Angels at rest

2014 Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia: Same-sex Marriage in Australia.

May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and you can learn more about that here: http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/ In the meantime, the Hop is going on and there are loads of interesting posts, the masterlist of which you can find here: http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com

I have contemplated for a while what I would discuss for this year's Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. With the political climate here in Australia being, shall we say, turbulent. However, it was clarified for me that what I would discuss would be the current government's stance on same-sex marriage.
Hop
This is a topic that—in the hallowed halls of Parliament—is a hot button issue. The Labor Party, who are currently the Opposition, are for same-sex marriage and for a conscious vote within caucus. The Liberal National Coalition (LNP from this point on) are less inclined. Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong, a long-time Labor MP, is out and proud, and she and her partner have just celebrated the arrival of their baby daughter… but they cannot be legally married in this country.

It is easy to say that this is due to homophobia within the ranks of the current LNP government. That may, perhaps, be part of it; I can't say either way. What I can say, though, is that it's a topic that our current Prime Minister has dismissed as being "the fashion of the moment." [1] He has also said, "There is no doubt that (homosexuality) challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things," [2] and when asked in an interview for 60 Minutes how he feels about homosexuality, Mr. Abbott replied, "I'd probably I feel a bit threatened." [3]

In October 2013, Mr. Abbott said that while he would attend his gay sister's wedding, but that he couldn't support gay marriage, because, "'I am a traditionalist on this,' he said.
"'From time immemorial in every culture that's been known, marriage, or that kind of solemnized relationship, has been between a man and a woman.'" [4]

This all came to a head when the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) where the national and state capital city, Canberra, is and where federal parliament sits, passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The ACT was the first state or territory in Australia to do this and there was a nationwide hope that this was the first step in the entire nation passing similar bills.

Not so. A challenge to the bill was made in the High Court by the LNP Federal Government. The High Court does not make policy, but interprets the law, and it has ruled that only Federal Parliament has the power to make marriage laws. Therefore, by that ruling, the ACT bill to allow same-sex marriage, could not operate concurrently to the law currently in effect, which is the Marriage Act, amended by former Prime Minister John Howard in 2004 to stipulate that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.

While some LNP MPs support same-sex marriage and would support an amendment to the Marriage Act, it is becoming very clear that the Prime Minister does not consider this an important issue that needs to be addressed. So those couples who celebrated their weddings in the ACT in that brief period that they were allowed to be married, had their happiness dashed by the ruling of the High Court, which only interpreted the laws, and dashed further by the LNP government's refusal to reconsider.

Many couples are looking forward with a positive attitude and their stories are heartwarming and give hope for the future. The Australian Greens and many Labor MPs are determined to bring same-sex marriage legislation to the table in Parliament again. The full document (and some of the lovely stories—and not so lovely attitudes from bystanders) can be read here. (NB: Warning—may contain material that could be considered triggering for some.)

And so we come to New Zealand. A year ago, in April 2013, the law was passed allowing same-sex marriages to take place and be celebrated and legally recognized as lawful marriages. There was a great deal of joy and jubilation. The bill that was passed in New Zealand defined marriage as a union between two people rather than between a man and a woman. The figures in the year since the passing of this bill are very interesting.

"Figures released by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs show that from August 19, 2013, when the law became operational, to March 31, 2014, there was a total of 385 female couples and 285 male couples.

"Of these, nearly a third of the couples were Australian citizens." [5]

This illustrates so clearly why the marriage laws here in Australia need to be changed and why the Marriage Act needs to be amended. It also illustrates how unequal the treatment of same-sex couples is here and that there needs to be additional amendments to make same-sex marriages performed overseas legally recognized as being marriages here in Australia, just as marriages between a man and a woman are. At the end of April, 2014, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young of the Australian Greens plans to bring a bill before the parliament to at least recognize those marriages performed overseas as being legal here in Australia. I, for one, hope it passes.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abbott and those who agree with him, have not discussed the issue since the ACT bill was struck down and repealed. That is, until a group of high school students in Year Nine (ages 14-15) from Newtown, New South Wales, on a field trip to Canberra, had a surprise visit from the PM. I rather suspect that Mr. Abbott got a LOT more than he bargained for with these awesome, brilliant kids.

Those teachers and parents should be damn proud of those kids, as indeed, are the majority of Australians. Not only did they ask Mr. Abbott tough questions about asylum seekers, why the Minister for Women (Mr. Abbott himself holds this portfolio as well as being Prime Minister) is a man, but they asked him repeatedly about same-sex marriage.

Happily, one of the students filmed it and it is on YouTube for all to see. I share with you now the video of a group of high school kids asking the Australian Prime Minister tough questions and his fumbling and bumbling for answers.




