Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What More Can be Said?

UPDATE #2: The Oz confirms that this is actually all the fault of the Stanhope and not Howard government. Thanks, Oz.

"Several states allow same-sex couples to adopt children."

Umm - of the 6 states, far as I know Tasmania and WA are the only two (and I'm not 100% certain about Tasmania?). Strange definition of "several"!

"If Mr Stanhope wants to support the gay community, he should turn his attention to practical issues, such as winning federal agreement to overturn laws that still discriminate against gay relationships, including the Medicare safety net, public sector superannuation, veterans' entitlements and judicial pensions."

Yeah - funnily enough though, responsibility of federal laws actually lies with the federal government, not the ACT government.

But of course, the Oz couldn't write about the Howard government dragging its arse on federal law reform. Nope, once again that's, somehow, entirely the fault of a state or territory Labor government.

"Same-sex couples should not let their private lives be manipulated for political advantage."

Oh my, the irony. This Oz editorial is like a series of horribly incorrect mathematical miscalculations that somehow end with a correct solution.


I can't make any witty comments about it. I can't put a positive spin on it. I could outline the gross hypocrisy and malevolent strategising behind the Howard government, but honestly, what's the fucking point? They win. Again. We lose. Again.

Apologies for the melodrama, but I'm just really very sad at the moment. That's about it.

UPDATE: OK, I've come up with a few comments. After all, I wouldn't get paid otherwise.

I could outline how this reeks of hypocrisy in light of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock’s insistence that civil unions should be the domain of state and territory governments. I could explain how this latest assault is a slap in the face not just of queer people but of the residents of the ACT and their expectation of democratic self-governance. I could argue this is another example of the contempt the Howard government displays for any person or organisation that dares to disagree with its policies. But honestly, what’s the point? I’ve done all this in previous columns and it doesn’t change the reality of the current situation.

So instead, I’m going to discuss the only possible silver linings I can see in this particular thunderstorm.

Firstly, there was the comprehensive rebuttal from shadow Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon. As a parliamentarian who has previously embodied the Labor Party’s lukewarm stance on and lack of alternative position to the government over queer rights, her swift response to the ACT announcement slamming the “arrogant” Howard government and plainly stating that “the law should recognise caring and loving relationships”, is one of the more decisive and unequivocal statements to come out of Roxon’s office with regard to same-sex couple law reform.

Roxon has also indicated she will introduce a motion to disallow the override, which brings me to my next silver lining. The Howard government can destroy a territory law simply by instructing the Governor-General to disallow that law within six months of its enactment. Such an instruction does not need to be debated and passed in federal parliament, therefore those few supporters of queer rights within the Coalition will not have their opposition to the government’s tactic heard. They can, however, vote in favour of Roxon’s motion and cut off the override at the pass. It’s a long shot but it does provide an opportunity to lobby the few coalitionists with a conscience about this issue.

The final silver lining relates to a possible alternative to the existing civil unions model in the ACT. The Liberal opposition there floated another model of relationship registration, similar to the one currently operating in Tasmania. The Bill had the support not just (presumably) of their federal counterparts, who have announced the Tasmanian model will not be overturned, but also of the Australian Christian Lobby, ironically the strongest opponents of the Tasmanian model only a few years ago. It’s a contingency plan that does not lessen the Howard government pissing all over the ACT, but in pragmatic terms could be the most effective way to move forward.


At 6/6/06 7:55 pm, Anonymous Neil said...

Someone I greatly respect used the very old-fashioned word "demonic" to describe the Howard government the other day, and I knew exactly what she meant...

Give them a choice, and they will almost surely take the least civilised path.

And, shudder, to think that as an eighteen-years-old I actually sat next to P Ruddock in History II lectures at Sydney U. What a service I might have done us all then, had I only known ;-)

And yes, he was VERY boring.

At 6/6/06 8:02 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

Well the Anti-Christ picked the right day to announce that little gem. We can't say Rodney didn't warn us.

At 6/6/06 11:10 pm, Blogger weasel said...

I guess Nicola Roxon's relatively good response could be seen as the upside...

At 7/6/06 8:00 am, Anonymous Linkstar said...

It is a step that most conservative governments in the world are taking: Make gay marriage an issue to push at the next elections. Bush is at the moment trying to force Democrats to state their position on gay marriage, using it as a shaming tactic when compared to his "strong leadership" on this issue.

Howard is a maestro at performing the politics of bigotry and diviseveness. He's been using his skills masterfully throughout his reign: Euthanasia, Immigration, Terrorism and Gay Rights. Problem is, Labor has been parroting his policies for years.

A sad day for us all.

At 7/6/06 9:48 am, Anonymous swatschy said...

Yep it's bullshit.

At 7/6/06 9:50 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck them.

