Over on her blog, @Drag0nista (I’m still not sure of the etiquette in naming people on blogs) discusses Rudd’s rhetoric on marriage equality:
It was the first time my attention had been drawn to the careful positioning of Rudd’s support for same sex marriage. It was the first time I realised his support was not unequivocal. He gives the churches a free pass. […] It’s quite clever really. This positioning allows Rudd to present a modern, progressive face to some voters and a traditional, conservative face to another. [Source: Matthewson, P. ‘Rudd’s doublespeak on marriage equality’ Drag0nista’s Blog, 22 August 2013]
Although Drag0nista acknowledges the separation of Church and State issue — ‘I’m not suggesting that Rudd, his government, or any other government should impose same sex marriage on churches. I support the separation of Church and State.’ — she still finds the position duplicitous.
Which is odd.
First up, we should abandon the separation of Church and State. If a church decided not to allow people of different ethnic backgrounds to marry, there would be some very furrowed brows. The Church should be subordinate to the State, not given a special position as ‘separate’.
Second — and more relevantly to Drag0nista’s blog — we seem to have reached a meta-stage of the conversation where we don’t merely discuss what the various policies are, but we discuss the significance of how they’re presented. To communications people, this is a big deal. I get that. But to the rest of us interested in the bread and butter of policy qua policy, it seems strange to describe somebody as duplicitous simply because they don’t express a policy in precisely the way we might like.
Drag0nista’s point is that Rudd hasn’t taken the Jimmy Carter approach of trying to encourage churches to be less homophobic. There is some truth to this point: we should look to our leaders to be leaders both politically and socially. Rudd is walking the easy path by taking the lowest common denominator position: getting marriage equality into legislation without spooking the religious nutcase horses.
But that is an altogether separate issue beyond the question of his policy for what he’s going to do about marriage equality. In this sense, he is being clear: homosexuals will be able to marry in the same way that Catholics can’t get married in synagogues. If you can find somebody to marry you, you can get married. The won’t be a legislative hurdle.
What should offend us a whole lot more is that Rudd is once again offering a conscience vote. If parties will not agree to let every matter be a conscience vote, parties should not let marriage equality slide into the uncertain waters of conscience votes. If it’s party policy that marriage equality be supported, party members should vote accordingly. Simple.
- Rudd’s doublespeak on marriage equality (dragonistasblog.com)
- Gay marriage advocates welcome Kevin Rudd’s debate pledge, call for Coalition to back conscience vote (abc.net.au)
- PM Rudd makes gay marriage an Australian election issue (channelnewsasia.com)
- Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster says his view on marriage equality is shifting (abc.net.au)
- Australian PM Kevin Rudd Promises Marriage Equality in 100 Days if Elected: VIDEO (towleroad.com)
- Oz Prime Minister Promises to Introduce Gay Marriage Bill If Elected Back into Office (medindia.net)
- Australian PM Rudd Vows Gay Marriage Bill (thejakartaglobe.com)
- U.S. Ambassador To Australia Marries Longtime Partner (towleroad.com)