You Can’t Compromise Equality

Equality cannot be compromised, or it isn’t equality

I hate having to repeat myself, but it seems that many of the YES campaign have forgotten what we are fighting for. We are fighting for marriage EQUALITY.

They keep telling me politics is about compromise, as if such a thing is possible.  It isn’t. We are either equal, or we’re not: equality is not divisible., as I’ve been pointing out since at least 2015.

Our opponents are fond of telling us that Rudd gave us equality in 2009: he didn’t. Labor amended 85 laws in our favour but left much else untouched. Our opponents also ask why we can’t be satisfied with de facto or civil union states because ‘its the same thing”. No it’s not: check the pdf below for the explanation why.

To take one gloomy example, I may be barred from my husbands side when he is gravely ill, be prevented from having any say in his funeral arrangements, have his will set aside, all in favour of “blood relatives”, because I don’t count as next as kin unless we are married. And more. See below.

Not Quite Right

We are not fighting for just any old thing bearing a tatty label saying “marriage”. We are not risking our sanity for the sake of a plastic replica or a cheap $2-shop knock-off. The government have been trying to fob us off with some gimcrack 2nd-rate “marriage” for some time, as I wrote back in November last year.

We’re doing this for the real 100% thing: marriage, and only marriage, by the same name, on exactly the same terms, one law for everyone, no exceptions, no exemptions. Ever. No “Dolce&Banana” fake.


It’s the EQUALITY that counts. The religious folk would fob us off with a cut-down replica. We’re not buying.

“But Doug, Doug, surely, half a loaf is NOT better than no bread?” plead their apologists.

No, not when the half loaf is poisoned with rules that would privilege any one section of the population over us: that’s exactly what we’re fighting to get rid of. So everyone gets the same fair go on the same terms.

Not what we want

As I said at the beginning, I hate repeating myself. So here’s what I said back when we knocked over the first plebiscite proposal. It’s as true now as it was then.

But there is a danger that, in the haste to get this done – a haste, by the way, of which I wholly approve – [campaigners are]… flirting with danger. They claim that the proposed amendments to the marriage act released by the Attorney-General this week provide “a window to achieve reform.

“This is the first time an Australian government has developed legislation for marriage equality, and provides a starting point to progress reform through a legislative path.”

It doesn’t. It offers a path to enshrine anti-LGBTI discrimination in law. The AGs amendments would increase the scope for marriage celebrants and religious-owned businesses and facilities to refuse to serve the LGBTI community. We want ‘Australian Marriage Equality’, not ‘Australian Not Quite Marriage’. Or “Garriage” or “Pairage” as suggested by Sophie York of the Marriage Alliance, an even more venomous crew than the ACL.

Dean Smith’s Bill is, in my view, even worse than this. But still the greedy children are not satisfied. Morrison, Abbott, Abetz and the rest want yet more get-outs, even for the non-religious.

“Let us be very clear: marriage equality equals marriage, open to all couples, on exactly the same terms. Equality does not admit compromise. No special conditions, no opt-outs, no special privileges for those who don’t care for idea. They must just hold their noses and do their jobs. They’ll get used to it.

If ministers of religion don’t want to perform non-hetero marriages, fine. They get a waiver. But no-one else. If a church (or any other religious operation) happens to run a business tangentially affected by the change, tough. If you’re in business, you serve everyone the same, regardless of creed, colour, race, handedness, hair colour, sexual orientation or gender diversity.

In our eagerness to embrace marriage, we must not jettison equality.”

Really? No!


I have two questions for our opponents.

  1. Spell out in explicit detail what exemptions, privileges, rights etc. you want, and exactly for whom. Not after the plebishite is done – now.
  2. If LGBTI agree to grant you those rights etc., in a marriage bill, will you agree that LGBTI should have exactly the same reciprocal rights to discriminate, on grounds of religion or conscience, against you and your followers?

Over to you, Leigh Sales. Pin them down. Because otherwise, we don’t know what the consequences of our vote might be, do we?


Download (PDF, 36KB)

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)