THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
IF IT'S A YES ON WEDNESDAY, THE PM MUST BRING HIS WHOLE PARTY TO THE WEDDING
The ridiculous, expensive, and hurtful postal survey was dreamt up by the opponents of marriage equality to delay or defeat change.
So as ‘no’ supporters face the very real prospect of a ‘yes’ vote, it’s no surprise those opponents of marriage equality have adopted a new set of blocking tactics.
They have shifted focus to doing everything possible to slow down or stop the passage of marriage equality legislation in the Parliament.
Earlier this year, after a detailed inquiry, a Senate committee agreed on draft marriage equality legislation. It was backed by Labor, the Liberals, the Nationals, the Nick Xenophon Team, and the Greens. A historic consensus.
This consensus legislation is very simple.
Firstly, it allows same-sex couple to marry.
Secondly, it protects religious freedom by allowing clergy (and a new category of ‘religious celebrants’) to choose who they will and will not marry.
It isn’t complicated. But the right-wing rump of the Liberal Party, and their ilk, will try to make it so.
They know they’re losing this battle, but won’t give up waging their war against equality.
Just as they did during the postal survey campaign, they will do their best to muddy the waters. We must not let them.
In the coming weeks, they will seek to make the debate about anything other than marriage equality.
They will say it’s about religious freedom, even though the consensus legislation makes it clear clergy (and a new category of ‘religious celebrants’) will not be obliged to marry anyone they don’t want to.
They will say it’s about free speech, or sex education, despite it having nothing to do with either.
They will make it about everything other than the simple proposition that two people who love each other should be able to get married, and be equal before the law.
Malcolm Turnbull should never have caved in to the anti-marriage equality bullies in his own Party and allowed this postal survey nonsense in the first place. A child could tell you that if you give in to a bully once, they’ll come back for more. That’s exactly what’s happening now.
If the ‘yes’ case prevails on Wednesday, as I hope it will, the consensus legislation, based on the consensus report of the cross-party Senate Committee, is the clear path forward. Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews et al - the very people who argued the people needed to have a say - should respect the people’s verdict, and get out of the way.
We must not allow them to frustrate the speedy passage of the consensus legislation.
We owe it to the LGBTI Australians, their families and friends, who’ve suffered so much hurt because of the postal survey, to get this done now. We can have marriage equality by Christmas if the consensus bill is agreed to.
We owe it to those people who, for decades, have marched in the streets, who’ve been beaten and arrested, who’ve lost their jobs, in the fight for equal rights.
And we owe it to those people who’ve waited for what seems a lifetime to marry the person they love.
No more delays, no more excuses. It’s time to make marriage equality law.
This piece was originally published in The Huffington Post on Monday, 13 November 2017