Pride Day in Brisbane is in a few weeks, i'm going to yell louder and harder than ever before.

At 7/6/06 10:46 am, Blogger Gay Erasmus said...

Eh, I'm in denial and trying not to think about it at the moment. I'm beginning to feel that we're not gonna get gay marriage in this country until, paradoxically, it stops being a controversial political issue. But let's remember our disappointment today and galvanize ourselves for more articulate, better prepared, and more thorough support for a civil union bill in future. This isn't the end of gay marriage. The fight's not over yet.

At 7/6/06 11:41 am, Blogger John said...

Don't give up. The Federal Government won't achieve this override without a fight.

And in the process, it will just reveal them for the homophobic, small-minded bigots that they are, and it will draw attention to the unjust Federal marriage laws that they introduced.

At 7/6/06 2:55 pm, Anonymous kate said...

Reading the paper this morning certainly didn't help cure my morning sickness. Maybe if I'd vomited on a picture of the Prime Minister I'd have felt better. Not in a grown up political way, but in still.

Now I'm going to write to the State Government here in Victoria, just so that they know that I think they are wimps if they don't support the ACT - and then get off their arses and bring in their own civil union legislation.

At 7/6/06 3:36 pm, Anonymous Baz and Bazza said...

We feel the opportunity we have, to move to the UK under the British Civil Union Law more and more enticing. However there is a fight to be won, and we are going to win it!

At 7/6/06 5:22 pm, Blogger Riza said...

Depressing, eh...

But does the federal Liberal Party really support the Tasmanian model, or have they only said it won't be overturned because, constitutionally, they can't?

At 7/6/06 7:12 pm, Blogger sjusju said...

I'm pretty depressed about it too. Has anyone seen V for Vendetta yet? Feels like us and the muslims are well on the way to being the all time favorite scapegoats of conservative authoritarian governments. Which is just fabulous for people like my partner el prima, who fall into both muslim and queer camps...

it is just fucking exhausting being hated this much.

But I did write a thank you letter to roxon at least.

At 8/6/06 9:34 am, Blogger Sam said...

Probably Riza. But I assume the ACT Libs would not have tried to introduce that model as an alternative without the feds' OK.

Geez sju, muslim dyke? Go back to Russia already, commo :P

At 8/6/06 10:52 am, Anonymous Adrian Cahill said...

I get the feeling that whenever Howard is trying to deploy smoke and mirrors, he always goes after a "minority" to cause a social stir.
In the heat of the AWB investigation, Howard one day "muslims should go back home if they can't integrate", Costello day 2, Abbott 3 and so on. In the heat of debating the value of radioactive waste, we are NOW talking about the danger of recognising same sex marriages? What the heck is going on.

As a straight person keen on seeing justice for all, this issue makes my blood boil. Now we are saying as a society that a loving, committed homosexual couple are worth LESS to society than heterosexuals who were once married and now divorced.

At 8/6/06 12:53 pm, Anonymous baznbazza said...

There is some consolation in all this. The US senate through out the Bush anti gay Bill.

At 8/6/06 2:30 pm, Blogger Splatterbottom said...

I get the feeling that whenever Howard is trying to deploy smoke and mirrors, he always goes after a "minority" to cause a social stir.

Always the minority, because he is after votes by playing to peoples' prejudices.

There have been some good signs lately that he is coming unstuck.

Even though Costello appears to be adopting the same tactics, I doubt he will be accepted by the voters.

If both parties are obdurate it might be the time for some large civil rights gatherings.

At 8/6/06 2:47 pm, Blogger Gay Erasmus said...

Ok, so it's been a couple of days...and it just hit me. I'm angry. Reeeally angry with this. My only encouragement is that people who aren't usually interested in 'gay marriage' have suddenly recognized what a scandal the government's take on our relationships is. More people than ever before are picking up on this newstory, because it's the first time that the government is actually taking away civil unions from us, rather than simply opposing them from afar.

At 8/6/06 4:11 pm, Anonymous swatschy said...

baznbazza, that was always going to happen. That's what makes the whole US situation so transparently stupid.

Anyways, me and my girlfriend still have no intention of getting married, but we're planning to drive to Canberra and get civil unioned as soon as they rush it through just to get the numbers up (and say thanks to Jon Stanhope) before it gets stolen back. Anyone care to join us?

And will the legislation allow for out-of-towners?

At 8/6/06 7:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a great line from Jon Stewart some months back that made me laugh:

"Gay people getting married doesn't undermine the sanctity of the act. Britney Spears does."

At 21/6/06 6:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes, the act allows for out-of-towners (or it did, before the government killed it). In fact, one of the things that annoyed Howard was the fact that it even chose to recognise foreign (overseas) same-sex marriages as ACT civil unions...

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