Whither same sex law reform?
Now that it appears that we have a hung Parliament, let’s see if the issue of removal of discrimination against same sex people, and in particular the topic of same sex marriage, gets any traction.
During the course of the campaign, from recollection the first town hall meeting, Julia Gillard made plain her and the ALP’s position of being opposed to same sex marriage. On the other side of the chamber, probably the most notable statement was made by Tony Abbot’s religious mentor, Cardinal George Pell, in opposition to the Greens and how their election would give legitimacy to homosexual relationships.
But the question may need to be faced- will the tail wag the dog? Will the Greens policy on this topic be enough to persuade the ALP to change its mind? It is clear that the Greens seek same sex marriage. Senator Hanson-Young made plain this morning that she saw part of the attraction by voters to the highest vote ever to the Greens being to the policy on same sex marriage.
As current predictions go, either side needs 76 seats to govern, but Labor on the current count appears likely to get 71 and the coalition 72, with 3 outstanding. Then there is the disparate group of the five other members: 4 independents and 1 Green:
- The first Green member of the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt, will be pushing for same sex marriage.
- Tony Windsor, Bob Katter Jr and Rob Oakeshott are all ex National Party members, before taking the less travelled road of being independents.
- Andrew Wilkie is likely to be elected as an independent MP from Tasmania. A former Office of National Assessments officer who resigned in 2003 over the war in Iraq, and a former Greens candidate, he has pledged his position in favour of same sex marriage.
Then there is the question of the Senate. There was a half Senate election this time around. The old Senate remains in place until July. Until then, the Greens plus Nick Xenophon and Family First’s Steve Fielding have had the balance of power. Or to put it correctly, for Labor to have legislation passed it needs all 3 minor players, but for the Coalition, it only needs one.
It seems clear now that Steve Fielding will be gone (by July), but it would appear to be replaced by a member from the DLP. For those who don’t know, the Democratic Labor Party was born of the split in the ALP in the 50’s. Its members tended to be conservative and Catholic. The last DLP Senator was during the Whitlam government.
However, the prediction of noted election pundit Malcolm Mackerras was that Labor and the Greens will control the Senate.
These are interesting times. Whether they lead to the removal of discrimination is another matter entirely.