The first opportunity for a real cross-party debate since gay and lesbian policies were formalised took place at the Paddington Uniting Church on Saturday -“ but the Liberals were nowhere to be found.
Labor, Greens and the Democrats were united in support of full financial equality and de facto recognition for same-sex couples, and agreed that federal laws had fallen behind mainstream community views.
But candidates without a commitment to full equality and de facto recognition -“ notably the Liberals -“ failed to show, leaving Labor in the hot-seat on the only issue of contention: marriage.
I think there are some people in the community for whom it’s marriage or nothing, and I accept that they will continue to lobby for marriage, and that is perfectly within their rights, Sydney Labor MP Tanya Plibersek said.
We live in a democracy, and I am sure, over time, attitudes will change.
Her campaign launch at Trades Hall on Sunday was a far cry from Kevin Rudd’s ill-managed radio comments on same-sex marriage last week.
It was clear at the launch that much of Plibersek’s work has involved assisting members of the gay and lesbian community overcome bureaucratic discrimination.
She argued in the party room against supporting the 2004 same-sex marriage ban, and later abstained from the vote. However, this has not stopped the Greens targeting her over Labor’s support for the ban.
I think it is great when people turn up and put their view forward, and I think it is a real shame that there was no one from the Liberal Party, Plibersek told SSO.
But earlier that day, incumbent Liberal Wentworth MP and cabinet member Malcolm Turnbull told SSO he was quietly confident of interdependency reforms after the election.
The areas of financial and legal reform, things like superannuation, Medicare, I see it as just a question of getting it done, he said.
He argued all of society had a vested interest in supporting co-dependency, which includes same-sex relationships.
Many of our greatest social problems come from isolation and loneliness, Turnbull said.
If two people choose to live together and support each other, whether in a sexual or entirely platonic relationship, then that is something we all have an interest in. The key value is a shared commitment to a common life.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is unequivocally opposed to interdependency, and has successfully lobbied several Liberal backbenchers to demand more substantial relationship recognition.
It can apply to two brothers, it doesn’t recognise the loving and sexual nature of same-sex relationships and also doesn’t hold the same symbolic significance, Lobby co-convenor Peter Johnson said.
The community has voted strongly that they want symbolic recognition of their relationships, most importantly through civil unions or marriage.
Barring that, he added, the community would prefer de facto equality.
Saturday’s forum was attended by Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, George Newhouse, and Doug Cameron; Greens’ Kerry Nettle, Jenny Leong, and Susan Jarnason; and Democrats’ Pierce Field and Lyn Shumack.

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