Fools & Cowards

DelCons heading to the LNP party room

Equal Marriage is in danger, not from the DelCons of the right, but the appeasers in the Cabinet

The leaders of the LNP are cowering before the delusional conservatives in the party, saying that they must be appeased with amendments to Dean Smith marriage bill. Brandis is shrugging off LGBTI objections, offering the legalistic argument that there is no harm in purely “symbolic” amendments.

He’s wrong, as I will explain. There is no such thing as a “symbolic” amendment. But that’s because he doesn’t understand what the opponents of equality are up to. And he’s still swallowing some of their lies.


It’s clear from the survey results that the DelCon case doesn’t, as they claim, appeal to the majority of  voters. This was confirmed by the Queensland election, where the LNP put their most right-wing leader and policies up against a lacklustre Labor premier, and barely laid a glove on her.

LNP swung right. LNP lost seats. The right wing agenda is electoral poison. Go right and you LOSE.

But even if this is not enough to persuade the likes of Senator Brandis and Malcolm Turnbull to tell the anti-equality brigade to sod off, there are others.


No matter how many amendments the government accepts, no matter how they water down the bill, the reactionaries still won’t vote for it. Their aim is not to craft a bill they can support: they are trying to craft a bill that Labor and the Greens will reject.

They don’t want marriage equality passed by Christmas. They don’t marriage equality to pass, ever. They want the bill to fail, and to pin the failure on Labor and the Greens.


They claim LGBTI community are so worn down, so tired of fighting, so desperate to “get married by Christmas”, they will swallow a few ‘harmless, symbolic’ amendments. That may be true of some of our advocates (though by no means all), but not the majority. Most of us have already said, in several surveys, we’re prepared to wait if it’s not true equality.


What’s important to LGBTI is marriage as a symbol of equality. Of our acceptance and embrace.

That’s the whole point: to change the law so that it takes absolutely no notice of the gender or sexuality of the two adults getting married. No ifs or buts.

This bill is to ensure that there is only one marriage, open to all. Inserting a ‘symbolic’ amendment with two definitions of marriage, does the opposite. There must be no difference in the law.

Got it yet?


In plain English, it’s not the marriage, stupid, it’s the equality.

That’s why all the other proposed amendments from the right (and some of the provisions already in the bill) are unacceptable. They reassert difference. The only acceptable amendments are those that erase it.

Only fools and cowards would fight a battle, only to allow the losers to dictate the terms of surrender, but thats what we seem to have in this government.

Labor and the Greens must have no hesitation in voting out any amendments, or voting down the bill altogether if it retains any of these poison pills. We did not fight all this time only to be fobbed off with a tawdry second-rate prize.

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)