Gillard policy #1: continuing to discriminate against gays and lesbians

So, no progress there:

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show this morning.

“We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

Why? For what conceivable reason? Gillard has announced that she doesn’t believe in any religion, so she can’t even defer to “An Ancient Book Told Me That’s What God Says”. So how on Earth does she justify her government treating gay and lesbian people as second-class citizens?

Strike one.


It might be okay for Iceland’s PM, but not for ours. (Gillard realises that she wouldn’t have to get gay married herself, right?)

Seriously, Julia, you could be gone in a few months. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something positive you could look back on and of which you could be proud? Being the first female PM doesn’t actually make anyone’s life better, doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just a position. But being the first PM who stood up to centuries of bigotry and oppression, who said “we will no longer discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality” and actually made it so – that would be something for the history books.

Pity you’re not woman enough to do it.

ELSEWHERE: A European Court rules that there’s “no right to gay marriage”, on some spectacularly specious reasoning (essentially, most governments in our region don’t want it yet, so, you know, stiff); and Google attempts to counter discrimination against gay employees by paying them the amount they’re being ripped off by the state.

And Doug Pollard from JoyFM points out what Gillard could’ve done, if she wanted to be cowardly but wasn’t a complete bigot:

When asked if she supported same-s-x marriage on Kyle & Jackie O, she could have said something to the effect that this was presently the party’s policy, and as leader she was bound by party policy, but that she was open to revisiting the issue in the future…

It would not have made any difference to the party’s stance, but it would have held out an olive branch to the GBLTI community, who had been repulsed by Rudd’s constant pandering to extremist religious elements in his own party and the wider electorate.

But instead of embracing the gay vote — which is more than willing to hug a feisty unmarried female PM back — she decided to chuck it away.

Let’s hope those who believe in equality take note of what kind of a PM we now have.

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44 responses to “Gillard policy #1: continuing to discriminate against gays and lesbians

  1. I’m hoping that it’s a stance that won’t survive the next election. To support it at the moment (and it is currently against ALP policy to do so) might become to big and elephant in the room.

    You are right: Gillard has NO reason not to support it. Rudd could be at least be excused by his belief in fairies (whoops, I mean the flying spaghetti monster).

  2. At the moment part of her problem is that she doesn’t seem to stand for anything. At least she’d have gone out fighting for a principle.

  3. pongotwistleton

    I agree with DD on this: hopefully it is just pragmatism on JG’s part which changes after the election. I’d rather she didn’t ‘go out fighting’ just yet, better she fights for a full three year term rather than three months.

    She wouldn’t be able to get my vote back from the Greens between now and the election anyway. And she’s still not quite as bad as Abbott.

  4. Splatterbottom

    Gillard is just the new lipstick on the ALP pig. The change in leadership represents a change in appearances rather than a change in policy. The faction leaders formed the view that she is a better marketer and executed Rudd. Maybe Abbott needs some red hair – he could be Hedwig in a red wig (or maybe he is just Tommy Speck).

  5. Yeh, slightly surprising and disappointing that…

  6. confessions

    Why? For what conceivable reason?

    Because she’s a puppet PM! As I said on the other Gillard thread, she’s more bot-like than Rudd. At least Rudd had vision and passion. Gillard is just doing a NSW: being a small target and playing it safe, hoping the electorate will be hoodwinked come election day.

  7. I think she’s standing, first & foremost, for not letting Abbott and his Liberals wind back the clock and return us to the Howard years. She said so. But if you’d rather we have Abbott as PM then let’s all push hard to get Julia to change her mind on what is hardly the pressing issue of the day. The electorate would really warm to her then.

  8. That’s garbage. She doesn’t need to throw gay people under the bus to defeat Abbott, and even if she did, it’s still wrong to do so.

    It’s only “not a pressing issue” if you don’t mind the government discriminating against people so long as it’s not you.

    PS “The electorate” supports marriage equality, according to recent polling.

  9. Which part is “garbage”, Jeremy, the part about what she’s standing for (to keep Abbott out) or the part about it not being a pressing issue? It’s just too risky for her.

  10. Oh, moderation, again. Why is it that every time I express an alternative view here I get put on moderation? Hardly free speech, Jeremy.

  11. Get over yourself, Ray. I didn’t put you on moderation: WordPress does it randomly. Ask anyone else.

    How is it “risky” to rectify an obviously unjust and discriminatory bit of legislation when a majority of Australians support the change? And that’s ignoring for a second that IT’S THE PRINCIPLE. Just what else would you accept her doing if it helped her win the election? Any other groups we should be discriminating against because it’ll appeal to the bigot vote? Apart from refugees, obviously.

