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Australia: Marriage Equality Updates

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Sydney, AustraliaWith a new Prime Minister and upcoming elections, the marriage equality news is flying fast and furious in Australia.

First off, there’s a reports that former PM Julua Gillard may have considered supporting marriage equality during her tenure. Pink News reports:

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) alleges that prior to being ousted as the country’s leader, Ms Gillard had considered reversing her opposition to equal marriage…. with Ms Gillard increasingly at odds with her Labor Party on the issue, and the party’s plunging support among Australian voters, SBS reports Labor sources as suggesting that she believed there was no longer any point in upholding opposition to the reform. Nevertheless, Ms Gillard left office in June 2013 remaining opposed to marriage equality – and despite SBS’ revelations – there has been no public change in the former PM’s position.

Profiles in lack of courage.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, says her brother is conflicted about her vote against the bill last year. ABC News reports:

Tony Abbott’s sister has revealed that the Opposition Leader felt “conflicted” about voting in Parliament against marriage equality last year. Speaking on the ABC’s triple j Hack program, Christine Forster, who is gay, said her brother’s view that marriage is only between a man and a woman is slowly “shifting”. “There’s been a significant shift in how he approaches this whole question,” she said.

The Guardian reports that things are still stuck in neutral – for now – in Australia on the marriage equality front:

Whether the rhetoric is one of conscience or consistency, the promise of marriage equality is precariously wedged within our current political landscape. While Rudd has insisted on bringing a marriage equality bill to parliament if he is reelected, it will undoubtedly fail without support from the Coalition. Conversely, if Abbott assumes office, such a bill would likely be dismissed as a political distraction.

Same Same reports that some Labour MP’s are afraid to publicly declare support for marriage equality:

Today the Same Same team rang around the Labor MPs who were either not present or abstained from voting on the reform last time a marriage equality bill was voted down. We can now confirm that three of them are now privately in favour of the reform. Several others had not changed their view, but some spoke candidly to us about their personal support for changing the Marriage Act. “If I was in another electorate, I would support it.” A few MPs in marginal seats, who did not want to be named publicly, say they have so far felt forced to adopt a public silence on the issue, in fear of losing key support in their electorates.

The Age reports that anti gay activists are planning a rally for Tuesday, called

…National Marriage Day on Tuesday, when hundreds of voters opposed to same-sex marriage are expected to gather across the country. National Marriage Day spokeswoman Mary-Louise Fowler told Fairfax Media that major events would be held in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, in addition to smaller rallies in regional centres such as Wagga.
Ms Fowler said many voters were not happy about the renewed attention to sex-same marriage legislation.
“Children need a mother and a father,” she said.

The rally comes ahead of marriage equality rallies planned around the country for the weekend:

Equal Love campaigners are also preparing for their own events, starting with the Rally for Marriage Equality in Melbourne on Saturday. The event, to be held at the State Library of Victoria, comes just four days after their opponents vacate the venue. A Labor campaign rally organised for Civic Square in Canberra for Tuesday this week will now double as a pro-marriage equality event, with Andrew Barr, Kate Lundy, Andrew Leigh, and Gai Brodtmann all expected to address speak, according to Labor-affiliated group It’s Time.

And finally, Australian Marriage Equality activist Rodney Croome commented on the marriage of the US Ambassador to Australia and his partner this weekend. Towleroad.com reports:

“It’s a happy time when any couple marries and I congratulate John Berry and Curtis Lee on their special day and wish them well for their married life together. Sadly, they join hundreds of other same-sex couples whose overseas same-sex marriages aren’t recognised under Australian law. It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.”

We’ll see what happens in Australia after the election.

Australia: Prime Minister Rudd Promises Marriage Equality Vote in 100 Days After Re-Election

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Australia Prime Minister Kevin RuddDuring a debate last night, Australia’s current PM promised a vote on the marriage equality bull within 100 days if he is re-elected. Gay Star News reports:

Australia’s Kevin Rudd said he would, if re-elected, introduce same-sex marriage legislation within 100 days of office. The incumbent prime minister made the commitment on a televised debate against opponent Tony Abbott, who during the debate agreed that same-sex marriage was ‘a very important issue’. ‘I know how important an issue it is, but it’s not the only important issue,’ Abbott said.

Rudd just recently declared his support for marriage equality. But will Abbot allow a conscience vote, as he has suggested previously?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Australia.

Australia: Marriage Equality Group Backs Conservative for Prime Minister

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Australia Prime Minister Kevin RuddThe group Australian Marriage Equality has decided to back Labor Party candidate Kevin Rudd for Prime Minister over Julia Gillard, after Rudd, who opposed gay marriage during his last term, reversed himself and came out in support. Gay Star News reports:

Australia’s biggest gay marriage lobby group are backing former prime minister Kevin Rudd to takeover the leadership of the Labor party and the country, ousting Julia Gillard. As campaigning for the general election on 14 September heats up, speculation is emerging about the long-running rivalry between Gillard and Rudd… National director of Australia Marriage Equality (AME) Rodney Croome said it was ‘crucial’ for legalizing gay marriage to have support from the country’s leader, as shown by recent successes in New Zealand and France.

