Saturday, April 28, 2007

Laboured love

It's gone pretty much the way I predicted - right down to de Bruyn being chief asshat about it - and so now we have the very, very soft option of federal relationship registration to look forward to. Looks like the Kruddster is every bit afraid of seeing the happy fags at ceremonies - god forbid! - as J-Ho. Although I guess de Bruyn's response is perhaps indicative of why Labor had to come up with such a cop-out compromise - they had their own influential homophobes to counter before they could expect to go up against the homophobes on the other side.

People are suggesting that for the moment, the most important thing is for Krudd to announce policy that will get him into power - or more importantly, get Howard out. It's probably true, too. Howard didn't flaunt the extremities of his government as part of his 1996 election platform; they came out when he was safely in government and had sympathetic Independent and Democrat senators on hand to assist his agenda. Likewise, perhaps, a better option can be presented when Labor is in government and has had a few years to help re-shape the Howard mindset in swinging voters. Not that civil unions are an 'extremity', of course - they only appear that way because Howard's been around so long - but it may need to be softly, softly for the first term.

I'm still not entirely convinced, however, that this policy doesn't also reflect Krudd's own personal views on the subject. Ever since he became leader he's been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about GLBTI issues. He has good form, having been Wayne Goss' COS at the time homosexuality was decriminalised in Queensland, but otherwise he's struck me as being fairly in-line with his predecessor on this particular policy area - i.e. no worse than Howard, but not much better either.

Of course, now the Labor apologists will bleat that this is the best option we have, we should be grateful for what we're getting, reforms only ever happen under Labor, yadda yadda - and it's true - but Labor and Krudd deserve no kudos for reinforcing the fallacy of public commitment ceremonies between same-sex couples somehow being a threat to society, which essentially is what relationship registration reinforces.

Honestly, who wants to get 'registered'? It's about as romantic as going to the Department of Motor Registries for your first date. Sure, the legal safeguards will be in place, but relationship registration - equating same-sex couples with elderly sisters looking after one another and other forms of interdependent relationships - only reinforces the misperception in people's mind of same-sex relationships as somehow alien to everybody else's, as though we're different from the everyday couples living together, taking out joint bank accounts and - yes - fucking each other.

The official text of ALP policy reads:
Labor will ensure that all couples who have a mutual commitment to a shared life do not suffer discrimination because they are not married.

Labor will take action to ensure the development of nationally consistent, state-based relationship recognition legislation that will include the opportunity for couples who have a mutual commitment to a shared life to have those relationships registered and certified.

This legislation will:

- be based on the scheme that has existed in Tasmania since 2004 and that the Victorian Government has announced its intention to introduce;
- not create schemes that mimic marriage or undermine existing laws that define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Just as I thought, the timing of Bracks' Victorian relationship registration scheme was too exquisitely convenient for the federal Labor agenda for it to be a coincidence. Presumably, 'state-based relationship recognition legislation' will have application for federal law - this, after all, is the key issue, since most state laws are now equal. It seems as though federal Labor is offsetting responsibility to the states - which is fine for the moment given the luxury of uniform state Labor governments, but this won't always be the case.

Very disappointing. Still, for a more positive perspective on registration, this is definitely worth a read (published in the Hun, no less!)

And in other, happier queer-related (sorta) news, one of the Libs' most homophobic tools, Ross 'What's to stop a bloke marrying his E-type Jag?" Lightfoot - joins the scrapping heap, where he belongs. I'd like to think that, with him and Santoro both gone, this is a slow but steady cleansing of old-school Lib anti-gay extremists - but unfortunately their successive generation equivalents just replace them. Still, good riddance.

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At 28/4/07 1:11 pm, Blogger James said...

How do you pronounce Krudd?

I've been pronouncing it "kay-rudd", in the manner of K Fed, but also in the spirit of k-rad.

At 28/4/07 3:08 pm, Blogger Ron said...

"who wants to get 'registered'"

Would we get a tag for our collar from the local council ?

At 29/4/07 11:45 am, Anonymous Mikey said...

The thing that shits me about the SDA is de Bruyn and various other dickheads on its executive. Imagine how many retail fags the SDA represents - including myself. Le sigh.

At 29/4/07 5:46 pm, Blogger Bill said...

