On the subject of Penny Wong and her I don’t believe in marriage equality either remarks, it’s important to be fair. The fact that she’s gay herself doesn’t make her support for discrimination any worse than that of any other MP. All MPs who failed to vote for the Greens’ marriage equality bill last year (which is all of them except the Greens) deserve to lose the support of every fair-minded Australian.
Let’s be clear: there is no rational justification for the government to discriminate against gay and lesbian Australians. Not one. There is not a single logical argument in favour of the present indefensibly discriminatory legislation. Marriage as regulated by government should not be subject to religion – which is why we have civil marriage in this country. It is an enduring mark of shame for our nation that in the second decade of the twenty first century, even after many countries around the world have enacted equality (without losing elections), all our government could manage was lame legislative tinkering around the edges.
But there are two points about Penny in particular. First, like every other MP or public figure who’s made a point of going on the record arguing against equality – not just voting with the party, but specifically advocating for discrimination to continue – she deserves criticism. If she was too gutless to stand up for principle, she could’ve just said “the party has a clear position on that subject”. Or nothing.
And, secondly, how can an openly gay person not understand just how serious it is for gay Australians to be treated as second class citizens? She can’t even rely on the ignorance (I don’t know enough gay people to realise they’re just like the rest of us) or religious (my God says it’s wrong) explanations – there’s simply no explanation in her case other than cowardice. She’s also someone the Labor Party put up as a reason for gay and lesbian Australians to vote for them, on the “hey we’ve made one of you a Minister” line – so you can understand why they feel particularly betrayed by her.
That said, every MP who voted against marriage equality in 2010 deserves our contempt. Penny’s just one of many.
PS: Another reason to have contempt for Ms Wong is her shameless shouting down of Christine Milne on Q&A last night.
ELSEWHERE: George Washington explains why it’s vital to all of us that we give “to bigotry no sanction”.
UPDATE: News Ltd’s Samantha Maiden chimes in with this lame attack on those criticising Wong, on the basis that two of the betrayed and angry gay and lesbian people resorted to somewhat racist gibes against her ON THE INTERNET. She snidely dismisses Bob Brown saying he’s “horrified” by Wong’s advocacy against equality as being “sanctimonious” – apparently the News Ltd put-down for “principled”.
And she approvingly (“the only one making any sense”) quotes Graham Richardson’s lame defence of Wong on Q&A, which was basically “hey, you don’t know what she’s done for you behind the scenes!” Well, Richo, whatever that is, it’s no excuse for standing for discrimination in public, and voting against it in Parliament.