I am an Australian. I am a business owner.
As an Australian business owner, I am unable to discriminate against gay people on the grounds that they are gay. If they wish to use my services, I can’t refuse them simply because they’re gay. If they apply for a job with me, I can’t refuse them simply because they’re gay. And yet the Australian government, which has made it illegal for me to discriminate against gay people, openly passed legislation in 2004 actively discriminating against gay people. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about! Prime Minister Howard’s amendments to the Marriage Act 1961. What I don’t understand is this:
- As a country, we are (by all accounts) headed for financial doom if we don’t tighten our collective belts.
- As a country, we are being encouraged on a daily basis to ‘be more inclusive’ and ‘embrace diversity’.
- As a country, we have one of the best and original gay mardi gras (mardis gras?) in the world.
- As a country, we have wonderful legislation helping protect minority groups from discrimination.
- As a country, we were a world leader in gun control legislation.
- As a country, we are, for the most part, looked upon by the rest of the world as mature, inclusive and forward thinking.
- Our current Marriage Act was amended by an act of parliament in 2004 without a plebiscite.
So, if you get a moment, could you please explain:
- Why do we need a very expensive plebiscite (during a time of financial restraint), which will probably fail, to overturn the archaic and discriminatory Marriage Amendment Act 2004 that was introduced by a 1950s-thinking parliament in contradiction of the very laws introduced by prior parliaments designed to prevent discrimination?
- Why do we, as a people, have to continue to suffer international humiliation for our backward-thinking legislation on marriage equality when all it would take would be a reversal of whatever happened in 2004 to make it right again?
As an ordinary Australian who knows many wonderful gay people, I can’t understand why they should be prevented from engaging in the same publicly-acknowledged and recorded life-long commitment that I’ve been able to enjoy. But what I find most difficult to understand is the fact that we, as a nation, enshrined in law an openly discriminatory attitude. How was that even allowed to happen?
Call me simple (you won’t be the first), but the way I see it there is only one way forward. Overturn the 2004 amendment. It won’t take long, it won’t cost much (certainly nowhere near as much as a likely-to-fail plebiscite!) and you might even win the next election as a result.
Go on, Mr Prime Minister. You know you want to …