Libs Allow Paterson Bill to Go Forward

With the publication of the demented, shameful, ridiculous Paterson bill we can now see on full display the depth and breadth of the hatred and prejudice that has infected the Liberal Party. The fact that it can be produced, let alone given serious consideration, is a mark of how far into the gutter the Liberal Party has sunk.

A principled leader would have condemned it immediately and announced that no party of which he was a member would ever contemplate anything so vile. Instead, Turnbull shrugged his shoulders, abandoned all pretence at leadership, and announced he would allow matters to take their course and leave it up to parliament.

Labor, poorly advised and blindsided by trenchant LGBTI opposition to any compromise in marriage legislation, seems to have been struck dumb. Or at any rate, equally bereft of any meaningful principled response. Bill Shorten has once again become the invisible man, when he ought to be spitting fire and thunder, heading the condemnation of both bills produced by the LNP.

In hindsight the Smith Bill can be seen as a terrible error: by admitting the principle that equality can be compromised, even slightly, it opened the door for Paterson. By giving away in advance any concessions to religion-driven prejudice, it signaled that there was an opportunity for our haters to demand more.

There wasn’t, there isn’t, and there never will be.

I grow sick of pointing out the blindingly obvious, but here goes:

  • It’s Marriage Equality, not same-sex marriage
  • For all LGBTI, not just same-sex couples
  • The key word is Equality: identical laws for all marriages, no exclusions or exemptions
  • It is impossible to be a bit equal, or half-equal, or even 99.9% equal
  • Compromise is not and never was possible: we must win and our opponents must lose, and learn to live with it

And so this vile business rolls on. Even a win in the survey seems highly unlikely to produce the breakthrough it was supposed to. The outcome is likely to be an even more compromised version of the Smith Bill, nowhere near to equality. It won’t be Marriage Equality, it will be Marriage Apartheid.

I fear we must resign ourselves to zero progress – and ongoing pain – until this government is flushed out of the gutter and into the sewers, where it belongs. That’s the only way we’ll have equality for Christmas.

Then we can start afresh, with a simple, one-page NZ style Marriage bill, or move to a more comprehensive reform that separates state and religious marriages, on the French model.

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)