From the Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 7, 2013
A CONSERVATIVE prime minister( David Cameeron of Britain) has stared down critics in his own party, allowed a conscience vote and is now on the cusp of introducing equal marriage rights for gay couples in England and Wales.
Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons has Australian activists asking: Why not here?
When all this is over and my son has the same rights as everybody else, they’ll all be wondering what all the bloody fuss was about.
Assuming the House of Lords will also vote in favour, Britain will join the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and several states of the US in allowing same-sex marriage.
The Greens on Wednesday reintroduced a bill to grant equal marriage rights in Australia. It will fail as did the two previous bills last year. It will fail despite poll after poll showing people are relaxed about changing the definition of marriage. It will fail because nothing much has changed in mainstream politics.
Last year Labor MPs were allowed a conscience vote (although the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is personally against the change) but Coalition MPs were not.
Gay marriage is a simple question of maths. There are not enough Labor, Greens and independent MPs in favour and Coalition MPs vote along party lines.
Some of the most persuasive in the gay marriage movement are parents advocating for change because they don’t want their children deprived of the right to marry whomever they love.
Last year I spoke to Geoff Thomas. The former Vietnam vet recounted his journey of confronting his prejudices about homosexuality when his son came out to him. Thomas is now a vocal campaigner for change and makes the point that Australian politicians have been left behind by public opinion.
”The biggest obstacle to equal rights for gays and lesbians is their own Parliament,” he told me.
”The people are way ahead. When all this is over and my son has the same rights as everybody else, they’ll all be wondering what all the bloody fuss was about.”