The day the Federal ALP decided not to overturn the ACT’s civil “not as good as marriage, we promise” same-sex relationship register law (provided it was watered down even more), the Senate Inquiry into the Greens’ Marriage Equality Bill has given its answer: No. No, we are going to continue to discriminate against gay people in the area of marriage, for no reason whatsoever.
To understand how they reached this unbelievable conclusion, you should first understand the make up of the committee. There were three ALP Senators, two Liberal Senators and one Green. The three ALP Senators and one Liberal Senator recommended:
- That there be a national relationships register (separate and unequal);
- That DFAT issue certificates of non-impediment to marriage to same sex couples as well, so that it doesn’t stop couples marrying overseas; but we won’t recognise their marriages here;
- That the Bill be rejected and inequality in marriage retained.
Even that wasn’t nasty enough for Guy Barnett, who opposed both 1 and 2.
The Green Senator obviously stood for equality and simply recommended that the bill be passed. She also asked the major parties to allow their members a conscience vote on the issue. (They won’t.)
So, ignoring Barnett, who’s a bigot, and Ludlum, who’s the only person on the committee who believes in equality, how did the inquiry reach its conclusion that discrimination should be retained?
Well, they received 28,000 submissions – 11,000 for, 17,000 against. That was a powerful reminder to the ALP candidates that organised religious groups would work hard to defeat them if they didn’t continue to impose their prejudice on gay people. The proponents of the Bill had reason; the opponents had numbers. And organisation. There were more than 9,000 versions of the following stupidity:
To Whom it May concern,
I wholeheartedly and passionately oppose the Marriage Equality Bill 2009 because it would completely change the meaning marriage has had throughout history and have such a detrimental effect. Children need both a mum and a dad in the safety of a marriage relationship and to change the meaning of marriage is to damage this safety.
Why do people think they can change the meanings of words? Do I now say to you that ‘house’ doesn’t mean a place with walls and a roof where you live, it is now a 4 wheeled vehicle with a pillow in the back for sleeping. NO, you’d vehemently object to such a change in definition and that is the case with my feelings and the new marriage bill.
PLEASE do not change the way we view marriage, it should not change as people change – meanings need to stay absolute.
Apart from possibly eventually having to update her 1847 dictionary, Michelle apparently couldn’t actually explain what “detrimental effect” gay marriage would have, or how children “needing both a mum and a dad” has anything to do with marriage, in a world filled with single parent and divorced families. But that doesn’t matter! She’d done what her church told her to do. She’d expressed her bigotry as if it were some kind of principle!
9,000 versions of that same form letter. Another 3,000 of one very similar, simply declaring that This Definition Must Not Change. That’s what hit the Senators. It didn’t matter that the fundamental argument of the letter made no sense whatsoever, much less raised objections which could even plausibly be contrasted with the real rights of the people this legislation directly affects.
Pity their job trying to think of some vaguely plausible reasons for pandering to that mob. This is what they came up with:
- Lots of people are passionate about the issue.
- We’ve asked the commonwealth to review relationship recognition arrangements, isn’t that enough like “equality” for you?
- And we’ve asked that the commonwealth not put bureaucratic hurdles in the way of gay people wanting to marry overseas – we’re bending over backwards for you people!
- The current definition is “a clear and well-recognised legal term which should be preserved”, although we are not going to give a single reason why that trumps all the strong arguments against it.
That’s seriously it. You want the last part quoted verbatim? This is, in its entirety, how the committee justified rejecting the bill:
While the committee agrees that the current definition of ‘marriage’ in the Marriage Act 1961 is appropriate, other types of relationships play an important part in Australian society and deserve recognition. For this reason, the committee’s recommendation not to alter the definition of marriage should not be taken as a lack of support for same-sex couples. However, the committee considers that the current definition is a clear and well-recognised legal term which should be preserved. The committee recommends that the Bill not be passed.
Months of investigation, thousands of submissions, and they’re dismissed with a simple “the current definition is a clear and well-recognised legal term which should be preserved”. WHY?!
Patricia Crossin (who ironically gave a speech last week praising the Sex Discrimination Act and saying, about that anti-discrimination legislation, “It is hard to imagine that it could have ever caused controversy, yet it did” – sadly, the parallel seems to have escaped her), David Feeney, Mary Jo Fisher, Gavin Marshall – you are embarrassments to your country. You only look humane compared with Guy Barnett, who has exposed himself as a completely bigoted twit.
One again, the Greens demonstrate that they’re the only party standing up for human rights in this parliament. Which is disappointing, because there’s only five of them.
What to do? Well, obviously this isn’t the end of the fight. There will be no end to the fight until gay people have achieved the equality they so patently deserve. But the sooner it’s done, the better.
The rallies around the country on Saturday are even more critical than ever. The above is a temporary setback, but that’s all it is – the tide of history is on our side. Equality is important. Ending discrimination is important. I’ll be there, because we need to be counted on this until the damned injustice is fixed; I hope you will be, too.
ELSEWHERE: Steve “if the ALP doesn’t stuff up again and preference me, this is my last year of being a Senator” Fielding makes even more of an arse of himself than usual, likening gay marriage to incest.