Government and Opposition continue the charade over same-sex marriage plebiscite

The Age reports that “Same-sex couples could be left waiting until the 2020s to get married if Labor blocks the plebiscite proposed for February next year, Attorney-General George Brandis says.

It’ll be three weeks before the Labor Party makes a decision on whether to hold a same sex marriage plebiscite, drawing fire from opponents.

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In a blunt warning to the federal opposition, which is all but certain to oppose the national vote, Senator Brandis suggested the political will to change the law could dissipate if the plebiscite is not held in this term of parliament and same-sex couples could be forced to wait well beyond the next election, due in 2019.”

This whole story situation represents a series of failures in a democracy.

The first failure in the same-sex marriage shemozzle belongs to Abbott; rather than letting MPs do their job and vote on legislation, the former prime minister – egged on by the conservative wing of his party – proposed an expensive plebiscite to resolve the matter.

The second failure was Malcolm Turnbull’s; rather than junking the plebiscite proposal – one he argued against while communications minister – Turnbull acquiesced to the demands of party conservatives and retained it as part of the deal struck to install him as Prime Minister.

But the third failure, now unfolding, belongs to Bill Shorten and members of the same-sex marriage lobby like Rodney Croome who used to support a plebiscite but now oppose it.

Today’s editorial in The Age makes some obvious points

  •  According to pollsters, as many as seven in 10 citizens have long wanted our lawmakers to do their job and bring Australia in line on this with the rest of the Englishspeaking world.    
  • The leaders of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens all support marriage equality.    
  • The voters of all but one electorate want their political representatives to make the change.    Australians – whose collective support for ending this injustice has long-been recorded – would be forced to vote, but their decision would not be binding on lawmakers.    
  • The plebiscite – effectively an unnecessary opinion poll – would cost taxpayers perhaps more than $200 million, a waste rendered even more stupid in light of our fiscal challenges.    
  • The plebiscite could cause untold harm to same-sex couples and their families, and could be a trigger for self-harm and even worse for young LGBTI people, who, research shows, suffer heightened rates of mental ill-health because of the bullying and harassment they are subjected to because of their sexuality.    
  • There is already evidence that opponents of marriage equality will use misinformation and propaganda, even to the point of targeting children, and emotions could cloud reason on both sides of the debate.    
  • The plebiscite – designed to delay and derail marriage equality – was always a cheap ruse by Tony Abbott to shore up support from the hardline conservative fringe in his party in the dying moments of his prime ministership.

 

 

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