Editor’s Let­ter

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE GQ -

For both sides of pol­i­tics, 2015 has been a roller-coaster ride with po­ten­tial lead­er­ship spills and a con­tentious bud­get re­flect­ing the job’s on­go­ing Machi­avel­lian na­ture. As Fed­eral Par­lia­ment is set to re­turn, I to­tally ap­pre­ci­ate the need to pri­ori­tise the big is­sues, but one still re­mains un­re­solved – one that’s al­ready been de­cided in the minds of most Aus­tralians. I’m talk­ing about mar­riage equal­ity. Re­cent polls have be­tween 68 and 75 per cent of the coun­try in favour of le­gal­is­ing gay mar­riage, and ad­vo­cacy group Aus­tralian Mar­riage Equal­ity be­lieves we’re only a few mem­bers short of a ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Day-by-day, more MPS are com­ing out, so to speak, to voice their re­formed stance on the is­sue. In­deed, Op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten’s in­ten­tion to in­tro­duce a same-sex mar­riage bill re­ceived an un­likely ad­vo­cate in broad­caster Alan Jones, who said two peo­ple who find love should be legally al­lowed to celebrate it. (Don’t worry, he also de­nounced Shorten as “bereft of ideas” and “un­electable”, so he’s not los­ing his touch.) In late May, no doubt the gov­ern­ment wit­nessed the out­pour­ing of joy in Ire­land, when con­stituents (both het­ero and ho­mo­sex­ual) voted over­whelm­ingly in a ref­er­en­dum to le­galise same-sex mar­riage. We too could do with a good ol’ dose of danc­ing in the streets to celebrate not another sport­ing vic­tory, but the hope we’re mov­ing to­wards a more lov­ing, in­clu­sive and pro­gres­sive coun­try. Same-sex mar­riage would be a rel­a­tively easy fix here in Aus­tralia – since it’s not a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue, we wouldn’t re­quire a costly ref­er­en­dum like Ire­land. Change the Mar­riage Act, which states mar­riage is ‘the union of a man and a woman to the ex­clu­sion of all oth­ers, vol­un­tar­ily en­tered into for life’, and we’re pretty much there. So why the hold up? The Greens, Lib­eral Democrats and La­bor have all pro­posed bills re­spec­tively, with Shorten’s the most telling. When he in­tro­duced it to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives barely any coali­tion mem­bers were present. While most likely a de­lib­er­ate ploy to be­lit­tle Shorten, the LGBT com­mu­nity took it as a slight against them and flooded so­cial media with pic­tures of the half-empty house. Not done there, coali­tion MPS ac­cused Shorten of politi­cis­ing the is­sue. It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that while Shorten was giv­ing his Mar­riage Act amend­ment speech, Tony Ab­bott was down the lo­cal Har­vey Nor­man, talk­ing bud­get mea­sures and small busi­ness needs. Sure, it’s a wor­thy topic, but there’s a time and a place, no? Still, we are get­ting closer. The re­sound­ing sup­port for mar­riage equal­ity in Aus­tralia is cou­pled with the fact that a de­voutly re­li­gious coun­try like Ire­land has seen the light, so surely it’s time we did too? The gov­ern­ment won’t al­low one sin­gle po­lit­i­cal party to take the ini­tia­tive on such a pos­i­tive change, es­pe­cially a party that isn’t theirs, so that in turn is driv­ing par­lia­ment to a de­ci­sion. Lately, the Prime Min­is­ter has def­i­nitely changed his tone, drop­ping ‘gay mar­riage’ from his vo­cab­u­lary, in favour of the all en­com­pass­ing ‘same-sex mar­riage’. He’s also recog­nised it as a ‘sig­nif­i­cant is­sue’, go­ing on record to say he wel­comes the de­bate. There’s even been ref­er­ence of a cross-party bill. Sub­text: ‘If we’re go­ing to do this, it’s go­ing to be on my terms.’ MPS will have had time to check in with their con­stituents to shape their fi­nal stances, mean­ing a de­ci­sion could come in Au­gust, should Lib­eral Party sup­port­ers call for a vote. Then, the scene would be set for the PM to grant the coali­tion a ‘free vote’, where he could still not vote in favour of the change to the Mar­riage Act, but al­low his mem­bers to vote as they please. As the only per­son in his fam­ily still op­posed to the change, it’s un­clear if he would sup­port mar­riage equal­ity – but wouldn’t that be some­thing? No one would have ever imag­ined same-sex mar­riage could be Tony Ab­bott’s defin­ing mo­ment in pol­i­tics – not The Greens, nor the Lib­eral Democrats, nor any mar­riage equal­ity ad­vo­cates – and prob­a­bly not even Ab­bott him­self. But who knows, it just might be. En­joy the is­sue,

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