sydney local time) in a radio interview with 2UE, a week after the introduction of the bill.

Yes, that old fucking chestnut.

And no Tony, they're not really.

Entsch made a passionate plea as the bill was introduced, emphasizing that it was “designed to promote an inclusive Australia, not a divided one.” Unfortunately, not even a logical argument will get you anywhere in politics these days as the socially conservative, Abbott-led coalition continues to be out of touch with the majority of Australians. As Entsch points out, "A divided nation is what we will be if we continue to allow discrimination in relation to marriage on the basis of a person's sexuality.”

In short, Warren is legend.

I think we might send him some Bobo Academy t-shirts.

He could totally rock them.

Source: Cairns Post


Source: Cairns Post

Or my absolute favourite, because ole' Wazza proved that he's a true North Queenslander and chilled with a croc (It's there! It's just hiding!):

Source: The Betoota Advocate

Okay, that croc might actually be a paper weight.

And we have also proven that I should never be allowed anywhere near Photoshop.

However, moving on:

Internal pressure is continuing to grow in Australia as impatience amongst Marriage Equality advocates over government stalling is reaching its peak, particularly in light of Ireland’s referendum result in May and the United States Supreme Court decision on July 9. If a country with a predominantly Catholic constituency, followed by a nation with a proven inability to separate Church and State can manage it, then it beggars belief that the home of the Sydney Mardi Gras, and responsible for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is still trailing behind.

I think it’s safe to say that the general consensus in Australia is that the blame can be laid solely at the feet of incumbent Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who also stated in yesterday's radio interview that "It's okay to be gay," after the Australian public and international community were assured of the opposite for his entire term as Prime Minister.

Last Monday, opposition Labour MP Terri Butler, who seconded Entsch’s bill, was quick to point out that Abbott’s determination to block Marriage Equality at this point is nothing more than a “desperate attempt to save his own job,” and that he is “doing everything he can to hold on as leader of his deeply divided party.”

Butler went on to say, “The Parliament should have an opportunity to vote on the bill — there should be an opportunity for the Liberal Party moderates, who have been treated so poorly within the Coalition, to support this bill in public.”

And she’s right.

Yet, rather than put the issue to bed here and now, the government has introduced its own bill with the aim of holding a costly plebiscite on the issue of Marriage Equality after the 2016 election. Which is in about a year. Abbott has now pledged to accept the verdict of a plebiscite, if held. However, we are all stunningly aware of how he goes about keeping election promises, so I think most of us can be forgiven for being underwhelmed by this statement. The plebiscite on the other hand will likely prove to be a handy smoke screen for the current Coalition, ensuring the entire country is too distracted during the run up to the public opinion vote on Marriage Equality to focus on other election-relevant issues such as the flailing economy, horrendous climate change policy and the fact that their Prime Minister is a twat.

However, we can all hope that by the time post-Election 2016 rolls around Australia will have learned its lesson, and Abbott will have been demoted to the status of most ridiculed and despised ex-leader in Australian political history. A feat which would have admittedly been quite the challenge to achieve before this current electoral term.

All internal political wrangling aside, it's fair to say that the Liberal-led coalition's stance on Marriage Equality is fucking archaic; and the free vote ban and plebiscite bill is a dick move. 

I was quite positive I wasn't alone in my thinking, so I spoke with an actual Australian citizen to get some confirmation about the thoughts and feelings on the ground right now.

Norrie - professional bubble distributor, well known Sydney-based political activist and first individual in Australia to be legally recognized as gender ‘non-specific’ - was kind enough to lend me an opinion on Tony Abbott and the impact of his pervasive conservative values.

Source: Hipster Pictures

"I can't see how Tony Abbott can claim to champion family values when he won't allow his own sister to marry,” Norrie said as we had a rapid fire conversation over Facebook.

The sister Norrie is referring to (for those of you who are less versed in Australian politics) is Sydney Liberal councilor and lesbian, Christine Forster. Forster has long been vocal in the fight to change the established Marriage Act and is currently engaged to partner Virginia Edwards. On ABC TV’s panel show Q&A in early June, said she “respectfully disagreed” with her brother on the issue of marriage equality.

Source: christineforster.com.au

Following the Coalition party’s 66 to 33 decision to ban a free vote on the issue of Marriage Equality (a.k.a. Entsch's bill), Abbott’s sister was one of the first to criticize the decision. “Obviously for me, as a Liberal, it also goes to the core of my values as a Liberal, which is that, you know, human beings should be equal before the law,” she said.

