real life

The majority of Australians want same-sex marriage. It's our politicians who don't.

Ian Thorpe

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).

Tony Abbott.

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.

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The ACL have used their sway to encourage members of parliament to represent their comparatively conservative views on marriage, instead of the views of the public who politicians were elected to represent. The organisation is incredibly powerful, attracting speakers from all major parties at its annual conferences and rising to extra prominence in election years.

The result of their lobbying and influence is that the Liberal National Coalition has a formal position of being anti-gay marriage; despite several party members like Malcolm Turnbull and Kelly O’Dwyer personally supporting change.

Jim Wallace.

Similarly, the Australian Labor Party’s policies aren’t always decided based on the majority or even the best interests of those who elected their parliamentarians.

In addition to the influence of the ACL, conservative trade unions can push their ‘anti-same-sex-marriage’ views within a progressive political party  — which means even if Australia had a Labor Government again; same sex marriage would be far from a given.

In short? All major parties have individuals with influence who aren’t elected representatives holding them back from moving marriage equality forward.

And it all comes down to religion. So let’s talk about religion, shall we?

61% of Australians identify as being Christians, with many of them in support of same-sex marriage. The Crosby Textor Poll mentioned earlier, also identified a majority of Australia’s Christian population as being in support of marriage equality.

This polling – which continues to show unequivocal majority support for same sex marriage from both Christians and non-Christians – proves that the influence of the Australian Christian Lobby on this matter is misplaced. Appeasing them might win a few votes – sure. But not appeasing them and legislating for same sex marriage? Well that could win a whole lot more voter love.

The evidence for change is right here in front of us — the Australian public want same sex marriage. In fact, Australia’s passionate support for marriage equality is incredible.  It is now up to the parliament to fulfil their duty. It’s time for them to represent the views of the majority of Australians, and make laws in our interests and not on the whims of an unelected lobby group.

Please share this post if you support marriage equality.

Charlotte is a 20 year old arts/law student from the ANU. She joined a political party for the free t shirts and has a deep love and appreciation for chocolate, tea and biscuits. Her aim in life is to have High Tea in every country she visits. She is also a serial baker.