A few weeks ago I had a piece on Dandy asking the question, "Are we closer to marriage equality with Kevin Rudd?":
For the first time in our history, Australia now has a Prime Minister who supports marriage equality. While we should rightly celebrate this, we should also not think for a moment that Australia is any closer to marriage equality today than we were two weeks ago when Julia Gillard was still Prime Minister. Indeed, while some in the Labor Party are starting to see marriage equality as a vote-winning issue in the lead up to the federal election, there remains much to be sceptical of when it comes to seeing any of this result in positive legislative or policy change, as opposed to exploiting this issue for political opportunism and grandstanding.
At Kevin Rudd’s first press conference since being reinstated as Prime Minister, he reminded us all that he was the first Australian head of government to support marriage equality. While it is possibly unfair to observe that he onlyrelatively recently had the epiphany that allowed his views on same-sex marriage to “evolve” (a hopelessly patronising turn of phrase that seems to have become accepted in political circles around the world as the appropriate way to excuse prior bigotry and homophobia), it also seems somewhat convenient that he had this change of heart after he voted against same-sex marriage and while he was politicking behind the scenes to once again become Prime Minister.
However, assuming – and hoping – that Kevin Rudd’s decision to belatedly support marriage equality was genuine and heartfelt, we now need to ensure that his policy positions matches his public rhetoric. After all, having a Prime Minister that personally supports marriage equality will not, in and of itself, do anything to secure equality and advance LGBTIQ rights in this country.
Unfortunately, Kevin Rudd’s policy positions on marriage equality so far have been underwhelming, if not flawed and possibly counter-productive. He has indicated that in his opinion whoever wins at the next election, both major parties should “have the civility to open this to a conscience vote for all.” While a conscience vote is better than nothing at all, that is a still inchoate position, when he should be pushing for a change in the Labor Party platform so that all Labor Members of Parliament are required to vote for marriage equality.
Read the rest of my piece here.