Events over the weekend have shown without a doubt there is but a hair’s breadth of difference between the Liberals and Labor when it comes to gay and lesbian equality.
Both believe the most committed of our relationships to be inherently different and less than heterosexual marriage (or anything that might mimic it). Neither is particularly comfortable with the idea of us as parents, and both would rather bend over backwards to placate a minority of hateful Christians than represent the majority of Australians who support same-sex marriage.
Last year, Kevin Rudd promised us he would not use the Commonwealth’s power of veto over Territories to block civil unions in the ACT -“ no matter what. He lied to you.
Another who misled us was Labor’s Senator Kate Lundy, who promised before the last Federal election that she would fight for the ACT’s right to decide the issue of civil unions on its own if it came to such a veto.
In 2006, Lundy voted against Howard’s veto of the bill -“ but when her own party threatened to repeat the tactic, she backflipped and fell into line.
Last week, safely in office, she fessed up that Labor Party rules actually prevent her from doing any such thing.
The sort of dissent from within Government ranks by progressive Liberals like Warren Entsch and others that occurred during the Howard years is an impossibility for Labor MPs as long as they don’t want to risk expulsion from the party, and even public disagreement with Labor policy can invite censure.
In comparison, Liberals, Nationals, Democrats and Greens can and do dissent from their parties’ lines, both in their public comments and voting patterns. Only Labor maintains this anti-democratic stranglehold on its members where crossing the floor outside a conscience vote can end political careers.
With Labor’s right wing in control of the party at both a state and federal level, it begs the question -“ is there any point in voting for a gagged and shackled Labor Left?
In comparison, the Greens’ Kerry Nettle will be moving amendments to the Government’s long-awaited same-sex reforms package to ensure that the issue of equal access to marriage continues to be debated and stays in the headlines. Her fellow Greens senators have the freedom to vote against them if they wish -“ but they won’t.