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Abbott caught between a rock and a hard place on marriage equality

One of the more illuminating aspects of Abbott’s predictable reaction to the co party sponsored legislation on same-sex marriage is that it highlights just how conservative the Coalition has become. And it’s not only on this issue. They have adopted many of the base instincts of American Republicanism and its nutty offshoot, The Tea Party. They are now so far to the right that they are in danger, if they go any further, of falling of the flat earth they believe in. To illustrate just how out of touch they are with public opinion on the issue consider this:

82 (three quarters) of Government members oppose marriage equality, 18 are for it and 23 are undecided.

Abbott’s response to the Private Members Bill was dismissive and swift saying that there were more important issues and it was low priority. He had, it seems, forgotten that he had promised a party room debate if such a bill was presented.

He says Private Members Bills are unusual and rarely acted on yet produced 9 himself when in opposition.

Reading between the lines of the Prime Minister’s statements it seems, despite the promise, he is prepared to delay it for as long as he can.

And this from Government Whip Andrew Nikolic who heads the committee that decides on what legislation comes before the Parliament: MPs who expect a vote on same-sex marriage any time soon must have rocks in their head”.

They are treating this issue the same they treat climate change. They confess belief and concern but every decision they make is contrary to the professed concern which in truth, means they really are deniers.

With same-sex marriage they say it is an issue, but a minor one, and set about doing everything possible to prevent it happening which in reality displays homophobic religious bigotry.

Anthony Albanese probably summed up the Prime Minister and his Government with this gem of a comment on television:

“They are stuck in the past and they want everyone to go back there and keep them company”.

I have written at length on this subject in my piece Gay Marriage and Why I Support It. In it I covered the history of marriage, the conflict with religion and the current status of gay marriage. The religious influence I also covered in The Future of Faith in Australia.

In this piece I address the issue as it stands now.

Eric Abetz, the man who lives on weird street, as if to confirm a reputation for conservative homophobic negativity writes an article in which on many levels he draws conclusions and makes assumptions that are blatantly wrong.

But firstly let me put the issue in perspective. It has moved on from being a debate about people of the same-sex being able to marry, in the conventional sense, to that of one about equality. I fail to see, given that love has no gender, why two people regardless of gender should not be availed of the same opportunity.

On the issue of love

There are males in my life whom I can say I really love because their goodness transcends self, and manifests itself in empathy towards others. To love someone of the same-sex is as normal as loving someone of the opposite sex. This is because love has many faces and surpasses gender. Indeed love is when there is an irresistible urge for the need of the affection of another and the irresistibility is of its nature mutual. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Bible references

2 Samuel 1:26 – I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

1 Samuel 18:3 – Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1 – And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

It’s the same as loving our children. We don’t love one more or less than the other. We just love them differently.

Now back to the Senator. He seems to want to protect an institution that he considers the complete domain of the church (which it isn’t) without admitting that because in Australia 50% of marriages fail, it is a failed one. If the Senator could for a minute take his head out of the dark religious cloud of bigotry it is trapped in he might just see that by allowing gays to marry the institution might just regain its legitimacy.

The public support for the proposal is overwhelming. 400 companies have signed a letter of support. Major sporting bodies including the AFL and the NRL have also.

He berates the media for focusing on an issue of little importance and instead reckons it should give prominence to some tiny island in the pacific that has rejected gay marriage.

He is ably supported by Andrew Robb who in response to a question about the Coalition’s attitude to the co-sponsored Private Members Bill on same sex marriage said:

“None of the millions of families out there who are concerned about their jobs and paying the bills will thank us for being preoccupied for weeks and weeks with this issue”.

Conveniently, it seems, forgetting the inconvenient truth that some of those families might – in fact, wait, definitely do – including same-sex couples.

And to think he negotiated three international trade deals!

The good Senator also suggests that we should be following Asia which thus far doesn’t condone gay marriage. So I take it that it’s fine to follow America into war (as we do) but not marriage equality.

Then he suggests that decisions that could “dramatically transform society” should be determined by the people.

In doing so he ignores opinion polls that over a long period have favored gay marriage. 72% by Morgan over 60% by Essential. Other polls show that 76% of Coalition members support a conscience vote. 53% of Christians are in favor.

He also says that Marriage has “always existed just for one man and one woman”!

This is of course is simply not true. It was once polygamous, love had nothing to do with it. Men married pre-pubescent girls. It was one the domain of the church but is now the states responsibility.