I would pay actual cash money to be a fly on the wall at an Abbott family dinner and find out how far and for how long that “respectfully” actually stretches.

If it was my brother I’d probably take a piss in his beer.

Alongside going against basic Liberal values, the government’s stance against marriage equality in Australia simply goes against basic human rights. During our conversation, Norrie went on to point out that “Marriage inequality is also a major block for transgender and other sex or gender diverse people and their families, and it's a shame Tony won't do the right thing by his transgender mate Cate McGregor,” – McGregor is the highest ranking transgender individual in the Australian Defense Force – “let alone the millions of Australians dealt poorly by his stance against equality. He not only guarantees a poor record of his conduct in history, but more of the tragic outcomes of discrimination particularly for sex, sexuality or gender diverse young people.”

Abbott's stance is obviously extremely unpopular in the queer community of Australia, as you can well imagine. Local activist groups such as Sydney's CAAH (Community Action Against Homophobia) have a long history of advocating for Marriage Equality. CAAH was responsible for the first rally for Marriage Equality in Sydney over a decade ago in 2004, and is still very much active today:

Source: Facebook

It's important to note, however, that distaste for this stance is not just isolated to the LGBTQIA+ community.

It's 2015.

Polling suggests that the majority of Australians support a shift to Marriage Equality for gay, lesbian and all other variations of same-sex couples.

So, why are millions of Australian taxpayer dollars going to be wasted on a public vote?

The Australian government should be doing what is in the best interests of all of its citizens, right now. Why are same-sex couples being forced to wait another year to get other people's opinions on how they, as private citizens, choose to conduct their private lives? At the end of the day, that's what this vote will come down to. It won't be about the protection of the sanctity of marriage, but a poll about who likes and doesn't like the idea of gay and lesbian couples leading functional, legally recognizable, everyday lives with kids and shit; in public.

A marriage certificate in the 21st century is no longer primarily about fulfilling religious, social or moral obligations for most. At its very core it is a legally binding, state recognized contract that bonds two people, their families and their assets together. The gender or sexual orientation of the two individuals who choose to do so should be irrelevant. The government, and the racist, misogynistic, conservative asshole that might so happen to live next door to you should have absolutely zero say in whom you choose to enter that contract with.

Those who start banging on about Civil Unions as the current, perfectly acceptable alternative to marriage need a slap. We should not, nor should we have ever required, in any nation, two separate documents to achieve the same purpose. The idea of people having to seek an alternative document simply because of the gender of their partner is legislative segregation and establishes the dangerous idea of same-sex couples as a secondary class to heterosexual ones.

The refusal of the Australian government to move forward on the issue of Marriage Equality for at least another year is appalling, especially when neighbouring New Zealand celebrated the second anniversary of the enactment of the 'Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Act, 2013' on August 19, two days following Entsch's submission to the Australian House of Representatives.

At present, New Zealand and Australian citizens have freedom of movement and residency between the two countries, and yet same-sex couples are recognized as legally married on only one side of the Australasian pond. It's absurd.

The continued delay of same-sex access to marriage as we all recognize it has the trickle down effect of placing heterosexual couples on the pedestal of "normal", whilst same-sex couples are relegated to the "abnormal". The continuation of this stance, as Norrie pointed out in the quote earlier, has a knock-on effect for all other gender and sexual identities, ensuring the continued existence of a second class citizenry.

This needs to end now. Not next month, and certainly not next year.

The Australian Coalition government should have no place in legislating the personal preferences, bedroom habits, and above all love of its citizens.

No government should.

Just over two years ago, Maurice Williamson, New Zealand National Party MP spoke to parliament as the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Act, 2013 passed its third and final reading. To those still opposed to Marriage Equality, I think he put it in perspective:

"All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage."

"We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I can’t see what’s wrong with that for love nor money. So I just cannot, I cannot understand why someone would be opposed. I understand why people don’t like what it is that others do, that’s fine. We are all in that category. But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guaranteed promise. The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything, your mortgage will not grow, you will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed. The world will just carry on."


Conservative Australia, take note.

 


 

Tara G is a jack-of-all-trades history graduate with a New Zealand accent. She has a penchant for beer, wandering and incessantly talking. 50% of the Bobo Academy BlogSquad. Currently based in Kyoto, Japan.
You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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    Alison Hamilton on
  • I’m embarrassed to be Australian :(

    Greg on

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