  12. (You must have some weird settings then, Jeremy. WordPress doesn’t do it randomly for me and most other people with WP blogs)

    It’s risky because, even though surveys suggest there is not widespread opposition to it, it’s not at the top of the voters’ list of priorities and if she makes those undertakings so early in her PMship (and before the election) she risks losing support and being seen as someone focused on the main game.

    I mean nothing more than that about it – this is not a comment about the issue itself.

    Gay marriage is not something that’s going to get Gillard over the line. One thing is for sure though – Abott would never cop gay marriage. So let’s not brand people bigots and “garbage” talkers just yet, eh?

  13. That should be: as someone “not” focused on the main game.

  14. Splatterbottom

    Getting rid of Abbott is only an incident of ALP hanging on to power, rather than the main game. Otherwise the ALP would be working with the Greens, not against them. Stinking hypocrisy anyone?

    The defect in a party putting power as the first priority is that they become poll-driven and their policies become secondary to their spin. Gillard is just a new spin merchant.

  15. If I understood that I would respond to it more fully. It seems to me that “getting rid of Abbott” and the ALP “hanging on to power” are one in the same thing. I think it was Gough Whitlam who put it best. He said something like: “The first responsibility in politics is to gain power. Because without it you can’t do anything.”

  16. But if you don’t do anything, what’s the point of being in power? If you can only stay in power by stomping on minorities, why should anyone support you?

    Sorry, I don’t buy that the ends necessarily justifies the means. Gillard doesn’t even have the “I’m religious” excuse for discriminating against gay people. It’s a clear demonstration that she is unprincipled.

  17. So, you & SB are at one here?

  18. confessions

    There is still a question mark for me over whether legislating for same sex marriage is as simple as changing the Marriage Act. I remember when Howard made the amendments to specify Man/Woman stuff, there were several editorials at the time saying he was dog whistling, because of some relationship between the MA and the Constitution.

    I’ve read about this issue in other forums where commenters are adamant that a referendum would need to be held to allow same sex marriage. I’ve even seen Antony Green commenting as a Constitution junkie agreeing with this view.

    I wish we could get some kind of legal confirmation one way or the other, because it does seem fruitless to be lobbying the government to change the MA if instead they need to go to a referendum. And if it did, odds on the issue would be defeated.

  19. confessions

    because of some relationship between the MA and the Constitution.

    Should read because of some relationship between MA and constitution which meant Howard’s definitional amendments were worthless.

  20. Why would they need to go to a referendum?

    Marriage is either a Commonwealth power or it isn’t.

    If it is (which seems pretty clear, and is the underpinning of the present discriminatory Marriage Act), then the Commonwealth has the power to legislate on the subject.

    If it isn’t, then the Marriage Act as it stands is invalid and it’s up to the states.

    If someone really wants to run that challenge, they can apply to the High Court. I think they’ll lose.

    In neither case is a referendum required.

    Ray – you appear to have ignored all the points raised in my comment.

  21. confessions

    If someone really wants to run that challenge, they can apply to the High Court.

    So if a same sex couple wanting to marry challenged the current laws in the High Court, and won, then what?

    Do we look to native title as a precedent here, where the High Court ruled on native title, and then the fed govt ushered it into law?

  22. You wouldn’t challenge on the basis that the High Court didn’t have the power, unless the state governments were vastly better than the Commonwealth (which they’re not).

    According to others who’ve looked into this there is very little basis for a High Court challenge against marriage discrimination.

    For example, appealing to the court on the basis of –

    a) Australia’s international obligations, would run foul of the negative UNHRC’s decision in Joslin v New Zealand

    b) the gender neutral marriage power in the Constitution, would risk that power being interpreted according to “original intent”, blocking marriage equality for decades

    c) freedom of religion, would fall outside the court’s narrow interpretation of what that freedom entails.

    In essence:

    a) the Sex Discrimination Act doesn’t override other legislation

    b) the international treaties upon which the SDA is based have not been interpreted to allow same-sex marriage and would not trump Joslin anyway

    If Gillard removed the discrimination, and the High Court then struck that down because bigots successfully argued that it’s not what was originally meant as “marriage” in 1901, then we’d need a referendum. Or the States could enact it themselves.

  23. Ray – you appear to have ignored all the points raised in my comment.

    Okay:

    But if you don’t do anything, what’s the point of being in power?

