The prospects for the introduction of same sex marriage for Australians have been transformed in just a few weeks. Although Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains intransigent in her opposition, I wonder how much longer she will be able to hold out.
Last Thursday, Parliament held what was widely (but inaccurately) described as a “gay marriage” vote – and marriage won. This was not, mind, a vote to introduce, marriage equality, but just an advisory vote that MP’s should consult their constituents on the matter. When they do, they will find that by a strong majority, Australians favour introducing legal recognition of same sex marriages. (This should be no big deal. Australian law already provides for the de facto equal treatment of all couples, and thus for informal recognition. All that is required is a mechanism to confirm that such a relationship exists).
The latest opinion poll, just like earlier ones, shows once again just how strong is this support:
Most Australians support gay marriage, the latest Nielsen poll shows.
On same-sex marriage, 23 per cent of those polled said they strongly support legalising it, while 33 per cent said they support it.
This compares with 16 per cent who said they were opposed, 21 per cent who said they were strongly opposed, 5 per cent who said they neither supported or opposed it and one per cent who did not know.
Ms Gillard has steadfastly insisted that only a party conference can change the existing party policy against marriage equality. Already the party rebels who are promoting a change in policy have engineered an early conference, which may ensure just that. All politicians like to win votes, and many in her party believe this was one of the issues that led to the party losing votes to the Greens in the last federal election.
Even if the conference does not vote to change policy, or if the opposition coalition can further delay what is rapidly becoming the inevitable, formal recognition for same sex couples will still come for many Australians, by the back door: several states have declared their intentions to introduce either full marriage equality, or near-marriage civil unions, at state level.
- Equality and inclusion advancing, worldwide. (Queering The Church)
- Australians Support Marriage Equality, Opposition Waning. (Queer Families)
- A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage (The Wild Reed)
- Civil Unions for Queensland: Fraser (Sydney Morning Herald)