Conscience vote spells desertion from progressive left

It’s just gone two o’clock in the afternoon as ten thousand of us cram into the opening between the Sydney Convention Centre and the harbour, beneath the strong summer sun some of us have began to burn slightly, those without sunglasses are developing headaches. On the balcony above there press observe interestedly, while below the event conveners are waiting for the tail of the march to arrive at the enclosure. Growing restless some chants recommence from different pockets of the crowd until finally one begins to spread and unify: a monotonous, threatening drone of “Juuuuuuliaaaaaaaaaaa, Juuuuuuuuuliaaaaaaaaa.”

I’ve been to several Marriage Equality rallies over the past three years; as far as rallies go they have been thoroughly pleasant. A concerted effort has been made to endear the lobby to the public, they aren’t angry masses, they are warm and cuddly, nice men and men and women and women who just want to sanctify their love. We’ve had faux marriage ceremonies and which couples proudly declare that no government or religious lobby will tell them that their love is any less real, their have been charming singalongs of iconic gay anthems like Savage Garden’s “Affirmation” and their has been the incorporation of the “It’s get better” campaign for young gays suffering depression.

But yesterday was different, the good nature that had permeated the campaign for years had existed under the impression that the ALP was gradually building in the right direction and after months of Labor Party heavyweights like Mark Arbib, Anthony Albanese, Anna Bligh and Stephen Smith lining up in favour of the reform yesterday was meant to be the culmination of their efforts. But it wasn’t, a conscience vote resolution left them with a tokenistic values statement from the party and no tangible change in their legal status whatsoever. They were no longer having fun, they were angry, they were impatient, they felt betrayed.

Up until this point advocates of marriage equality tended to join in an uncomfortably alliance with the ALP with whom they shared many objectives and goals; but now the strain on the relationship has hit a previously unrealized tension. The applause for Anthony Albanese and Mark Butler as they proudly declared their intention to vote yes when the conscience vote finally reached the floor of the House of Representatives should not be mistaken for a tolerance of the ALP, the real hero for the masses was Sarah Hanson-Young who proudly reiterated the longheld position of the Australian Greens in support of Same-sex marriage. This government has done as it has often done, attempted to appease both sides of a debate and ended up with the support of neither, it should dearly hope its attempts to lurch to the right pay dividends with right wing and centralist voters because socially progressive left are fed up, they are angry and they are flocking to the Greens.


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