ANZAC Marriage: A Way To Aussie Equality

ANZAC Day in Wellington: photo courtesy NZ Defence Force

New Zealand’s decision opens the way to a compromise solution on equal marriage in Australia: let’s work together in the ANZAC spirit and recognise all NZ marriages in Australia

Well the Kiwis did it. You can hardly fail to have noticed that they not only legislated equal marriage, but did it handsomely, voting yes 77-44. And then singing a love song. In Parliament. Wellington is sooooo not Canberra.

Before that came the speeches. Rod Swift has put them all online here. One of them was truly great. No apologies for repeating it. Don’t worry – it’s short, and it’s funny.

Meanwhile, as England buried the Iron Lady, the Tin Woman said, yet again, that she wasn’t for turning. I heard it. I was there. Tony Abbott is immovable, too. How can we break the deadlock, when both are in thrall to the Roman Catholic hierarchy – one out of conviction, the other out of political expediency?

That same organisation has been conspicuously silent while opponents of marriage equality in France threaten blood on the streets, violent confrontation, and even flirt with civil war. Anti-gay violence blossoms, unhindered by any denunciation from French Catholic pulpits. Have they been threatening violence here if equality goes ahead?

If so, the French President has the answer: give a typically Gallic shrug, and bring the equal marriage vote on early! Bravo Monsieur le President!

In Britain the government shelled out ten million quid on a don’t-call-it-a-state-funeral for the most rigid reactionary PM of modern times, when an old shoe box and a disused mine shaft would have done perfectly well. But they too are standing up to Catholic zealotry, and will enact equal marriage very soon. How do we get our leaders to do likewise?

There may be a way. The Greens have a clever idea to execute an end run round their intransigence, and capitalise on our close relationship with our Kiwi brothers and sisters.

We have a long tradition of co-operation, as we are about to celebrate next Thursday – ANZAC Day. We live and work in one another’s countries, like neighbours walking in and out of one another’s back yards. So there’s every reason we should recognise all marriages solemnised in New Zealand.

Let’s have ANZAC Marriage! It’s the perfect compromise. Neither Julia nor Tony have to break their word to the electorate or anyone else. MPs on all sides can support it with a clear conscience. If you think recognising overseas marriages offers a sensible compromise, a way forward, a temporary stopgap till we get full equality – and I do – sign up to support Sarah Hanson Young’s bill here.

2DayFM news presenter Geoff Field wants to hold out for marriage in Australia, but would he, if ANZAC marriages were recognised here? Meanwhile his colleagues, Kyle Sandilands and Jaqui O, have started their own petition for marriage equality.

Now don’t get picky. Sandilands may be a scumbag (as one of my followers insists), but he’s a scumbag with a huge following among the kind of people we must get onside if we want to win this. So hold your nose and sign. This is no time to get precious.

The other thing we have to do to win, is to be well-organised and well-funded. Australian Marriage Equality is desperately short of funds, at a time – the run up to the general election – when it’s imperative to knock on doors, lobby parties and candidates, distribute thousands of leaflets.

They need, above all else, money. Before you head out this weekend to get wasted, waste $20 or $50 or whatever you can spare on fighting for your future, instead of on the booze. Give them a donation here. You’ll have less of a hangover and fewer dead brain cells tomorrow. And you’re going to need every single one when Abbott’s in the Lodge.



BONGIORNO: Attorney, this week New Zealand led the way in ditching, I guess, the last frontier of discrimination against gay couples, by allowing them to enter a legal marriage. Sarah Hanson-Young, our Greens Senator, is going to bring amendments into the Parliament so that Australia will
recognise the legally valid marriages of gay couples that are entered into overseas. Has that amendment got any hope of being supported by the Labor Government?

DREYFUS: No. That’s the Greens Party sidestepping what is the actual issue, which is when we get to marriage equality in Australian law. That’s what we should be voting on. That’s what we have voted on already, once. And because Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party are not prepared to allow a
conscience vote in their party room, that vote failed. And I’d call on Tony Abbott – and that what Sarah Hanson-Young should be doing, she should be calling on Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party as well – to allow a conscience vote. Because I think that with a conscience vote –

BONGIORNO: So what is the legal status of gay couples who have married overseas, in Australia?

DREYFUS: They’re legally married under New Zealand law, and one of the things that our Government’s done is to make it possible for all gay and lesbian couples wishing to marry overseas to get what’s called a Certificate of No Impediment, which is something issued by the Australian Government to make it possible for them to go and marry overseas in countries where there is now marriage equality, where you can legally marry. But we need to get to, here – and you might tell from my tone I’m a supporter of marriage equality – we need to get to, here, the same position they’ve got to in New Zealand.

McPHEDRAN: But Attorney, one of the key opponents of this is your Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Surely we need leadership on this issue, otherwise the Kiwis are going to steal, or march on another issue, and all the pink dollars are going to flow across the Tasman. I mean, isn’t this ridiculous? Don’t we look stupid in the eyes of the world?

DREYFUS: It’s our party policy that this is a matter for a conscience vote. It’s a matter on which people hold strong opinions. But Tony Abbott is not prepared to allow a conscience vote, and I think everyone in Australia should say to Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, “Time’s up. Let the people in your party room vote according to their consciences on this issue.”

And I think if you looked at the numbers last time, it’d go pretty close, if not actually get there, towards marriage equality in Australia, if we were to have another vote, and there’s no reason to wait until after the election to do that.

McPHEDRAN: And how long do you think it’ll be before we do have marriage equality in this country?

DREYFUS: I think that it will be within a quite short time. It’s obviously subject to Parliamentary processes, when the vote can be had again, but I think that the mood has shifted. I think that time is now right for us to move to marriage equality in Australia, and New Zealand, as you say –

BONGIORNO: Are you saying there that if Tony Abbott shifts before the election, it could be done before the election?

DREYFUS: There’s no reason why this can’t be brought on for a vote before the election.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)