Moving on? Not yet.

pic: Kurt Bauschardt

Sorry to rain on the parade, but there’s lots to do before we’re equal, even in marriage.

We barely won the ‘vote’

It’s been a year since the postal vote. People are celebrating our ‘win’. Almost 62% of people who voted, voted Yes. 38% voted no. Around 3 million or 20% of eligible ‘voters failed to vote at all.

Or to put it another way, approximately 50% of eligible voters said voters said yes. 30% said No. And 20% said nothing. About half the country either doesn’t want us to be equal, or doesn’t care. We still have to win them over.

Not a lot to celebrate in that.

It’s still marriage apartheid, not marriage equality

Then there’s the resulting legislation. It did NOT deliver equality. As Alastair Lawrie pointed out

It is clear that Senator Smith’s Marriage Bill is far less concerned with allowing all couples to marry irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, and far more concerned with allowing individuals and organisations to discriminate against couples on the basis of these very same attributes.

Australian Marriage Equality accepted this continuing marriage apartheid: many others did not:

AME put out a statement backing the Dean Smith Bill (HERE), while just.equal stalwarts Rodney Croome, Shelley Argent and Ivan Hinton Teoh argued for its rejection. They want the religious and conscience exemptions (except those already extant for clergy), removed from the bill. So, for the record, do I.

Argument raged back and forth on Facebook between those who deem those exemptions too minor to worry about, and those who fear the precedent they set and the message they send.

In the end, we were forced to accept the sellout compromise law that we now have.

Not a lot to celebrate there either.

Not fully recognised

My husband and I married in his home state of Hawaii, where the law makes no distinction. While that marriage is recognised under Australian law, that recognition is incomplete. If we wish to use our new married surname in Australia – for example, on our drivers licences – I understand that we must formally change it under Australian law (anyone else experience this?).

Work to be done there, too.

Gave up too soon

AME walked away from the fight before it was over, patting themselves on the back. As soon as the bill was passed they shut up shop, dismantled the campaign, and continue tom pretend that its all overt now. But we still don’t have marriage equality, or much equality anywhere else either.

So forgive me if I’m not waving flags, cheering and downing a few coldies. The work continues.

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)