While Prime Minister Julia Gillard seems to have painted herself into a corner on the issue of marriage equality – and that will remain a stumbling block for some time – we are clearly winning the debate within Australian society.
Recent polling by Roy Morgan has shown support for marriage equality at 68 percent, the highest to date, while three out of four Australians accept the issue as an inevitability.
In another step forward, this year’s Census will record for the first time not just same-sex marriages conducted overseas, but the marriage of any couple who believe they are married — whether the laws of Australia recognise their unions or not.
The 2011 Census is also likely to see the largest drop in the number of people identifying themselves as religious in some time after a campaign by the Australian Secular Lobby encouraging those who identify with faith communities for reasons of culture rather than belief to say “not in my name” to conservative church leaders who claim to speak for them.
The opposing camp know they are losing and it has got them rattled. And that desperation will increasingly play out in their actions – and it has begun already.
The Australian Family Association and the Marriage Is campaign (whoever they are when they’re at home) have been caught putting the Commonwealth Coat of Arms atop petitions against same-sex marriage — which could well be in breach of the law.
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace is increasingly jumping off the deep end in his public statements — most recently in joining with Loree Rudd in comparing advocates of equality to the Nazis’ secret police, drawing rebuke from Australia’s Jewish community.
And the organisers of the National Marriage Day on August 16 are still telling their followers that MPs will be reporting back to the Parliament on their consultations with constituents on August 17, when it has been known for weeks they report back on the 24th.
It was a big enough ask to get a crowd to Canberra on a week day (don’t these people have jobs?), but with the raison d’etre for the event moved, it must surely take the wind out of their sails.
We know we are winning, but we still need to keep our wits about us. We must not adopt the hubris that the anti-marriage equality camp have shown to date. An animal is most dangerous when it is wounded.
They still have deep pockets, and friends overseas who could well be eying the fight here with a view to throwing resources behind what remains a bulkhead against the flow of reform across the globe.