The “liberal” Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has steadfastly refused to support marriage equality – it’s ironic that gay rights campaigners find themselves turning to a conservative to try to get marriage equality passed.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Australia.

Australia: Why Rudd Flipped on Marriage Equality; and A Personal Protest

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Sydney Opera HouseA couple more marriage equality stories out of Australia this morning. First off, Business Insider Australia says three factors changed former PM Kevin Rudd’s mind on marriage equality:

Christian teaching: Rudd talks about the tradition in Christian thinking involving “faith informed by reason”. He separates literal interpretations of Biblical dictates from universal Christian values such as “love your neighbour as yourself”. Some of the Bible’s teachings on slavery and the status of women have deservedly come to have no place in modern society, he observes, and a reasoned approach by Christian leaders has actually helped improve the social standing of groups who would otherwise be subjugated by Biblical rules. History has shown Christian ethics are open to changing with the times, so there’s room for changes of views, he concludes. This opens the door for him to consider it further.

Scientific data: Rudd cites scientific studies that show people don’t “choose” to be gay. If this is accepted, he says, then unequivocally “our brothers and sisters who happen to be gay” should be fully embraced as equal members of society. This fits with the equality principles of Christianity. He also refers to research which has shown, over decades, that outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples are no different from those raised by couples in conventional relationships.

Emerging life in Australia: Rudd is at pains to insist that childrens’ welfare should be of paramount concern, and goes back to the scientific research that shows there’s no cause for worry. He adds that among the many changes to family structures in Australia is the reality that more and more kids are being raised by same-sex parents. He notes that children in these relationships have the same legal rights as children in traditional marriage, and asks why Australia shouldn’t give children raised by same-sex parents the “emotional and practical stability” offered by civil marriage.

And in Brisbane, a gay man and a lesbian will marry Sunday to protest the country’s ban on marriage equality. Gay Star News reports:

As part of a stand against Australian laws prohibiting same-sex marriages, a gay man is planning to marry a lesbian bride at a demonstration in Brisbane. Chad St James, a student filmmaker and gay rights activist is marrying lesbian Kristan Walker this Sunday (26 May) forming what has been described as a government endorsed ‘gay’ marriage. On Facebook, the gay husband-to-be said ‘needless to say I’m all kinds of nervous and stressed’ about marrying Kristan, a fellow marriage equality activist.

Australia: Rudd’s About-Face on Marriage Equality Puts Pressure on Gillard, Other Holdouts

Monday, May 20th, 2013

SydneyJust got this from Australian Marriage Equality.

Marriage equality advocates have predicted other MPs will come out in support of marriage equality in the wake of former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd’s change of heart on the issue.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Rodney Croome, said, “Kevin Rudd is an immensely influential figure who will inspire others to support marriage equality both in parliament and across the community.”

“As one of Australia’s most prominent Christians, Mr Rudd’s message to other people of faith is that they can support marriage equality not despite their faith but because of it.”

“Already former Labor minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, has said he is open to changing his mind on the issue and I expect other MPs will follow.” (Channel 7, Sunrise program, 21.5.13)

“If Mr Rudd can evolve on marriage equality so can Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.”

Mr Croome went on to say that Mr Rudd’s decision to support marriage equality following the revelation that one of his former staffers is a gay Christian shows that those affected by reform telling their personal stories is the key to change.

“Mr Rudd’s change of heart is a reminder that marriage equality is a deeply personal issue about love, family and faith, and it is from this level that change will ultimately come.”

“I urge all supporters of marriage equality to keep telling their personal stories about why marriage equality matters.”

Green MP, Adam Bandt, has proposed a vote on his marriage equality bill on June 6th, providing Mr Rudd and others with an opportunity to vote for reform.

Australia: Former Labour PM Paul Rudd Now Supports Marriage Equality

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Sydney, AustraliaAustralia’s former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who stood in the way of marriage equality while in office, made an about-face on the issue today. Towleroad.com reports:

Australian former PM Kevin Rudd, who opposed a 2009 amendment while in office that would have paved the way for marriage equality, declared today that he has changed his mind in a lengthy post on his blog. Said Rudd, in part: “I have come to the conclusion that church and state can have different positions and practices on the question of same sex marriage. I believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognise same sex marriage. I also believe that this change should legally exempt religious institutions from any requirement to change their historic position and practice that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. For me, this change in position has come about as a result of a lot of reflection, over a long period of time, including conversations with good people grappling with deep questions of life, sexuality and faith.”

Great news – I just wish more of these guys would make this leap while in office, when they could still have an actual impact on the process.

And another former politician says the nation’s ban on marriage equality is hurting business. Gay Star News reports:

Former senator Brian Greig said that Australia’s resistance to legalizing gay marriage is preventing much-need skilled workers from immigrating there. ‘Our nation’s increasing isolation on this matter is impacting recruitment and employment mobility,’ wrote Greig in an editorial for Sydney Morning Herald. ‘By putting up a legislative wall around our island nation our parliament has created a fortress of intolerance that is repelling needed workers.’

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Australia.