The left caved, and we were comprehensively sold out by supposed allies Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong: the left faction proved a broken reed.
A sensible compromise was on the table, to allow Labor MPs and Senators a conscience vote on marriage equality in this Parliament. After that, Labor would bind all to vote in favour in subsequent parliaments, and campaign on this policy at the next election.
This was not enough, and faced with pressure to support Shortens leadership, the left agreed to an even more diluted compromise, that Labor would stick with the non-binding policy in this and the next parliament, only moving to a binding policy the election after that, around 2019.
Which in real terms kicks the can so far down the road, it means never. Labor squibbed the challenge and is now hoping someone else will do the hard yards, before they again swoop in and try to steal the credit.
To soften the betrayal, Shorten promised to bring in a marriage bill in the first 100 days of the next Labor administration. Note, that’s a marriage bill, not full marriage equality. Such a measure could very well be riddled with so many compromises and exemptions as to be virtually worthless. Plus, of course, he can’t guarantee to pass it, because he wont bind his MPs and Senators.
Which makes his promise worthless.
In return for this heap of nothing, LGBTI are expected to once again work and vote for a Labor victory. Once again we are being asked to work as unpaid interns on the vague promise that they’ll try do something for us later, when business improves.
That something, as we all know, is usually a handshake and a wave goodbye, suckers.
As I see it, LGBTI within and without Labor have few choices left.
The obvious choice is to leave the party, join the Greens, and work hard to unseat as many anti-gay Labor members and Senators as possible.
The only other honourable alternative is to stay in the party but refuse to support, campaign for, endorse, or in any way consort with any anti-gay MP or Senator of candidate, and to work hard to have them disendorsed. And to feed useful information that might assist them to lose their seats to the press, marriage equality organisations, and your colleagues in the Greens. And work for a Green-Labor coalition.
The task for those of us who have already decided we can no longer stomach Labor, especially after their truly major betrayal over refugees, is to campaign as vigorously against our opponents in Labor as we have against our opponents in all other parties.
Because the truth is now plain. Labor is, was, and will only ever be a fair weather friend, interested only in using us to gain power. They will never ever put LGBTI issues at the top of their agenda, and at this stage, that is the minimum requirement for LGBTI support for any politician at any level.
That goes double for members of Rainbow Labor.
On that note, I must add that Louise Pratt managed to get some amendments through conference, for which much thanks are due.
They include a commitment to review the exemptions to anti-discrimination law, to ensure LGBTI refugees are properly identified and assessed by qualified personnel, not to return or resettle LGBTI refugees in countries which criminalise LGBTI people, and to work for a national agreement on equal access to reproductive technology and surrogacy for LGBTI couples.
These are mainly gestural, but nonetheless important markers. Thanks Louise. You ensured that we at least got a few crumbs from the table. But unless we start doing Labor some serious damage, crumbs is all we’ll ever get.
Because Labor just took #LGBTI from the back of the bus and threw us under it.