We have always stood for equality. Throughout our party’s history successive Labor governments have sought to achieve this by helping people overcome disadvantages based on social class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, cultural background and racial prejudice. We have always pursued the fair go, tolerance and respect. We oppose all attempts to divide Australians by pandering to prejudice.
Labor’s National Platform
Marriage equality marks for me a major milestone in a quest I have been actively pursuing for 40 years now: equality. I am voting Labor because Labor stands for equality.
Overcoming the prejudices of the past has taken many years and much hard work by countless activists. Criminal law reform, equal opportunity reform, recognition of our families and our relationships: for over thirty years the Labor Party has played a crucial role in supporting and generating progress. At each stage in the journey towards equality Labor has been our friend and ally, and the Coalition parties have opposed us, almost without exception.
That we now have both a Labor Prime Minister and a Labor Party Platform expressly committed to marriage equality is a cause for celebration, and for redoubling our efforts to make sure that Labor is re-elected.
As I told the Sunday Age recently, marriage equality is both symbolic and meaningful. For the very many couples locked out of marriage by Howard’s amendments to the Marriage Act nine years ago it is deeply meaningful, a matter of great emotional importance. Although not everyone wants to get married, everyone deserves the right to choose. Denying to people who love each other the choice to be married is a denial of their humanity, a profound and humiliating insult.
Not allowing LGBTI Australians to get married is a symbol of all the past prejudices that denied us our human dignity. It stands as a barrier and blockage on the road to equality, and freedom. Removing that bar is essential to progress towards the goal of a society without homophobia and other prejudices. Important though marriage equality is, it is only one more step towards the “light on the hill,” the full realization of our human rights as equal members of society.
The importance of marriage equality for this election is more direct. Labor’s Platform commitment is to “amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage…irrespective of sex.” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd supports that commitment. He will support a bill to make it happen in the new parliament’s first 100 days. These facts remind voters of the crucial difference between the major parties. Labor’s commitment to marriage equality is in the Platform chapter on “A fair go for all Australians.” So this issue is not just a 'tick the box' one. It actually speaks to values. Australian values. Labor values.
Marriage equality is about equality, about the “fair go” that is fundamental to Australians’ belief in themselves. Opposition to it is saying NO to the fair go. As I told the Sunday Age, “This issue is now a major point of difference between the two leaders in this election.” And between the two contenders for government.
Of the two, only Labor is the party of equality, of the fair go. Only a vote for Labor will bring a bill for marriage equality in the next term.
When I signed up at itstimeformarriageequality.org.au, this is what I wrote: "I want to end marriage discrimination in Australia because respect for human dignity demands it."
It’s what I know, and I ask you to join me, and to tell your friends.