I was recently shown this image and told of comments made by Australian comedian Josh Thomas, about the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s stance against marriage equality.
In light of the Private Member’s Bill for marriage equality from Green’s MP Adam Bandt, currently before Parliament and due to be voted on on June 6th, I’d like to point out a couple of things.
If you live in a democratic nation, of the free first world, then every single person in your country has the same rights to their own beliefs. If these beliefs become a matter of politics, in the case of same sex marriage, then the politicians voting on these issues are also allowed to have their own personal beliefs, just as their constituents do. They are also allowed to have whatever basis for their beliefs that they like.
While Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Labor Party, and therefore her views do carry some kind of weight in the minds of other politicians, she is also entitled to her own opinion.
What is my point you may ask? Julia Gillard is not solely, or personally responsible for Australia not having granted marriage equality yet. Her views are not what is stopping this nation from passing that law.
The Labor Party have had a conscience vote on the matter of marriage equality for quite some time now, which allows all MP’s of the party to vote on the issue in alignment with their own conscience and they do not have to follow party lines. The Coalition on the other hand, do not have a conscience vote. Not only this, but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, has publically announced that his party will not consider a conscience vote, nor a shift in party policy, until after the September elections – despite evidence that there are a number of Shadow Cabinet Ministers on his front bench, that would support a law for marriage equality were they allowed to vote for it.
This issue has been back in the news of late, due to the impending vote on Bandt’s Bill, and the recent announcement from Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he has ‘had a change of heart’, and will be voting to support marriage equality in June. He also stated that if the politicians of Australia could not sort this out, and that if the Coalition were not allowed a conscience vote, then the matter should be taken to the people to decide, via referendum – an idea which has been introduced recently by Independent MP Tony Windsor.
In all honesty, this was just a bit of a rant on my behalf. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it is however the role of politicians to listen to their constituents and to take those views to Parliament.
A politician’s job is to serve the people that elect them.
On the issue of marriage equality, it is obvious that this is a personal issue addressing, for a lot of people, some very core beliefs. However, it is also obvious, with polls to illustrate it, that over 60% of the Australian population does support marriage equality.
So my message is not to crucify Julia Gillard for her personal beliefs, unless you are also going to crucify every other Labor politician that voted no.
Labor politicians need to get out there and talk to the people of their constituency, and understand what it is that they want. Coalition politicians need to be able to vote with their conscience as Labor politicians are, and should then also go out and talk to their constituents.
If this really is something that the Australian population wants, then there should be increased pressure on our politicians, whoever they are, to act out their voter’s wishes.