Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 17 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Mariana of Jesus
home iconNews
line break icon

Australia Needs a Referendum on Redefining Marriage

Les Haines

Michael Cook - MercatorNet - published on 09/11/13

Supporters of same-sex marriage oppose a referendum on the issue in Australia - and it's because they know it would allow the issue to be robustly debated.

Same-sex marriage was a big loser in Australia’s election over the weekend. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sank beneath the waves with his rainbow colours nailed to the mast.

Rudd began his campaign to unseat the incumbent PM, Julia Gillard, back in May with a born-again conversion. He promised that he would introduce a bill within 100 days of being re-elected and made gay marriage a centrepiece of his pre-election campaigning. Astonishingly, on the very threshold of electoral annihilation, he gave an interview to The Australian in which he insisted that same-sex marriage was his Christian responsibility. "It was not simply a question about policy but about my fundamental qualifications to be called a Christian," he said.

Perhaps in Mr Rudd’s inner-city seat of Griffith in Brisbane fervour for same-sex marriage was running high. Perhaps outspoken support was an attempt to sandbag his own electorate rather than to appeal to all Australians. Perhaps it was an attempt to burnish his international reputation as a progressive.

Whatever the reason, the video of an indignant PM bullying a Christian pastor on television went viral, but it still didn’t float the boat. Rudd and his rainbow flag sank like a stone. Same-sex marriage may have provoked lots of fluttering on Twitter, but the electorate cared more about jobs, the deficit, controlling illegal immigration and simple administrative competence.

However, it would be a mistake for Australian supporters of marriage as the union of a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union – the traditional view of marriage – to be complacent. Tony Abbott’s victory has given them a reprieve, perhaps two or three years of breathing space, but no more.

1. Supporters of same-sex marriage will not cease campaigning to redefine marriage. The spokesman for the same-sex marriage lobby, Rodney Croome, has lost none of his sunny optimism. "In the lower house the number of declared supporters has increased from 42 to a likely 50, with more expected,” he says. “We are also pleased with the election of pro-equality Green and independent representatives in both houses. We’re hopeful of assembling a majority in the Senate." Another two years of lobbying might swing more MPs.

2. The outcome of a conscience vote in Federal Parliament is uncertain. Tony Abbott is unlikely to undergo Kevin Rudd’s conversion experience. Even though his own sister Christine is an outspoken lesbian, he insists that he supports the existing definition. He prides himself on his consistency and he has vowed to remain consistently opposed. However, he has said that he is open to a conscience vote in Parliament. It is hard to predict the outcome of a conscience vote in two or three years’ time. In Abbott’s own party there are a number of “progressives” and libertarians who support same-sex marriage.

3. What if Abbott is deposed? If Abbott is unseated, the principal contenders to succeed him are Malcolm Turnbull, a former Liberal leader, and Joe Hockey, the new Treasurer. Turnbull is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage. Hockey is opposed but without Abbott’s conviction.

4. The issue will not go away. Australia is only major English-speaking country where same-sex marriage is not legal. It is currently permitted in Canada, South Africa, England and Wales, and New Zealand. In the United States, only 13 states have legalised it. But on-going battles in the remaining ones will keep the issue simmering away in the newspapers. MPs in Australia will be under steady pressure to follow the trend.

For all these reasons, there must be a referendum to define marriage in the Australian constitution as the union of a man and a woman. It cannot be left up to Parliament.

  • 1
  • 2
Tags:
AustraliaFamilyHomosexuality
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
3
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
7
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.