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The twisted priorities of the same-sex marriage vote

  • 21 August 2017


Same-sex marriage, the government tells us, is not a first-order issue. And yet it has grown to become a controversy so monumental it has overshadowed even the prospect of nuclear war with North Korea.

The Liberal Party has been in crisis over reforming the Marriage Act since long before the last election. At an emergency meeting, the Liberals made good on their threat to implement their own nuclear option: a voluntary postal survey on same-sex marriage. 

The prime minister rightly points out that once upon a time, Bill Shorten was also in favour of a public vote. Polls have shown consistent majority support for same-sex marriage for over ten years, but LGBTI Australians have opposed a plebiscite they know they can win in order to protect the most vulnerable in their community from a poisonous No campaign. To their credit, Labor and the Nick Xenophon Team listened to the people directly affected by a plebiscite, and now oppose it too.

But Malcolm Turnbull has not listened. Asked why the government is doggedly sticking with the plebiscite policy, he said it was a matter of carrying out an election promise. ‘Strong leaders carry out their promises,’ he said, ‘Weak leaders break them. I'm a strong leader.’

It was a cruel and bitter promise. He knew it then and he knows it now.

Right on cue, self-appointed Christian spokespeople have jumped out of the gate with everything LGBTI Australians knew they would: Conflating gay sex with bestiality, calling children raised by same-sex parents a ‘new stolen generation’ and comparing the Yes campaign to Nazis.

For queer Christians like me this campaign is an especially difficult cross to bear. Our extended LGBTI family is asking why Christians are championing such a pointed attack on queer people. I don’t have an acceptable answer. What kind of cruel god must these people follow to do this to us? And why would you, a gay man, follow that god?

Of course since at least 2011, average Christians have tended to support civil same-sex marriage too, but they have evacuated the public discourse, leaving room for cowboys who would hijack the gospel to prosecute their own political agenda.


"The postal survey isn’t binding—it was never meant to be. No matter who wins it will not satisfy either side."  

As Penny Wong said just after the postal survey became a political reality, it wouldn’t hurt as much if the prime minister were prepared to stand up and