Labor’s Plebiscite Shame

Labor’s Plebiscite Shame

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If a debate about gay marriage is so tortuous for us, wouldn’t delaying it’s legalization, and letting the ugly, unregulated, debate rage on for another three years be the worst possible thing you can do to gay people?

The Labor party is lying to the gay community about marriage.

For the most seasoned political street fighter, anything is fair game. The Labor party, have, like Christian missionaries in an obscure pacific island, appointed themselves the saviours and protectors of the gay community.

Thanks, but no thanks.

The other day, for example, I was told that public discussion on gay marriage would drive me to suicide. I was informed that Anthony Albanese somehow understood my plight, being raised by a single parent in an intolerant era (whoever wrote the weepy article in the SMH alleging this was obviously not aware that Malcolm Turnbull was also raised by a single parent). Shorten interrupted a kindly Anglican vicar to say that criticism of gay marriage has “no place” in Australian discourse, comparing him to “haters under rocks”.

The bottom line being that the labor party had six years in which gay marriage enjoyed strong public support and yet repeatedly decline to legalise it, not only because they were beholden to the low church conservatives on the right of their party, but because the party leadership repeatedly stated their genuinely held belief that homosexual relationships did not deserve full legal standing. Kevin Rudd only began to adopt gay marriage in his party platform when it became apparent that he was going to lose the election. Julia Gillard deserves the dishonour of promoting the first actively discriminatory legislation against gays, which would have allowed religious organisations to be exempt for anti-discrimination laws, effectively permitting them to hire and fire people on the grounds of sexuality.

This may sound like I’m harking back to a bygone era, but all of this still matters because Shorten and Plibersek were active in both these government. To turn around and paint themselves as somehow protecting me on the ground of their conscience, means that either they have flip-flopped on this issue in line with electoral benefit, or that their beliefs were not strong enough to warrant a change in their party’s platform when they could have actually affected change.

But despite their soaring and at times cringe-worthy rhetoric, the Labor party’s leadership continues to maintain this line. Labor are blocking the plebiscite bill. The result of this will be that gays and their families will be denied equality before the law until Labor is elected. Given the internal politics of the liberal caucuses, they are refusing to legalise gay marriage by the only politically credible means. To maintain this anti-gay stance whilst being seen as progressive, they are deflecting our attention by co-opting the ugly and serious issues of suicide and depression in the gay community.

It’s really quite extraordinary.

It’s also illogical, given that it assumes that people who endure the most inappropriate and intrusive scrutiny of their private lives on a daily basis from friends, family, strangers, and politicians are somehow going to kill themselves the moment there is a public debate specifically relating to a plebiscite. Further, if a debate about gay marriage is so tortuous for us, wouldn’t delaying it’s legalization, and letting the ugly, unregulated, debate rage on for another three years be the worst possible thing you can do to gay people?

What all of this suggests is that Bill Shorten, despite his best efforts at emotion, is still the same old politician. In fact, a politician far worse than we thought, given that he is willing to allow a harmful debate to drag on, delay legal standing for gay couples, expunge his own questionable record on gay rights, and appropriate our experiences as a distraction tactic, all so that he can see a marriage equality bill with his name on it. All things considered, this sounds rather revolting.

I might even holler that I am offended.

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