It has changed dramatically over the years: there’s far fewer child brides these days, interracial couples can get married and it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way on divorce.

Then, like others of his ilk, Abetz raises the issue of children saying they need both a mother and a father. Again he ignores the fact that a stable upbringing between two adults of the same-sex is far better than being raised by two separated ones continuously in conflict. There are ample studies that show folk of the same- make excellent parents.

If the Senator could produce evidence to the contrary he should.

Here are two links that say there is no evidence that same-sex couples aren’t capable of raising happy and healthy children.

Australian Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

He further says that The Coalition is here to protect the institution of marriage, “just as we did at the last election”!

So he and the government of which he is a senior member has no compunction in breaking promises at will and changing their mind when it suits them to politically do so.

It’s just that on this issue it seems it cannot align itself with public thinking.

This Government may indeed have an inherent hatred of pensioners, asylum seekers, the poor, Muslims, Aborigines, students in public education, unionists, the unemployed, those on welfare, the ABC, equality opportunity, but they reserve a special kind of religious hatred for people of the same sex who have the audacity to seek to have their love confirmed in marriage.

In delaying the passage of the bill the Prime Minister is placing himself between a rock and a hard place thus ensuring the issue will be front and centre at the next election.

If he rejects it he will be seen as grossly out of touch with the electorate. If he allows a conscience vote he will alienate his own supporter base. If he allows it to fester it will become an election issue. Blocking what is inevitable, inevitably leads to defeat.

“The world is full of love unspoken that dares not speak its name”.

gay marriage



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  1. jel31886

    Excellent article based on reason and commonsense………I hope that Abbott and co. Maintain their current dinosaur view of same sex marraige so that it becomes just another nail in the coffin of this arrogant, “born to rule”, faux government.

  2. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    If 72%, or thereabouts, of the population support gay marriage and Tony Abbott is PM of a government who says the issue is not important, then he is clearly NOT taking notice of what the people want. So why would they re-elect him?

  3. Graeme Henchel

    “It has moved on from being a debate about people of the same-sex being able to marry, in the conventional sense, to that of one about equality.”

    I think it is rapidly moving beyond the actual issue of marriage equality. It is moving to nature of this Government and it’s out of touch Neo-conservative/religious rump. Abbott is completely out of touch with the zeitgeist around marriage equality and climate change, his economic performance is deplorable and his multi flag terrorism scare campaign has been over wrought to the point of mockery. The “public” has made up their mind on marriage equality and all the debate in the world won’t change the trend. If anything with the type of contributions Abtez , Joyce et al are making the pro ME support can only increase as their ridiculous arguments are exposed for the homophobic humbug they are. The public are now asking why aren’t these politicians representing the will of the people. Who do they think they are?

    There are a thousand reasons for wanting the removal of this kakistocracy it would indeed be ironic if the issue of marriage equality and climate change inaction were significant factors in their demise.

  4. kerri

    Good article John!
    The thing that strikes me about the conservatives attitude to marriage equality is that they seem completely unable to grasp the notion of marriage for love? Their obsession is with the sex aspect of marriage! They quote ridiculous notions of polyamoury and bestiality (both of which I am sure happen with or without Government sanction) and focus on child conception rather than the loving of one’s children. And why too, do so many people on either side of the debate continue to focus on child raising from a two parent perspective? Many famous people will happilly tell of being raised by a single parent, male or female, and what a wonderful job that single parent did! Children of single parents often speak of the love with which they were raised over and above whether they had role models of either sex! You have hit the nail on the head as many marriages in old age or some form of disability or other impediment survive on love without sex and without children.
    Their focus is all wrong and negative and as usual focusses on fear and loathing!

  5. Ann McGavin

    Lets hope he keeps putting it off. We need to get rid of this idiot and his idiot mob ASAP

  6. Rebecca

    well said Ann,Kerri And John

  7. gangey1959

    Is Asia going to stop usind Australia as their sandpit if we legalise Gay Marriage? Yeah yeah sure Ted. They will leave their money on the fridge and all.
    If tony ‘King Canute’ abbot wants to hold back the tide, let him drown.

  8. Geraldine

    Abbott wears a black bomber jacket, the same as President heroes, yet their country now supports SAME SEX MARRIAGE!!
    Shows Abbott isn’t really a BOMBER, just a bummer.

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