    Who said she won’t do anything? The point is she will (obviously) do things. Whether it’s what you want her to do re gay marriage remains to be seen. I think she’d go through a pretty wide public canvassing of the issue first though, before changing her mind.

    If you can only stay in power by stomping on minorities, why should anyone support you?

    She has not “stomped” on anyone (except Rudd). I think people should support her because she represents the better alternative.

    Sorry, I don’t buy that the ends necessarily justifies the means.

    She hasn’t used the issue as a “means”. She was asked a direct question – she gave a direct answer.

    Gillard doesn’t even have the “I’m religious” excuse for discriminating against gay people. It’s a clear demonstration that she is unprincipled.

    Well, here’s where I get to say that’s “garbage”. If she’s used that excuse then yes, I would agree that she’s unprincipled – because religion has no place in political decision. Again, she has not discriminated – she’s holding the status quo for now. And I think you’ll find that the more savvy gay leaders will realise they’re better off waiting until after the election to start lobbying her (quietly).

  24. confessions

    Ok (I think). This legal stuff does my fracking head in!

    So same sex couples today can’t use legal avenues to appeal against discriminatory legislation in an attempt to override the current laws? Is that because they’d have to go straight to the High Court rather than through other systems?

  25. There’s nothing about human rights in our constitution. (The main point of our constitution is dividing power between the Commonwealth and states, and setting up how the parliament will be made up/elected.) If you were trying to apply international treaties to which we’re signatories to override parliament’s laws, you’d fall afoul of the precedent above.

    Ray – it is unprincipled. She knows perfectly well that the present system discrimiantes against gays. Either she believes that’s necessary and just – in which case you’d have to ask her why? – or she knows it isn’t and just doesn’t care. She’s either a bigot, or she’s unprincipled. There’s no third option that explains her decision on the issue.

  26. She’s either a bigot, or she’s unprincipled

    That’s a very harsh judgement, and one that I think those at the forefront of gay rights (which you are obviously not) would be mortified by.

  27. Apart from being sanctimoniously offended on her behalf, explain a third possibility.

    She either genuinely thinks gays deserve to be second-class citizens and treated as such by the law (hence “bigot”) or she knows it’s wrong and doesn’t care (hence “unprincipled”).

    You don’t have a response to that other than to decry me being so blunt about it.

  28. doublegoodbye

    Wow, you really have a knack for creating a false dichotomy there.

    How about, she knows it is wrong, but realises pushing it now will do nothing to move it forward, and could in fact move it backwards?

    Yep pragmatism sucks!

  29. I think you’re rushing to judgement and being too gung-ho about the whole issue, Jeremy. We’re not seeing a big outcry about it in the gay community so maybe some cooler heads than yours are prevailing and are taking the pragmatic approach of let’s get over the election first and then we’ll worry about making representations (you know, thoughtful and respectful ones) to the Prime Minister.

  30. “How about, she knows it is wrong, but realises pushing it now will do nothing to move it forward, and could in fact move it backwards? “

    Explain to me how full equality in the legislation could “move it backwards”.

    “We’re not seeing a big outcry about it in the gay community “

    I’m not sure what you’re basing that on, but if it were true I imagine they’re so used to being disappointed by major party politicians many of them have given up. When people are oppressed and discriminated against, many internalise it as a way of coping. You can’t rage against the system every day without going mad.

    But it’s still very, very wrong. The moral equivalent of prohibiting mixed-race marriages in the US South fifty years ago. And unless the new Prime Minister genuinely thinks gay people deserve to be discriminated against, she’s selling out principle in pursuit of power.

    Which isn’t what I look for in my representatives, anyway.

    (Iain Hall made some further fatuous and abusive comments to this post which I’m not approving. He’s revived some of his creepy old campaigns this week, and now he’s trying to tell me how moderation works on this blog. He can get stuffed.)

    PS For those who don’t regularly read this blog and are unaware of the moderation system: because trolls were impersonating other commenters, I had to choose fairly strict moderation settings that in practice seems to pretty much moderate everyone. I do not moderate people for just disagreeing with me. I do moderate trolls who rely on personal attacks and obsessives who’ve demonstrated a complete inability to restrain themselves to civil debate.

  31. confessions

    I do have some sympathy for where Ray is coming from, and agree with him on this point: legalising same sex marriage will require bipartisan support. Despite polling and so on showing majority community support, this is still a divisive issue. Without support across the political spectrum, I can well imagine the merry hell the Liberals (aided by the Big Religion) will make at the expense of gay people. They’ve done it in the past on native title – despicable, hateful lies – and I well imagine they’d be up for it with gay people.

