Go to Top

Rainbow Labor’s marriage equality push

rainbow laborlrg

LABOR’S gay group – Rainbow Labor – will launch a national campaign to promote pro-gay-marriage MPs and senators and lobby for those who are willing to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in a bid to make the issue a key election theme.

The strategy is copied from Britain where campaigners did the same thing to build support and expose non-supporters.

Rainbow Labor spokeswoman and WA Labor senator Louise Pratt told The Australian all Labor candidates and sitting parliamentarians would be sent a survey to declare where they stood on marriage equality and the results would be published by the group.

The move comes after the French parliament legalised same-sex marriage after months of bruising debate and street protests that brought hundreds of thousands to Paris. The 331-225 vote came in the Socialist majority National Assembly.

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said the first weddings could be as soon as June.

Julia Gillard was yesterday quizzed about her stance against marriage equality and said that her position was clear, but that she would not try to impose her views on the Labor Party or the Australian parliament.

“I think the next step here . . . is that everyone is able to come to the parliament and vote in accordance with their beliefs,” she told ABC radio yesterday.

Senator Pratt said the Rainbow Labor campaign would promote pro-marriage equality candidates and put pressure on those Labor MPs, senators and candidates against the reform. “We know that marriage will be an election issue. It was an issue at the last election. Australia’s stocks have fallen further behind yet on this,” she said.

“The majority of the Australian public support marriage equality and so we know it will be one of the questions that people will want to know where their MP stands particularly as Labor MP’s have a conscience vote.”

Senator Pratt said the campaign would not seek to shame Labor MPs who were against gay marriage, but it did intend to put pressure on them. “We have to put positive pressure on them to come across the line,” she said.

“Tony Abbott needs to be pushed to have a conscience vote so that we can get this issue dealt with and Australia finally does what everybody’s been expecting it to do for a very long time.”

The Opposition Leader recently left the door open to a change in policy on a conscience vote after the election, saying: “You have to respect strong feelings within the party.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the nation was now isolated from some of its closest allies, such as New Zealand and France. “We shouldn’t have to force couples to dump their marriages in the quarantine bins at the Customs gate just because Australia hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world,” she said yesterday.

Senator Hanson-Young also congratulated NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, who last week declared his support for legalising same-sex marriage. “If a conservative Premier like Barry O’Farrell can evolve his view, surely so can a Labor prime minister,” she said.

Author: Patricia Karvelas
Publication: The Australian
Publication Date: April 25 2013