fraidy cats

Is Australia PM Julia Gillard Fighting Gay Marriage Because She’s Scared of the Church?

Australia’s former Labor Party leader Mark Latham, who’s spent the last five years (usually appropriately) attacking his former political colleagues, says the only reason he backed a ban on same-sex marriages in 2004 is because he didn’t want to face the wrath of priests. Might Julia Gillard, the sitting prime minister, and her cabinet of quislings be doing the same?

Activists there are demanding, likely without any expectation of results, Gillard — seen here with her boyfriend Tim Mathieson — own up to the root of her support of the marriage ban. “Many people find it hard to believe Julia Gillard personally opposes same-sex marriages, so now that Mark Latham has let the cat out of the bag we want Julia Gillard to come clean on whether it is religious prejudice which is standing in the way of our legal equality and civil rights,” says Australian Marriage Equality National Secretary Peter Furness.

That comes after Latham telling a radio show, “I regret the fact that in 2004 I didn’t tell the churches to go get nicked and Labor had a policy of allowing gay marriages. Most people who are reasonable about it recognise that love is the important thing. If two people love each other, no matter their gender and their background, that’s the thing that should define a good marriage, and society should respect that. Unfortunately parties are scared of the churches. If you’re running for office, you don’t want some parish priest denouncing you from the pulpit on Sunday before the election…. It’s that power of the churches that holds it back.”

Sometimes I forget how many similarities American heads of state have with the people whose toilet water flushes in reverse.

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  • FYI

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi


    Mahatma Gandhi on Homosexuality

    Two gay Englishmen came to Gandhi in the 1930s and asked him what he thought of their relationship. The Mahatma asked some questions and for a short time fell silent. Then he said, “The greatest gift God gives us is another person to love.” Placing the hands of each man in the other’s, he quietly and with a smile asked, “Who are we to question God’s choice?”

  • Chris

    There was a great part in Q and A tonight (australian political talk show) where a vietnam veteran got up and said he was proud of his gay son and asked Tony Abbot (opposition leader) why he thought gays don’t deserve the same rights. It was fantastic.

  • Steve

    Wow. I didn’t think Australia was so backwards regarding religion.

  • Robert in NYC

    Steve, the largest “christian” cult in Australia is the roman variety, that’s why.

  • Queer Supremacist

    The romanists collaborated with Hitler. It’s par for the course from them.

  • Paschal

    @Robert in NYC: Most Australians aren’t even nominally Catholic.

    @Queer Supremacist: Bastards collaborated with Hitler. A number were Catholic. Catholics also saved Jews. Not every Catholic agrees with the Pope. I was raised Catholic so I know how Catholics work. We should work with those Catholics who support us and try to convince those who don’t.

  • Zakalwe

    The right wing of the Labor party is pretty much all Catholics, and they’re the ones in control at the moment.

  • Nick Farben

    First, be prepared. This is a long but hopefully enlightening post on the mess & gem that is Aussie politics. (Gay significance at the end.)

    Australian elections has a unique practice called “Priority Voting”, not commonly used anywhere else. Instead of voting for one party candidate, you rank them in the order you want them to win. Each round the candidate with the lowest votes will be eliminated and the next choice candidate will get the points until a candidate has 50% of the votes. It can take many rounds of eliminations to resolve (ala American Idol).

    Neither of the 2 big parties (Liberal & Labor) can be assured 50% in round 1, so getting a second-choice vote can be crucial. What this means is that politicians want to appeal to a wide range of people. For instance, you might be left-leaning, but you may campaign as a moderate. That way right-leaning people who won’t vote you as their first choice might at least vote for you as their second or third choice.

    This problem with this system is that it causes the 2 big parties spew an unprecedented level of rhetoric to keep themselves vaguely appealing to as many people as possible. The benefit of this system is that people are more likely to take a chance on smaller political parties since it is not an all-or-nothing vote.

    So how do you sift through the bullshit of the big 2 parties, you may ask? There is a tell, and its in a political manoeuvre called “trading preferences”. This happens when 2 parties make alliances to convince their supporters to vote for them as a first choice and their allied party as second choice. These alliances don’t come easy and a lot of backdoor promises are pledged between parties before they agree to help each other.

    This leads to the gay significance. The overwhelmingly pro-gay party in Australia is The Green Party. It is led by the very intelligent senator Bob Brown, who was the first openly gay member in the Senate. The Greens may not be the big-2, but they are a force nonetheless. They command more than 20% of the votes in the 2 biggest inner-city seats, Sydney and Melbourne, and 9% of the votes nationally. Trading preferences with them is often the difference between winning and losing and both Liberal and Labor will curry their favour. The Greens can be picky and will have a list of secret demands usually relating to the environment, refugee-rights and gay-rights.

    This election, The Greens have traded preferences with Labor (led by Julia Gillard), which reveals to us that even though Labor has vaguely denied being pro-gay marriage, they have no doubt promised The Greens something completely different, probably promising a timeline if the Greens can rally enough support from the public. This prevents Labor from having to champion the motion in the senate, and the embarrassment of defeat if it doesn’t pass. But if they sense that they could win the motion with the Green senators, their vote may change overnight.

    Can anyone be sure of what secret promises have been made? No. But can we speculate where the party’s actually heart lies even if their words betray them, yes.

    On a side note: Family First (white-bred family-value touting right-wing party) simply HATE The Greens and Labor, which is a good sign; and The Australian Sex Party, a new party that despite the shock-value name, actually have really good opinions and are obviously pro-gay, could win a seat in the senate. GO SEX PARTY!

  • galore

    And now she lost 4% of the vote to the green party and can’t rule without them. Ha ha ha ha ha. Who does she think are those 4%?!

  • John (CA)

    Neither of them can rule effectively without the Greens. Australia has a unique hybrid political system that’s neither entirely Westminster nor Washington.

    While the Greens’ impact on the House of Representatives is limited (i.e. they have no say in who gets to be Prime Minister), they have picked up 4 seats in the Senate in addition to the 5 they already have. This gives them 9 senators out of 76 total. They now control the balance of power in the Senate. Unlike in most commonwealth countries, the Australian Senate isn’t the usual “pushover” type of upper house that has no real power. As is the case in the United States, senators in Australia can pretty much block anything they want. Which means whoever ends up being Prime Minister will have to deal with the Greens to pass legislation.

    And given how awful both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are, this hung parliament business is probably the best possible outcome.

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