Monday, 12 December 2011

Alex Greenwich SPEAKS NOW

Alex Greenwich, the National Convenor of the very effective lobby group, Australian Marriage Equality, has drawn attention to the successes achieved during the campaign of 2011.  He also recommends some courses of action we can take to keeping this issue alive...

Thank you for your support throughout 2011, together we have achieved the following:

1. Changed the ALP Platform to support marriage equality
2. Gained the Tasmanian and ACT Government's endorsement of Marriage equality
3. Had same-sex marriages counted and recognisged in the Census for the first time

4. CNIs being issued to same-sex couples wishing to marry overseas

As this
unstoppable momentum continues into the new year we now need to help Coalition MPs wo open their hearts and minds to the importance of marriage equality.
We know Coalition leaders like Barry O'Farrell, Barnaby Joyce, Malcolm Turnbull and SA Leader Isobel Redmond all want MPs in their party to be allowed a conscience vote to reflect the strong public support for marriage equality. 

Shortly we will be announcing our exciting plans for 2012, but in the mean-time follow the below links to help make a difference now:

Sign the petition calling on Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote
2. Contact Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop directly and request the coalition grants a conscience vote
3. Email all your MPs and Senators asking them to support reform.

We will enter the new year confident that we have the support of a majority of Australians and progress on our side!

Thanks you for your continued support,
Alex Greenwich

Monday, 5 December 2011

Rodney Croome SPEAKS NOW...

Rodney Croome, leading rights activist and contributor to SPEAK NOW, comments on the recent political developments...

There was a mixed outcome from Saturday’s Labor National Conference debate on marriage equality.
On the one hand the Labor Party made history by adopting a policy in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.
This is a first for a major Australian political party and reversed the party’s anti-equality position adopted only seven years ago.
But the ALP also voted to give Labor members the right to vote against that policy should their conscience compel them to.
With Labor holding a wafer-thin majority in Parliament this means a marriage equality has no chance unless the Coalition also allows a conscience vote.
The 10,000-strong rally that converged on the Conference after the vote wasn’t sure to cheer or boo, so it did both.
But if there is one unambiguous message from the Conference it is that the campaign for marriage equality is working.
Up until the last election there was only a handful of Labor MPs willing to back marriage equality.
Fifteen months later it is supported by all but one state Labor leader, all but one state Labor conference, two state Labor governments, most federal Labor ministers, and now the Labor National Conference.
Even a conscience vote is, in its own way, a success.
Until just a few months ago a national civil union scheme was the preferred fall-back position for many Labor decision-makers.
But that option would have cut off progress on marriage equality, whereas a conscience vote at least provides a way forward.
Beneath these changes lies a more fundamental shift in community attitudes, with support for marriage equality rising from 38% in 2004 to 65% today.
All these rapid and important changes come down to the effectiveness of the marriage equality movement.
What makes it so effective is
a)     its emphasis on the power of personal stories in changing the hearts and minds of those conflicted about marriage equality (the popular It’s Time Get Up ad encapsulates this)
b)    its use of social media to translate popular support for reform into letter-writing and petitioning campaigns that, for the first time in Australia, are bigger than those organised by the churches
c)     its achievements of small but encouraging victories along the way (eg counting same-sex married couples in the Census and removing the ban on the documents same-sex couples need to marry overseas)
d)    its ability to learn from the mistakes of campaigns overseas (for example, not allowing civil unions to become an acceptable substitute for marriage equality)
e)     its cooperative and cohesive spirit when compared to many of the fractious and divided marriage equality movements in other countries
There are many challenges ahead for marriage equality supporters.
It is uncertain if Tony Abbott will allow a conscience vote, and even if he does, it is uncertain if there are the numbers for marriage equality to pass.
The issue may require more than one vote to pass, as was the case in New York earlier this year.
But if the ALP National Conference tells us anything it is that we are on the right track.
Our campaigning has made marriage equality possible, and in the minds of many, inevitable. The next step is to make it happen.
Rodney Croome is the Campaign Director of Australian Marriage Equality
To find out more about AME go to

Sunday, 4 December 2011

ALP changes its policy, but...

At the ALP's national conference on Saturday Dec. 3rd, Party delegates endorsed, on voices, an amendment to the party's platform to amend the Marriage Act and allow gay and lesbian people to marry their same-sex partners.

However, following Prime MInister Julia Gillard's lead, they voted 208 to 184 in favour of her motion  to allow state and federal MPs a conscience vote on gay marriage, meaning that if a Bill is introduced into Federal Parliament, representatives will not be bound by Party policy, but will be free to vote according to their own lights.

How much is an individual's conscience a reliable guide to legislating other peoples' rights?

As John Faulkner said, governments don't grant human rights, they recognise them. To give such a matter over to a conscience vote is unconscionable.

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, a contributor to SPEAK NOW,  moved the motion to change the platform and, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, he received a standing ovation as he put the 'yes' case.  'We deserve the respect and the dignity afforded to others,' he said. 'We deserve equality.'

Joe de Bruyn of the Right faction re-asserted the definition of marriage as 'the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life', claiming that that 'It has always been that way since the dawn of humanity.'

On another issue, Julia Gillard also held sway and successfully argued that the Labor Party should lift its ban on uranium sales to India!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

SPEAK NOW for Marriage Equality

Australian Marriage Equality rally on Saturday 3rd Dec., from 12 noon, in Sydney's Hyde Park.

The rally, which has the support of the City of Sydney, will move from Hyde Park North to the Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. 

It's a critical time to speak up; after months of lobbying, the long-awaited National Conference of the ALP is poised to consider either adopting a binding policy in favour of equality or, following the lead of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to permit politicians to vote according to their conscience on this issue. 

As Tim Wright has written in his contribution to SPEAK NOW:
   Julia Gillard’s ascension to the Labor Party leadership in June 2010 briefly raised hopes that reform to the Marriage Act was finally within our grasp. A declared atheist and (at least nominally) a member of the party’s left faction, she has the pedigree of a marriage equality supporter. Indeed, in 2006, she launched a book that I edited titled Time for Change: Australia in the 21st Century, which rejected many of the Howard Government’s policies, including its opposition to same-sex marriage. But it was not to be. The new prime minister declared her support for the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage shortly after assuming the top job, which bewildered progressives and would plague her during the August election campaign.

It became apparent during that campaign that Ms. Gillard was not prepared  to 'move forward' (her election slogan) on marriage equality, content instead to position Australia to the rear of advanced nations such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, and recently, Brazil, as well as some states in the U.S. (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, D.C., New York) all of which have changed their relevant laws to allow equality.  Since that time Ms. Gillard has relied heavily on the plank in the Party platform that privileges opposite sex partnerships and the Australian Christian Lobby continues to run a fearful campaign to defend the conventional arrangement.

You can e-mail your Federal Labor rep. through this site: