Rainbow Report: Is Equal Marriage Dead?

Is Marriage Equality Dead? Well, we lost the vote in the federal parliament, then we lost the vote in the Tasmanian parliament. We lost the charismatic leader of the marriage equality movement, Alex Greenwich, to state politics. And it seems like a lot of us lost interest.

Which is of course exactly what our opponents wanted. They are smugly sitting back talking about maybe letting us have another go maybe in ten or twenty years time, confident they have smashed our movement for equality.

Emphasis has now shifted to the idea that the states can pass their own marriage bills, though it’s by no means certain that these would withstand a court challenge. Indeed it was this doubt that seems to have killed the Tasmanian bill.

On the other hand, there’s been a series of stunning victories in the USA yesterday: will that fire up the cause again?

Maine: Question 1, which legalizes gay marriage after a 2009 vote struck it down, approved 53-47%.

Maryland: Question 6, legalizes gay marriage in the state approved  52-48%.

Minnesota: Amendment 1, to define “traditional marriage” in the state Constitution, failed 49-51%.

Washington: Referendum 74, legalizes gay marriage, leading 52-48% this morning, and is expected to pass.

Iowa:  Republicans worked hard to take the state Senate, to try to force a new vote on gay marriage. But Democrats have held the state Senate. Justice David Wiggins, one of those who affirmed gay marriage, was retained.

New York:  Democrats will take the state Senate, edging past suburban Republicans who seemed to be locked in. The National Organization for Marriage had published a three-part plan for repealing gay marriage there, starting with wins this year. They didn’t get them.

So big wins in the US. Plus President Obama specifically mentioned us twice in his victory speech, Does that change the dynamic over here?

In the ACT the re-election of a Labor government, with Green support, ensures there will be a gay marriage bill there: ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr will bring us up to date.

Meanwhile in South Australia a joint Labor/Greens marriage bill is due early next year, plus a civil unions bill from Independent MP Bob Such is already before parliament: Bob will join us tonight.

The Greens will also attempt state-based bills in WA and Victoria: Ted Baillieu has declined to find time for it here. If anyone knows the state of play in WA, please let me know.

In the NSW the aforementioned Alex Greenwich is now MP for Sydney in the state parliament: he has vowed to push a marriage bill there. He’ll tell us why tonight.

Some people still have the fire for a fight, but are there enough of them? There’s a Rally for Marriage Equity on Saturday November 17 in Albury and, of all places, Gladstone.  Equal Love rallies in Melbourne & Perth Saturday 24,  and on Sunday 25 in Sydney and BrisbaneJames Vigus, who has been an activist from marriage from a socialist perspective, will be with us shortly from Adelaide.

What’s your take? Got any questions? Let me know.

The Rainbow Report, every Thursday 7pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time, at these times around the world, on Joy 94.9 Melbourne: click the link to listen online, or download the smartphone app that lets you listen and contact the studio with the push of a button. Email me, or tweet @rainbowreporter, and please Like the Facebook Page.

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)