Ian Thorpe’s revelation that he is gay, has spurred on a country of people who, overwhelmingly, want same-sex marriage to be legalised. Right now, support for marriage equality in Australia is higher than it has ever been. According to the most recent Crosby Textor Poll, 72% of Australians support same sex marriage.
It’s the Thorpedo effect. And like Thorpe himself? It’s big, fast and strong.
The big question now, is this: If we all want it – why isn’t same sex marriage happening?
Members of Parliament are elected on the votes of the majority of people in their electorate. The party that manages to achieve the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, gets the chance to form a Government. The reasoning behind that? The governing party supposedly represents the views of the majority of Australians.
So with 72 percent of us – a whopping great majority – believing that same-sex marriage should be Australian law. How come the parliament isn’t passing a bill to that effect this very second? How come there aren’t more politicians standing up and demanding that the desperate desire of so many Australians isn’t acted upon?
The reason? Is this. There are lobby groups lurking in the shadows of politics, wielding influence over how Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten and the members of their parties vote. We hear everyday about the ‘faceless men’ who aren’t particularly visible in political parties but have a significant say on parties’ internal machinations; but there are also faceless men who aren’t in the parliament or connected to the parties at all.
They belong to external groups which hold serious sway over the policy direction of the major parties. The sheer scale of their influence is frightening.
And the organisation who have, perhaps, the greatest power over our parliamentarians in the gay marriage debate? Are the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
The current Deputy Chairman of the ACL, Jim Wallace, has often spoken out that he believes “homosexuality is a sin” and regularly champions Tony Abbott’s anti-same-sex marriage policy. It doesn’t seem right that an unelected individual like Wallace can hold that much power – but he does.
The general political consensus is that the ACL can influence the sermons given in churches across the country each week and that this translates directly to voting behaviour. Politicians care about what the ACL says because ultimately, the ACL help determine what happens at the ballot box.