What Next for Marriage Equality?

Last year, I posted my submission to the Senate Inquiry to determine if a non-binding marriage plebiscite should be held to determine if marriage equality should be allowed in Australia. The Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee reviewed all the submissions and made its report available in September 2015. While the report contained a number of observations, it also made a recommendation to the parliament of Australia:

The committee recommends that a bill to amend the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to allow for the marriage between two people regardless of their sex is introduced into the Parliament as a matter of urgency, with all parliamentarians being allowed a conscience vote.

The Coalition-led Government declined to follow the recommendation of the Committee, and decided that a plebiscite would move forward at an estimate cost of $170 million. This is because the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull – who previously fully supported marriage equality – now is beholden to his more conservative members of his party room to retain his position as leader of the government. Turnbull worked too hard to get that job for him to consider any chance of losing his title. Turnbull played a long-shot in his recent double-dissolution of parliament and lost, and now we have a Senate that is proving to be more challenging for the Government to deal with, and with the recent announcement of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) that they will oppose the bill allowing the plebiscite, it appears this particular issue is being laid to rest.

You know it’s upsetting to some coalition members, when the Attorney-General, George Brandis, is quoted as saying:

This morning the Labor party has driven a stake through the heart of marriage equality … [r]ather than working with the government to see this matter settled, Bill Shorten and Labor have chosen to play politics with the lives of gay people. Their cynical decision this morning will ensure this debate will continue for years to come.

It brings little joy to know that Brandis is championing the “rights of gay people” in his statement which is a position that has very little foundation to it given his history. Of course, as many of us who live in the USA know, this childish activity is common-place among politicians (or wanna-be politicians) who don’t get there way. It’s like the neighborhood kid who takes his bat and ball home because he didn’t like the outcome of the game: spiteful and childish.

Of course, I applaud the ALP for joining with other non-coalition Senators in taking this stance to oppose the plebiscite. While it may delay the outcome of marriage equality, it will also save the Australian people millions of dollars, and the trauma of what would be a very divisive debate that would impact the lives of so many people unnecessarily.

Learn more marriage equality in Australian here.