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The Forum > Article Comments > Parliamentarians should have a conscience vote on gay marriage > Comments

Parliamentarians should have a conscience vote on gay marriage : Comments

By Rodney Croome, published 1/11/2010

For often perverse reasons our parliamentary institutions have failed to keep pace with public opinion on gay marriage.

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"Parliamentarians should have a conscience vote on gay marriage"

No, let's put it to a referendum.

Convince the government to put it up and let the people have a conscience vote.

After all, the parliamentarians are merely reflecting their constituencies views aren't they.

So if you are having trouble getting it up there, then simply go to the people, it should be easy surely since you're poll of 1052 people gave you the result which you believe is reflective of Australian opinion.

Why do lobby groups go so hard at politicians on things like this?

They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. It's their career after all, the way they pay their mortgage and even if privately they agree with you, publicly it would be political suicide in Australia. Why, because the poll was crafted to get this response.

"A number of countries allow same-sex couples to marry. These include Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Spain, as well as parts of the United States and Mexico.

Do you agree or disagree that same-sex couples in Australia should be able to marry?"

It's clever framing of the question - I wonder what the responses would have been like if you had not framed it in that manner and just asked the question?

Why do you think it was necessary to have the little pre-amble to give the pollee the message that to disagree would be unusual, or negative? No one wants to be negative when being asked by a stranger, that's why polls always come back favorable with this sort of construct.

You commissioned a poll, to essentially get the result you got, and wonder why there are people who doubt it? Don't be so tricky, people don't like to be conned like this.

Get someone independent to do a poll, with no "push" and see how you go.

I can't see a government ever going against the essentially conservative wishes of the Australian public.
Posted by Amicus, Monday, 1 November 2010 11:43:56 AM
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> > No, let's put it to a referendum.

This suggestion comes up quite regularly in relation to equality for same-sex couples. On the face of it, a referendum sounds like a good idea ... get some direct democracy going, let the people decide, that would be fair, right?

Wrong.

Itís very easy for people who already have equal rights to argue that someone elseís equality should be put to a referendum, but thatís not how it works. Equality belongs to human beings because they are human, not because the majority says they can have it. Pause a while over the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

ďAll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience
and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.Ē
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Weíre born with equal rights. Heterosexual couples didnít have to beg their fellow citizens for equality, so Iíll need some convincing that I should.

Hereís a delightfully whimsical Irish take on the same notion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ULdaSrYGLQ
Posted by woulfe, Monday, 1 November 2010 12:42:36 PM
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The case for the right of lesbian and gay people to be able to marry if they wish is, above all else, one of acquiring equality of human rights. It is not marrying a same-sex partner that is important, as not all lesbian and gay people would marry given the right to do so. The same is true for heterosexuals. It is the right to choose to marry someone who is loved and for that choice to be recognised as a legal and equal partnership by society that is significant.

Even though recent polls show majority support for lesbian and gay marriage this should not be the only arbiter, which brings such an arrangement into law. Politicians have a bigger job than just following the wishes of a majority. They are duty bound to make laws for the country, which are compassionate, fair and take into account all the facts. If long-standing traditional prejudice is usurped by greater understanding then it can no longer be used as fact.

Informed people without a particular axe to grind recognise that homosexuality is not a chosen state. It is innate in character the same as is heterosexuality. The ability to marry demonstrates that as a society we have matured beyond old preconceptions formulated in times of ignorance. Human sexuality is a wide spectrum and lesbian and gay people are a part of it, no less than any other.

There is a new web site just up and running, The Potential Wedding Album, which puts a human face on this topic. It contains photos and stories of couples and messages of support from those who recognise the injustice. http://www.thepotentialweddingalbum.org/

Take a look. It could change the way you think.

David
Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Monday, 1 November 2010 1:21:21 PM
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What if the parliament are a lot of homophobics?
Will that usher in the day of liberation? Like hell.
socratease
Posted by socratease, Monday, 1 November 2010 2:34:59 PM
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"Itís very easy for people who already have equal rights to argue that someone elseís equality should be put to a referendum, but thatís not how it works"

Yes it is .. or there would be gay marriage now

I love being told to go look at a UN site, the organization which has what, half it's member's leaders are despots and tyrants?

Who is on the Human Rights committee right now? Have a look, see how many of them support gay marriage in their own countries.

Australia is not subject to UN charters, agreements or such unless we feel like it.

It's optional, not binding.

Mind you if the UN wants to pass a resolution to agree to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, suddenly people don't want to quote UN resolutions, do they?

I'm of the school of thought that we should not sign up to any UN instrument at all without a referendum.

It's a bloody cheek the way various lobby and self interest groups sneak around lobbying to sign this or that, then waving it in our faces saying, "but Australia has signed up to x or y"

Throw them all out and put them to a democratic vote.

Sounds like you're not overly happy with that process, and want a different process.

What's up .. wasn't the "poll" good enough to convince you to go to the people? Surely it would be a lay down mezzaire?

"Weíre born with equal rights", in your dreams .. have a look around the world, it's a nice ideal but not reality.

It will happen eventually, but don't do it in such a way that makes it look like you are being tricky and deceitful, it will only delay the process. Don't quote UN regs, we all know they are meaningless.
Posted by Amicus, Monday, 1 November 2010 3:48:00 PM
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Woulfe, I would agree on the right in principle;

But to make it actually happen, it's either the public (who stand a good chance of being mostly liberal towards Gay Marriage and see no problem with it) in a referendum;

Or- you have a handful of politicians- who are likely going to pander to extreme fringe-dwelling minorities to ensure their swinging vote;

Make your choice.
Posted by King Hazza, Monday, 1 November 2010 6:28:12 PM
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