When asked by The Australian newspaper who he would prefer as leader of the Labor Party, the organisation’s National Director Rodney Croome took the opportunity to argue the importance of leadership to the marriage equality debate. He compared the status of the issue in Australia to other countries where marriage equality has been achieved.
“A crucial element in the achievement of marriage equality in places like New Zealand, France and soon the UK, has been leadership from the head of government,” said Croome.
Croome argued that a Labor Party led by Rudd would see the marriage equality movement in a better position after the next election.
“If the polls are correct, Rudd’s leadership of the Labor Party will also mean many MPs who support marriage equality will keep their seats,” he said.
“Having a leader who supports marriage equality would improve the Labor Party’s chances of reaching out to young voters who polls show passionately support this reform.”
Croome told the Star Observer his statements were not intended to be regarded as support for a leadership change before the next election, but he hoped to use the opportunity to highlight the importance of leadership for marriage equality.
Marriage equality organisation Equal Love echoed Croome’s statements that a leader who personally supports marriage equality would benefit the movement, but did not want to offer their support for a specific candidate.
“I think there is an argument for Kevin Rudd or someone who supports same-sex marriage rights to be the leader of the party, but that will only translate into a real gain for our movement if that also means scrapping the conscience vote and bringing the parliamentary caucus in line with [Labor Party] policy, which is on the books as equal rights,” Equal Love Secretary Louise O’Shae told the Star Observer.
“I haven’t seen Kevin Rudd anywhere say he will insist MPs vote in favour of marriage equality,” she said, stating Equal Love would support whoever could get the legislation passed.
However, O’Shae also said it was “understandable” for marriage equality supporters to favour someone who personally supports that position, such as Rudd.
Star Observer asked marriage equality and Gillard supporter Federal MP Tanya Plibersek to comment on the involvement of the marriage equality lobby in party politics, but only received a brief statement.
“The biggest obstacle to marriage equality in Australia is Tony Abbott refusing to allow his MPs a conscience vote,” said Plibersek.
Rudd came out in support of marriage equality last month, in a move widely covered by Australian media and tied to the ongoing leadership speculation around the federal Labor Party.