In 2004 John Howard and Labor amended the Marriage Act by adding:
“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
“Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.”
This is still Labor, Liberal and National Party policy. Compare it with the amendment made to New York law last week.
“A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex.
“No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being the same sex or a different sex.
“All relevant gender-specific language set forth in or referenced by New York law shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner.
“No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex.”
Just replace ‘New York’ with ‘Australian’ and you have the perfect replacement for John Howard’s words.
Also last week, Western Australia joined the growing list of state Labor Parties endorsing same-sex marriage.
If you remember your Bible, St Paul was on the road to Damascus when he suddenly saw the light and switched from persecuting Christians to becoming Jesus’ number one spin doctor.
Taken together, WA and NY could have provided the prime minister’s ‘Road to Damascus’ moment.
In March she stood starry-eyed in the US House of Representatives and gushed, “Your great dream — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — inspires us all”.
But not this time. This time, her inspiration was John Howard.
Speaking of the Tampa refugees, Howard said, “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.
“We’ll make our own decisions in this country based on what’s right for Australia,” said Gillard, quarantining us from New York equality.
Tony Abbott said nothing, though it’s a fair bet that if he had, he would have taken his text from the Catholic Archbishop of New York, who sighed, “The passage … of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled”.
Unfortunately, Julia is now out of step with most voters, and her own party, as it’s likely that equal marriage will become Labor policy at the upcoming national conference.
She had better not miss the next opportunity for a Damascene conversion* to a New York state of mind.
* “A sudden and complete change in one’s beliefs.” Wikipedia