Surely they can't be serious about duplicating the Tasmanian legislation at federal level. The Tasmanian law actually ABOLISHES marriage under state law and replaces it with the same sort of "significant relationship" that gays get. Tasmania could get away with that because marriage is essentially a federal affair. To do the same thing at federal level would be more radical than introducing civil unions.

At 30/4/07 11:22 pm, Anonymous Rodney Croome said...

Sam, It's pretty disappointing to see you misrepresent the Tasmanian law when you know better.

All significant life-moments are registered - birth, marriage, death. Yet you insist on comparing relationship registration with registering dogs, even though the former is idenitical to registering a birth, marriage or death.

Also, the reason older companions have the same rights under the Tasmanian law as same-sex couples is because all couples, including married couples, have the same legal rights and status within completely new relationship categories which, as Bill notes, do away with "marriage" altogether. People who argue for removing discrimination against same-sex couples shouldn't be reinforcing it against other significant relationships.

Sure Vic and Fed Labor have endorsed the Tas scheme, not for these good reasons, but for the wrong reason that it doesn't allow for official ceremonies.

But is this the fault of Australia's only existing formal relationship recognition scheme, and one of the most advanced schermes of its kind in the world, or is the fault of those people who are debasing that scheme for their own political ends?

PS: I remember very clearly when you questioned the value of marriage as an institution even as you reluctantly supported equal marriage. So what will it be Sam, marriage, or an alternative for couples who don't wish to marry? My answer is both. Yours seems to be neither.

At 1/5/07 9:07 am, Blogger Sam said...

There is no misrepresentation Rodney. The relationship scheme has no option for a formal commitment ceremony - you admit this yourself. And in fact, marriages and deaths (I guess not so much births), while requiring registration, do also have a corresponding ceremony.

Clearly, Tasmania can do away with marriage in Tasmania legislature alone because it's federal, not state. And clearly, Labor is not going to do that at a federal level.

I don't think my argument is essentially all that different from yours. We both agree this policy decision by Labor, at a federal level, is flawed, confusing and inappopriate.

You've also acknowledged that the low take-up of registration in Tasmania by interdependent couples might suggest it's an option people just don't feel comfortable with. It can't just all be due to poor promotion, surely?

I haven't changed my mind about same-sex marriage - it should be allowed as an option for s-s couples. It's just been a big reality slap in the face over the last couple of years that's led me to conclude gay marriage is not going to happen in Australia anytime soon, if indeed in my lifetime - so I'm trying to be pragmatic about arguing for more realistic alternatives, and I believe at a federal level civil unions are a better way to go, for the moment anyway.

At 2/5/07 9:52 pm, Anonymous Rodney Croome said...

Sam, You're right about ceremonies. That's the key issue, so stick to that issue instead of getting stuck into the Tasmanian scheme for not being something it was never intended to be.

Meanwhile about marriage you're very wrong. Marriage equality is achievable, and civil unions aren't easier. When it comes to the recognition of my conjugal status I will never settle for the second-best option of civil unions.

At 2/5/07 10:15 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Fine Rodney, we have a difference of opinion about what can/cannot be achieved.

I'd still appreciate something better from you than stating point blank that I'm 'very wrong' - especially when on this particular issue you have no definitive proof that you're right. I certainly respect you enough not to be so bluntly and patronisingly dismissive - and would appreciate the same courtesy.

At 2/5/07 11:05 pm, Anonymous Rodney Croome said...

I made a blunt assertion because I wasn't sure comments on old posts are read much.

Here's why I think equal marriage is not so hard, nor civil unions much easier...

In every country where equal marriage has been achieved the pace of reform has taken activists by surprise. They assumed it would take forever, but there came a point where the tide of change pushed all before it.

Meanwhile, the distinction between civil unions and marriage which once gave the former more chance of success politically, has largely evaporated. More people now see the two as identical, robbing CUs of their pragmatic edge.

As for partnership registries, does your antagonism to them also apply to de facto laws for same-sex couples?

These are supported by an ALP and the ACL(ish).

Should we declare de facto protection unacceptable because it's not marriage?

No, because we understand de facto laws serve a different purpose to marriage.

So do relationship registries.

Sure, that's not why the ALP Conference endorsed them.

But that's a problem with the ALP not with relationship registries.


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