Well, I guess we all knew it was coming, but news that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will allow Labor MPs a conscience vote on gay marriage doesn’t make the reality of the decision any easier.
Of course, the Labor Party itself may still vote in favour of marriage equality at the National Conference in December but as long as the Coalition refuses to allow a conscience vote on the issue, any legislation put forward now would certainly sink like a stone. The numbers are simply not there. It looks as if the road to this reform still has a long way to go.
Given current political realities, I’m sure Gillard sees this as the only appeasing option, bearing in mind the flak she copped over her carbon tax reversal.
This doesn’t change the fact that it’s a weak response to an issue most Australians support and she is playing politics with people’s lives.
Galaxy polls have consistently shown a majority support for change. This week’s Nielsen poll, published in The Age, shows 62 percent of voters support marriage equality, up from 57 percent in 2010.
This poll also showed 71 percent of Labor voters (versus 22 percent), 86 percent of Greens voters (versus 10) and 50 percent of Coalition voters (versus 44 percent) support legalising gay marriage.
While these figures reveal a prime minister at odds with her party, the response from Coalition voters should not be glossed over.
That 50 percent of Coalition voters support change goes some way to proving how far removed both leaders are from the actual view of the people who vote them in.
However, the Coalition somehow manages to contain these views.
Abbott’s position on a conscience vote and his opposition to gay marriage has been as firm as Gillard’s, but he is rarely challenged as much to justify his position.
Granted he is in opposition, but these poll numbers suggest perhaps he ought to, because he and his voters aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye.
British Conservative prime minister David Cameron on the other hand has managed to show some leadership on the issue and declared his support.
Cameron said in a speech earlier this year that his support was based on conservative values.
“I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative,” he said.
“I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
Meanwhile, back home, as the federal Government drags the chain, Tasmania has already indicated it will enact its own legislation to allow same-sex marriage.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has also passed a motion this week in its Legislative Assembly calling for change.
More sideshows until the main event. And again we wait until our elected representatives finally have the courage to stand up for what a majority of voters want.