References:
1. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/14/tony-abbott-gay-marriage-fashion
2. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/tony-abbott-gay-remarks-dangerous/story-e6frf7jo-1225838436495
3. http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1020354
4. http://www.news.com.au/national/prime-minister-tony-abbott-says-he-will-attend-sisters-wedding-but-not-support-the-marriage/story-fncynjr2-1226745544432
5. http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/a-year-on-one-third-of-nz-gay-marriages-are-of-aussie-couples-13623.html



Further Reading:
http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/viewpoint/tony-at-the-wedding-12281.html
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-quick-to-kill-samesex-marriage-20131214-2zdvq.html
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-12/high-court-decision-on-act-same-sex-marriage-laws/5152168
http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/viewpoint/what-a-croc-12170.html
http://www.samesame.com.au/news/10688/Student-asks-Abbott-Why-are-you-so-against-legalising-gay-marriage

Notes:
All emphasis are my own, not the original author's.








As part of the Hop, I am giving two lucky readers an eBook copy each of The Wind-up Forest and The Crystal Lake. Leave a comment to go in the drawing to win one of these bundles!

The Wind-up Forest: Archangels Book Four.
Blurb: Archangel Gabriel is hoping for a quiet period in his life to enjoy his relationship with Archangel Michael, but someone has other ideas.

New dangers arise when the Holy Grail is stolen. Gabriel, Michael, and the rest of the Brotherhood of Archangels and their allies must somehow thwart the twisted desires of the thief.

Their search for the Grail takes them all over the world, calling on old friends like Uriel and Raziel, and forging powerful new alliances. Though they face a fresh set of perils in pursuit of the thief, the enduring comfort Gabriel needs so much, that of his beloved Michael, never abandons him.

The Crystal Lake: Archangels Book Five.

Blurb: The thief of the Grail has been identified and the Brotherhood of Archangels is moving to counter her evil machinations. But as demons flock to the side of the thief and betray Hell, monsters are enslaved and shifters and an angel turn traitor. The love between Gabriel and Michael is tested as they join the rest of the Brotherhood on the trail of Naamah. Danger makes strange bedfellows in the form of Lucifer, the Archdemons, and Lilith.

A traitor lurks among the angels and humans, and the Venatores are discovering vital new information. Lovers Liam, a Necromancer, and Baxter, a shifter working for Michael's Venatores unit, must face not just the living but the dead. Archangels Raziel and Uriel contend with demands on Raziel's power that wear him to the brink of exhaustion. The Brotherhood will need all their strength to prevail against the threats surrounding them.

Your post rocks! Thanks for the info on the Australian progress (or lack there of!). It just seems ridiculous that a "western" country like Australia hasn't accepted same-sex marriage. They always seem so leading in other matters. Needless to say, Mr. Abbott is a self righteous idiot. So what if homosexuality makes him "uncomfortable"? It's not like he's being forced to marry a man. Talk about people who can't see beyond their own noses.

Thanks for taking part in the hop :)

Erica Pike
eripike at gmail dot com
Thank you!

Yeah, our PM is not exactly a man of the people--the first budget came down this week and it was *bad*. For everyone except the very rich. So things will be tough here for a while, I think.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)
very interesting commentary on our Aussie politics!!
this series sounds interesting
please count me in

leetee2007@hotmail.com
Wonderful post. Thanks for the giveaway. :)
nomoretears00 @ hotmail.com
Interesting post. I don't pay much attention to politics outside my own home country but it's always heartening to see the strides other people are making for equal rights.

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com
Thanks for participating in the hop. You are right. We all need to speak up more! It's an important topic for me since my son is transgender. I would defend to the death anyone who hurts him.
My pleasure. :) And that simple fact of defending your son makes you a terrific mum. We all need to stand together.
I enjoy reading about what progress is being made in different countries. Thanks for the insight.

penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com
Those kids were awesome, but that video contained much more of Tony Abbott's crotch than I have ever wanted to see...
Wow - i hope your parliament gets itself together on this. I was lucky enough to have a say in my state passing a marriage equality bill so all marriages are legal here. Thanks for participating in this fabulous HOP!

Cinders1964@hotmail.com
Well, I don't think the current one will, so we'll have to wait a while until an election. Here's hoping the next election will bring in a more moderate and humane government!
Very interesting post, as I didn't know what was going on in Australia. Thanks and thanks for the chance to win. caddyauthor(at)gmail(dot)com
It's no secret that I despise Tony Abbot, like most Australian's do. He didn't give that young girl any answer at all and fobbed her off as quickly as possible. Great post, LJ.
I thought Australia would be a very forward thinking country and I am surprised that they don't have same sex marriages lets hope they can get the law changed sooner rather than later.

ShirleyAnn@speakman40.freeserve.co.uk
Let's put it this way--the people of Australia are forward thinking and compassionate. The current government is the complete opposite. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Loved the video. Those students are brilliant, and that should give Australians hope for the future. In my country, initially there was resistance against same-sex marriages as well. Once the law was passed, in 2001, the resistance fizzled out, and most people now accept that everyone has the right to marry.
Thank you for your post.
They really do--those kids were terrific.

I hope the same thing happens here, but the current federal government is equivalent to the far right elements within the Tea Party, so, I don't see much changing here until our next federal election in 3 years.
Your post is insightful and informative thanks for the giveaway. rojoroaors@yahoo.com .