This Is How The Australian Federal Election Will Affect Marriage Equality
Australia, this is getting kinda embarrassing.
You know England, the country ruled by a queen who is literally NINETY years old, where everyone sits around talking about history and drinking tea?
They’ve got it.
And America? The one where 4 in 10 people believe that God created the world less than 10,000 years ago and evolution is not a thing?
They’ve got it too.
Even our bro cousins in New Zealand have gone and done it. And so have most countries in Europe, including Ireland, Spain and Sweden, Mexico, Canada, and South Africa.
So why - in 2016 - hasn’t Australia legalised marriage equality yet?
The ridiculous thing is that both our Prime Minister and Opposition Leader support marriage equality. So, apparently, does a majority of politicians. And a pretty big majority of Australians.
So what the hell is going on? The answer, as usual, is “politics”.
The good news is that the next Aussie election is in two weeks, and by voting you’ll have a chance to affect when - and how - marriage equality is legalised. And it really is only a question of when - it’s gonna happen eventually.
(Yes Regina, it IS going to happen).
So here’s how your vote will affect marriage equality.
MALCOLM TURNBULL AND THE LIBERALS: a pleb...plebi...plebiwhat now?
The current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull desperately wants to stay in the job he’s only had for less than a year, and you’ll help him out if you vote for the Liberals. If he wins, Malcy wants to have a “plebiscite”. “Plebiscite” is a ridiculous word. It’s also probably a silly idea. A plebiscite is a nationwide vote - but instead of a normal election, it’s just about one issue. So Malcy would basically ask us what we think about letting everyone who wants to get married to get married, we go along to the voting booth (again), and let him know by ticking ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If a majority says 'yup, gimme marriage equality please', then Malcy and the Libs will introduce a law that allows it. And a majority of people probably WILL vote in favour of majority equality.
The idea is that marriage equality is a personal issue that people have really strong feelings about - so it’s not something that politicians should decide on our behalf. The Australian people should decide instead. That all sounds really nice, but you could say the same thing for plenty of political issues - like climate change. And we don’t have plebiscites on those issues. Instead we elect politicians who make decisions on our behalf. And there are a couple of other dodgy things about a plebiscite. First off, there are fears it could all get nasty. There’ll be people campaigning AGAINST marriage equality, like the Australian Christian Lobby, or like this great guy, who’s running in the election with the Family First party:
Though Orlando is abhorrent, it doesn't change the real & present dangers of the gay marriage agenda to Aus children.
— Peter Madden (@petermadden2u) June 13, 2016
And that’s an even bigger fear in the wake of the Orlando shooting, in which a gunman shot and killed 49 people in a popular gay nightclub. This week, LGBTQI community leaders have called on Malcy to can the whole plebiscite thing, out of fears it could lead to violence and discrimination in Australia. One guy running with the Labor party said after the Orlando massacre the plebiscite will pit Australians against each other, and “provide fuel and a voice to ongoing attacks on the LGBTI community”.
Australian lawmakers praying for #orlando would do better to vote to abolish the planned plebiscite on equal marriage. Enshrine the rights.
— Clementine Ford (@clementine_ford) June 13, 2016
Another problem is that it could cost HALF A BILLION DOLLAR$$$. That is 109,647,609 Big Macs. Or 773,195 iPhone SEs. Or almost 5 million years of a Netflix subscription. :| FWIW, Turnbull says he’ll vote yes to marriage equality in the plebiscite, which he wants to have by the end of the year.
OH: "A #marriageequality plebiscite is pretty much a $500 million stimulus package for hate speech, yeah?"
— Je Suis Paris (@DavidParis) June 16, 2016
BILL SHORTEN AND LABOR: a free vote in 100 days
OK, say you want to kick Malcolm Turnbull out and bring in Bill Shorten by voting for Labor. The good news is that Bill has promised to hold a vote on same-sex marriage within 100 days of the election. By my calculations, that’s October 10 (coincidentally that is the day after Bella Hadid’s 20th birthday, happy birthday Bella). The vote will be for parliament, not the public, so you won’t have to get out of bed and to the ballot ahhhhh-gain.
— GetUp! (@GetUp) May 5, 2016
But the vote isn’t guaranteed to pass. Although usually party members have to vote the way their party tells them to (even if they personally disagree), Labor is letting its members have a ‘conscience vote’. They can decide for themselves how to vote - and can vote AGAINST marriage equality. The plan is to have a binding vote in 2019, if marriage equality is still not a thing - so then every member of the party would have to vote for it.
There ARE people who say that a majority of politicians actually are in favour of marriage equality - but it’s not guaranteed. The result might depend on if the Liberals let their politicians have a conscience vote as well - at the moment, whenever marriage equality comes up for debate in Parliament, they have to vote against it. Like Malcy, old mate Bill also personally supports marriage equality, and even marched in Sydney’s Mardi Gras this year.
THE GREENS AND FRIENDS
The Greens are unanimously in favour of marriage equality. They promise to support it “every vote, every time”. They won’t get enough people elected to form government, but they could help Labor pass it with their free vote.
Greens believe in marriage equality. We don't squabble abt it behind party doors or back down to get more votes. pic.twitter.com/vtAMIm4K0q
— Dawn Walker (@greensdawn) June 15, 2016
To see whether your local member supports marriage equality, click here.
Come on, guys. Let’s just get this sorted out ASAP.
- Hannah Ryan.