Why Are We Waiting?

What are we waiting for? And for how long?


Waiting for AME to deliver a petition with 41,300 signatures (they’re delighted with the numbers, by the way) demanding “marriage now and no plebiscite”. SIGN IT HERE Marriage Now! Anti-Plebiscite Petition.

getup petition

I spoke yesterday to AME/A4E spokesperson Clint McGilvray, who told me that they were delighted with the huge number of people who had signed the petition, and that they would definitely be presenting it to the PM as part of something big, but could give no details of what, or when.

We should be lining up a mass of celebs and a fleet of rainbow trucks on parliament’s lawns as soon as the PM returns from overseas. McGilvray is right. This is big. The biggest number of people they’ve ever had sign one of their petitions. So let’s make a big show, eh? Soon.


Waiting for a clear statement from all gay rights campaigners in Canberra that the PFLAG survey and others mean the community will accept nothing else but marriage now and no plebiscite.

Everyone is paying lip service to “no plebiscite” but too many are quietly adding “unless there’s no other way.” The door continues to be left ajar. As the unequivocal rejection by LGBTI people in the PFLAG survey and others has shown, it’s well past time for this door to be firmly slammed shut. Tell your MPs and Senators we don’t want a plebiscite CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE 


Waiting while someone, anyone, comes up with an alternative plan to get marriage through this parliament. The phrase “there is no Plan B” has been bruited abroad by the Coalition, meaning they only have “plebiscite or nothing” to offer. But no-one else seems to have a Plan B either, beyond “put up another Private Members Bill and watch it fail.” Not good enough.

Labor has nothing else. AME has nothing else. The rejection of the plebiscite by the LGBTI community has left everyone without a Plan B. I can understand the witless idiots in government having nothing else in their locker, but why didn’t our guys see this coming, and why are they now standing paralysed like a roo in the middle of the road?

Waiting for a clear exposition of exactly how long the plebiscite process would take, from now to the first marriage, which will almost certainly show that it will be no quicker than waiting till the next parliament. I reckon we might just manage to get through the process by Christmas next year if we’re lucky, but it could take much longer. Assuming this government survives.

This is the key point. People are still insisting, despite all evidence to the contrary, that a plebiscite will still get us to marriage faster than no plebiscite and waiting for this government to fall/be pushed/die a natural death. As the old song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

Supposing this insulting, disrespectful and dangerous plebiscite is forced on us regardless of our wishes, we will still be waiting.


by John Elsenschenck

Waiting for the Coalition to finalise what the question & plan will be: they’ve had since before the election, and they still have nothing. It’s now September. Let’s be generous and say they manage to corral the party room into burping up something by the end of the month. Then –


Waiting for them to get plebiscite-enabling legislation through both houses, which will not be easy (and isn’t even all that likely): perhaps by the end of the year, what with all the amending, un-amending, deal-making, floor crossing and everything else that will go on.


Waiting while the electoral commission gets itself organized to actually run a plebiscite: they have said that, from the date enabling legislation passes, they will need at least 29 weeks. About six months.


Waiting while we hold the public campaign & ‘debate’: we’ve already been told this will be between two and six months, depending on who wins the party room arguments. Split the difference and call it four.

Waiting while we hold the popular vote: at least that will be over and counted in a day or so. Hopefully. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the No vote will win. Or the result is so close that conservatives refuse to pass the legislation. But let’s assume it passes, and all MPs behave themselves and cause no more problems.


Waiting while the Coalition drafts the resulting legislation and gets it agreed by their party room. This is the stage where everyone will sit around arguing what the result actually meant. Did the people authorize a broad or a narrow definition of equal marriage? And we will also play “who gets an exemption”.

Given the time it’s taken them to come up with a plebiscite bill, give them another couple of months. The chance that this government will still be in power by the latter date is at best only 50-50.


Waiting while the government juggles everything else it’s trying to do with a one vote majority which they could lose at any time to accident, illness, sickness, or some Coalition MP coming to their senses and leaving the party.

No doubt there will be the usual argument that something else is more urgent, or more important. There might be a major terrorist incident that derails everything. Or a major scandal with a Minister caught with his hands in the till. They will need to find time to introduce the legislation.

Waiting while the legislation makes its way through both houses of parliament, with all the amendments that both sides will undoubtedly put up.


Waiting while the bureaucracy works out how to put the legislation into effect.

Even once the legislation is in place, it won’t be a matter of rushing out and getting wed on the spot. These things take time. “The legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in July 2013 and came into force on 13 March 2014, and the first same-sex marriages took place on 29 March 2014.” [Wikipedia]

Perhaps not quite that long, but let’s allow a month or two. We might just squeeze in a Christmas wedding.



pic Suzette Franck

Waiting even longer. If the vote is close and enough MPs decide they won’t support a change, it’ll be off the agenda for at least the rest of this parliament (if it’s still running by now). And the homophobes will continue to rage. And it will be an issue at the next election. And who can tell how that will go.

It’s also entirely possible the vote will be lost. Polls tend to tighten the nearer an actual vote approaches, and the anti-gay propaganda machine will have plenty of time to spew lies and filth convince people of the truth.

In which case its over red rover, at least in my lifetime. Perhaps ten years at least. The time to make the change is now. If Turnbull won’t change his mind and abandon the plebiscite, if the Liberal members of our tribe won’t risk their necks for us, what is Plan B?

I’m waiting for our representatives to tell us.

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)