Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 17, 2011

Thursday, 17th February 2011 – on ‘same sex’ marriages and the like!

I must be struggling for something to write about today, to find it necessary to resort to a comment or two about this subject. But in raising the issue, I was initially thinking in terms of ‘rumblings’ in the media about discord arising within the Liberal Party over one or items in recent days, eg, Tony Abbott’s response to Channel 7 over his ‘Shit happens’ remark to defence personnel over in Afghanistan last year, or the comments about refugees & children in detention [see yesterday’s blog], and now, this question of redesigning the definition of ‘marriage’!

I was making reference the other day to the beginnings of a few rumblings of ‘disagreement’ on one or two matters of national concern, eg, refugees, within the Liberal Party, and while the leading group there sticking together and denying any frictions, I personally feel it’s not a bad thing for members of the various political parties to feel they have the right to express their own viewpoints occasionally, as long as this is not taken to the degree where it does cause major problems for the existing leadership, etc, and we suddenly find for example, that Tony Abbott, as leader, is having his role challenged – as occurred to his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, at the end of 2009 over the climate change debate.

With that in mind, there recently came to my attention another opinion of a senior Liberal at odds with the party’s hardline policy – on the question of gay marriage. As reported in ‘The Australian’ on the 10th February, Deputy Liberal Party leader Julie Bishop has declared she is willing to listen to the views of her electorate when she considers her vote on gay marriage if legislation came before the parliament with a conscience vote, breaking ranks with her party’s hard line. Ms Bishop has been conducting an online poll through her website, which shows overwhelming support for gay marriage — but she says that views in her community are more evenly split. Speaking to the newspaper, Ms Bishop said that  “I’ve got a very open mind on this. Kerryn Phelps has been to see me a few times and, personally, I’ve been listening to people’s views,” “Once I’ve seen any legislation, I’ll canvass the views of my electorate. If  it is a conscience vote, I’ve got an open mind on how I’d vote,”. She said she voted for the Howard government’s ban on gay marriage in 2004 but views in the community were mixed now.  Her website poll has been conducted since December 9 and by yesterday had collected 1024 votes. Those who say they strongly support gay marriage are 80 per cent, with 10 per cent saying they are strongly against. Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull is also canvassing voters on the issue, launching a survey on his website. Mr Turnbull’s poll has returned 68 per cent support for marriage equality. Mr Turnbull wrote on his website: “This survey is important as community views on marriage and the legal status of same-sex relationships are rapidly changing.”

Mind you, this cannot really be claimed as working in opposition to party policy. When Adam Bandt, the Greens MP began  a push  on his election to Parliament last year, to legally recognise same-sex marriage, by getting through a successful motion asking MPs to consult on the issue,  the general view was that parliamentarians of all sides should get out there and seek the views of their electorates. It was obvious that if a straight out vote had of been conducted at that time, there would have been no change to the existing legislation. But as Adam Brandt noted in Canberra last week,  “But change gets brought about by instances like this — people going back and revisiting issues that previously they might have had a different view on.” Mr Bandt said he hoped Labor would reconsider its policy, which stands by the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, at its national conference.

 As a further impetus, if you like, to the ‘cause’, the Australian Marriage Equality group and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) spent last week in Canberra in meetings with more than 30 MPs from both major parties. They are stressing the importance of gay marriage equality to families, couples, gay and lesbian youth, and from a rights perspective’. I must admit that I have not chased up the outcome of those gatherings, as it is not something that is of particular weight personally on my mind.  As I think I have mentioned in other forums occasionally, I don’t agree with the definition of same sex relationship as been called a ‘marriage’  – quite happy for such relationships to have the same rights and benefits as a marriage between man and woman, but by my definition through my upbringing in the Christian church is that the status quo is the only appropriate definition for the use of the word marriage. Nevertheless, I am realistic enough to realistic enough to be fully aware that will eventually change, and Adam Brandt and others will get their wishes.

 

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