First, I want to thank all you out there for your patience during this unscheduled hiatus. Over the past few weeks, I’ve moved neighbourhoods (swapping Redfern for Darlinghurst) and now come across a bit of a bad trot health-wise.
Now onto the fun!
You know, I was eager to rip into Penny Wong with regards to her bizarre choice of toeing the party-line with gay marriage, but let’s start out with something uplifting…Antoine Dodson.
The sudden interne celebrity rise of Dodson first made me think that this would be yet another case of inner-city crime turned into hipster fodder, but actually, I’m quite pleased to find that higher profile is helping raise funds for him and his family via the iTunes auto-tuned version. (Buy it!)
Now, Ms. W®ong.
I think she’s done her soul a serious disservice by supporting the party line, but I think it’s also important for those not familiar with Australia to know a few things about the gay marriage debate in Oz.
In Australia, more than in the US, it’s ultimately a debate over the word “marriage.” Australia is one of the least religious countries in the Western world, and the idea of “shacking up” is not as frowned upon. Both gays and straights use the word “partner” to refer to their significant others.
What we Americans call “common law” marriages are called “de facto relationships.” These de facto partnerships effectively are equal to married couples in all the states and territories. For example, unlike the US which would require marriage for an American to stay with their foreign partner, the foreign born partner of an Australian can remain in Australia under the interdependency/de facto visa scheme (which interestingly enough is the same visa that many Australian men used for mail-order brides).
The interesting thing in Australia is that the popularity of de facto partnerships along with the Australian sense of fairness has led to a majority of Australians supporting same-sex marriage in poll after poll. So it really is an argument over a word, and in my opinion the government should either get out of the marriage business or declare civil unions (and de facto partnerships) for all. *
The religious argument that often colours the same sex marriage debate in the US and other countries doesn’t really hold much water in Australia. Case in point: a Family First senatorial candidate in Queensland has gotten a serious public bollocking in the media for homophobic tweets comparing same-sex marriage to child abuse. Queensland has a strong redneck reputation. It’s where Pauline Hanson (she who would gladly have the White Australia policy back and the Apology to the Stolen Generation rescinded) is from. If those comments don’t work in Queensland, they don’t work in Australia full stop. It’s also worth noting that a majority of Queenslanders also support same-sex marriage.
While my partner & I have considerably more legally enforced rights in Australia as a same sex couple than in the US, I am hesitant to paint the Antipodes as LGBT paradise. Why? Well, in New South Wales we have a bizarre law from 2000 which prohibits same-sex couples from adopting, but not LGBT individuals. This restriction may be lifted this month, as the Premier is going to allow a conscience vote on the issue.
The light at the end of the tunnel may very well be in sight.