August 13 has become a day of shame for the ALP for the second time in five years.
First was Labor’s support for the 2004 ban on same-sex marriage. This time it’s dignifying the Christian right’s National Marriage Day with the presence of its Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Ursula Stephens.
The callous symbolism of the date could not have escaped the Government or Stephens -” after all, she voted for the ban. That the event was a festival of exclusion was obvious from the start. If a simple gabfest on the value of marriage, where were the Muslim speakers, or the Hindus, or Buddhists? They marry too.
Co-organisers the Australian Family Association made clear what it was really about. Did you know that the meaning and legal standing of marriage is under threat again? A Greens bill  will re-define marriage as a union between -˜any two people’, and the Tasmanian Labor Conference -¦ passed a motion that there should be equal access to marriage under Australian law, regardless of sex.
Stephens’ address was fairly bland, but in 2007 she boasted to a gathering of Baptists that her  politics and Christianity intersect all the time, and not just when those -˜moral majority’ issues crop up -¦ I am not the only Member of Parliament committed to using this position to help make Christ’s teaching a reality.
Stephens is president of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship and Labor MPs are well represented among its almost 90 members.
The two boards that inform the Federal Government’s Social Inclusion regime and report to Stephens are also heavily stacked with Christians. Its Community Task Force contains eight representatives of church groups on a board of 13, while its Social Inclusion Board has another five. Not a single representative of the gay community can found among them despite our marginal status, and sexual minorities factor nowhere on the list of priorities.
While the ALP keeps trumpetinglast year’s reforms, same-sex couples remain excluded from equal treatment under Federal law -” excluded from the certainty that their wishes will be honoured by private superannuation funds, excluded from grandfathering to pension changes afforded other older Australians, excluded from equal respect for their relationships in marriage or a legally recognised ceremony under another name.
New exclusions look set to continue under this Government, with the certainty that any anti-discrimination laws it passes will contain loopholes for religious groups, and with planned anti-terror laws making it an offence to incite violence against individuals based on race, religion or nationality -” but not sexuality -” despite abundant examples of terrorism directed at GLBT people around the world.

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