When it was passed last year, the Queensland civil union scheme was a pretty massive step forward for the gay marriage debate in Australia. Anna Bligh’s Labor government managed to get the bill through despite the dual challenges of giving her MPs the choice of voting against the party on equality, AND the LNP leader Campbell Newman barring MPs from having a conscience vote of their own.
The argument from the Opposition at the time was that civil unions were a distraction from the real issues facing Queenslanders. They turned on a dime though once the bill was actually passed, and now seem to think that using parliament time to focus on civil unions again isn’t actually a waste of time after all.
Campbell Newman is kind of all over the place on this issue. His devolution on the issue has gone from supporting same sex marriage (making him just the second Liberal leader in the country to support equality, the other being SA’s Isobel Redmond) to opposing civil unions in Queensland but promising not to overturn them if couples had already become civil unioned, finally settling on a pledge to the Australian Not-So-Great-At-Being-Christian Lobby to repeal the civil unions.
Premier Anna Bligh decided not to dance to the ACL tune on civil unions, calling out Campbell Newman for pandering to the right wing lobby and dishonestly going back on his word. Good for her.
That the Australian Christian Lobby is opposed to civil unions demonstrates that they’re not concerned about family or marriage, really. It is about, and it always has been about, trying to punish and shame gays through discrimination in the law. DIscrimination that disadvantages those people they dislike so intensely, as well as their families, and that includes children. Civil unions are a politically expedient, second class, politically correct, totally bollocks option, but even that doesn’t go far enough to satisfying the LNP and the ACL nutters.
They don’t want to force gays to the back of the bus, they want them off the bus completely.
A few months ago, the idea of repealing civil unions when people had already entered into them would, according to Can-Do Campbell, “obviously be an unacceptable and intolerable situation for them, so in that scenario we wouldn’t be doing anything.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea that the government might sweep into your personal life and mandatorily divorce you from your partner against your will is offensive on about seventeen different levels. Even non-pole smokers like me must squirm uncomfortably at the thought. That, apparently, was Campbell Newman’s gut reaction to repealing civil unions as well.
But when the noxious fundies get their tentacles around you, I guess it’s hard to resist,
But addressing an ACL gathering in Brisbane on Sunday night, Mr Newman said “if we get into government and can (repeal the law), we will repeal it”.
Asked to clarify his position yesterday, Mr Newman said an LNP government would “look at repealing” the civil unions legislation but he did not want to leave anyone “in a legal limbo”.
Asked to clarify what he meant by a legal limbo, Mr Newman said: “What that means is that, exactly what it says. Look, I’ve answered the question, ladies and gentlemen.”
Clear as mud, Campbell.
Obviously, there’s a struggle between what he intuitively knows is right and the desire to court the right-wing fundamentalist “Christian” vote, and given the two choices he’s decided to gamble on the majority of the Queensland electorate still clinging to prejudice against gays. You’ll never go wrong appealing to the lowest common denominator, and you don’t get much lower than the ACL.
But what is the argument going to be this time around, if he does manage to win the March election? It’s difficult to imagine how they would manage to build a case for repealing civil unions when overwhelmingly the LNP line before they came into effect was that the Parliament had better things to be going on with. That was a pretty rubbishy nonsense line to begin with, resting on the assumption that people shouldn’t be concerned about the disrespect with which the law treats their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours.
Seriously, how are they going to mount a case for repealing civil unions?
If, as one LNP MP said in arguing against the civil unions, it’s true that civil unions won’t “ease cost of living pressures or it will not get our triple-A credit rating back,” how exactly will unravelling civil unions achieve those things?
Gay people are already raising children in huge numbers right across the state, and from the stats I’ve read they do a pretty great job of it. If they oppose civil unions on the basis that gay parenting is abusive to children, that immediately begs the question: Why would it be better for children being raised in same sex households if their parents are unable to give their relationship formal recognition?
Being a native South Australian and a nominal Victorian, I’m only vaguely aware of the whys and wherefores of Queensland politics, so perhaps there exists a logical argument against civil unions I haven’t yet heard. Does this make any sense to actual Queenslanders?