    I’ve often said the best chance we had for legalising same sex marriage was when Turnbull was opposition leader. Unfortunately, at the time I hadn’t realised just how much the Liberal party was in the clutches of the rightard crowd. I now think we will have to wait until either these people are purged from their party, or Labor’s 2nd or 3rd term in office. Most likely the latter.

  32. Nup. Not buying it. This is a fundamental issue of unjustified discrimination, and it should end, now. If the Liberal Party wants to out themselves as outrageous bigots in 2010, then they can do that and be judged by history for it. Wimping out, as the ALP keeps doing, gets the Liberal Party off the hook, too.

    There’s no “what about if we keep discriminating for a little bit longer” about it – it’s wrong, it’s unnecessary, and it isn’t even democratic: far more people in the electorate support marriage equality than just Greens voters, but they’re the only party representing them in parliament.

    There’s no reason gay or lesbian people should accept their second-class status a second longer. It’s up to the MPs to fix this ridiculous situation – any MP who voted against the Greens’ marriage equality bill, any Prime Minister who could introduce legislation to fix the issue tomorrow but doesn’t, deserves to be treated with the contempt we now reserve for those who voted against, say, giving suffrage to indigenous Australians.

  33. confessions

    In many respects you are right. Keating got native title legislation through parliament despite coalition objection, because he had a mandate from the High Court, and because he knew it was the right thing to do. He certainly was a better leader than anything we get today.

    But the fact remains: these types of social reforms are best having bipartisanship otherwise we have a situation where one side of politics legislates for something, and the other mob rescind it, or make regressive changes when they get into office. Like the Libs did with native title, and are promising to do with asylum seekers.

  34. doublegoodbye

    *Hopefully wordpress.com has fixed my display name from doublegoodbye now*

    The basic point I was trying to make about going backwards was that I think anything that increases the chances of the coalition being elected will set this issue backwards.

    Even though polling may show support, that doesn’t mean opponents wont be able to whip up a fervor over this which costs the ALP votes and possibly the election.

  35. I think that would backfire for them. Remember, small l Liberals – small government types – have no problem with equality for gays, and in fact some of their apologists claim that they stand for government out of the bedroom. If you want to play politics on it, then you might find that this is an issue that could split the Liberals somewhat.

    Which is by the bye – the issue is that discriminating against people on the grounds of gender is wrong, that’s what the legislation presently does, and any party that’s okay with that deserves to lose.

  36. Doublegoodbye – lets say you’re right, and Gillard is holding back because of electoral concerns.

    How will that change after the election? Will she be able to magically remedy the electoral danger of legislating gay marriage, or will the same excuse for inaction be trotted out?

  37. doublegoodbye

    Mondo – Its a fair question for sure. I am certainly not convinced anything would change after the election.

    I think a full electoral term would give it more of a chance than making a stand now right on the eve of the election, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath for the change.

    The whole point I was trying to make, was that there *are* electoral realities around issues which are contentious, and right or wrong making a stand now comes with an element of risk that a newly positioned PM is unlikely to take.

    I just don’t understand why people who are so passionate about an issue like this have to always throw any notion of pragmatism out the door. *The* most important thing from my perspective is that the injustice is corrected. If as a leader I thought I had more chance of fixing the injustice by raising the issue after being elected, why would I not do that?

    Again, I am under no illusions that the ALP actually thinks this. More realistically they probably believe their current stance really isn’t costing them any significant numbers of votes, and changing their stance could cost them.

  38. doublegoodbye

    BTW my wordpress display name of Chris Mayer just doesn’t seem to want to display and I have no idea why the URL for me is linking through to where it is.

  39. what happens on the third strike.. does Gillard’s coach turn into a pumpkin?

  40. “During a chance second encounter in Baltimore in 1945, Henry Schalizki, 88, and Bob Davis, 89, met and fell in love. More than six decades later, the couple finally legalized their union.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/24/AR2010062406743.html

    So glad they were able to finally get married. Just as well they don’t live in this glbt backwater when it comes to marriage equality..

  41. Blast Tyrant

    I think the people that believe the Gillard will backflip on same sex marriage once the election is over are being very naive.

    This isn’t a reform that either of the big two parties are just going to hand out. When it happens in Australia it will be because of pressure from below, and that pressure just isn’t strong enough just yet.

  42. Pingback: Strike Four – the filter « An Onymous Lefty

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