Focusing On the Positives
It is deeply disappointing that federal parliament has voted against marriage equality.
It feels like Australia’s national leaders are saying LGBTI people and our relationships are not of equal value.
But a very different picture emerges when we focus on the positives.
The number of federal politicians in favour of marriage equality has increased from six to seventy since the last vote in 2009.
Two thirds of those MPs who were free to vote for reform did so.
This means when the Coalition finally allows a conscience vote, we only need a third of Coalition MPs to vote for equality for it to pass.
With ever more Coalition MPs supporting marriage equality we will be close to having a third onside very soon.
So when you hear Tony Abbot say “show’s over, go home”, don’t be fooled.
He’s diverting attention from the fact he is the main obstacle to equality.
The reason for the gains we have made are simple.
The LGBTI community and our allies are united, we have highlighted how ordinary Australian couples and families will benefit, and we have maintained a strong presence for the issue in public debate.
I see no reason to alter an approach that has won us so much ground.
What will be new is a push from the states, with same-sex marriage laws now on the table in six states and territories.
The Tasmanian Upper House votes next week on whether to allow same-sex marriages.
NSW MPs are confident reform will pass in that state now that Premier Barry O’Farrell has allowed a Liberal conscience vote.
It’s quite likely we’ll see same-sex marriages somewhere in Australia by year’s end.
The support of hundreds of thousands of Australians has brought us to this point, and I salute you all.
But I want to single out Alex Greenwich, who has left the marriage equality front line to pursue a career in politics.
Alex's immense skills as an advocate, strategist and leader - his charm, charisma, energy, steady head and good heart - have helped move marriage equality from the edge of political debate to the centre.
Every Australian who has benefited from his hard work will wish him well for the future.