It’s been another pretty big gay news week. The last time I sat down to pen this editorial, US president Barack Obama was yet to ‘evolve’ on same-sex marriage. What a difference a week makes.
I think Obama’s public coming-out in support of marriage equality was a significant step in the right direction. Sure, it doesn’t change much for the average American LGBT couple — they still can’t marry and are unable to access legal protections same-sex couples take for granted here. But even small steps forward are worth recognising for what they are — progress.
What I believe Obama’s support on same-sex marriage also gives, is a space for world leaders, past and present, to tackle the issue.
On this side of the globe, former Victorian premier and beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett — who last year caused a stir when he said children are better off with opposite-sex parents — has undergone an evolution on same-sex marriage all of his own. Kennett first flagged his change of mind on radio station 3AW in March, but in a newspaper column this week, he went a step further to implore the Catholic Church and others to review their opposition to change.
This is all well and good from the safety of political retirement. The problem is, marriage equality remains an issue that still ties politicians in knots and Prime Minister Julia Gillard isn’t the only one having a hard time squaring her views on the matter.
Look no further than the awkward turns of Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey on the ABC’s Q&A program this week with his contention that heterosexual couples don’t necessarily make better parents than gay couples, but gay couples with (or without) children still shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
I’ve watched this exchange again and Hockey looks mighty uncomfortable. As uncomfortable as you’d feel telling a work colleague — albeit on the other side of the political divide — that they are not your equal when it comes to solemnising their relationship with their spouse.
Finance Minister Penny Wong’s response, “I know what my family is worth”, really hits at the heart of what the LGBTI community is asking for. Fair treatment.
It’s important to note that this week marks the 12th International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). Hopefully Australia’s political leaders undergo an evolution on this issue by the time IDAHO 2013 rolls around. It’s not impossible.