The theme for Sydney’s New Year celebrations was “embrace” – which means to take up especially readily or gladly. The theme seems ironic considering the year we have just said goodbye to. While we may have shut the door on 2012, a year filled with cultural violence, political sexism and a lack of progress on gay marriage rights within Australia; 2013 will most likely be painted with the same brush.
Politically 2012 is a year to be ashamed of. From the Peter Slipper-James Ashby embarrassment, to the “misogynist” dribble of Tony Abbott, 2012 was a year of inexcusable behaviour. It makes it difficult to believe that 2013, a federal election year, is going to be any different.
But one thing could change all of that. If 2013 is to be a year of embracing change, a year to be proud of: it must be the year gay marriage is made legal.
When an unwed, atheist who lives with her long-term partner became the Prime Minister, Australians had hope that the gay marriage debate would be tackled. But this has not been the case. Julia Gillard has remained traditional and conservative on the controversial topic. She has resolutely maintained that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and while she allowed the ALP to change the party policy to back gay marriage at the 2011 ALP National Conference, allowing a conscience vote rendered the move null and void.
Meanwhile Tony Abbott’s Liberal party continue to stand by their anti-gay marriage policy, meaning there is little hope for political change.
We know Julia Gillard is heading into a tough battle to try and retain her Prime Ministership. While Ms Gillard may lead the preferred Prime Minister race 45-32 (according to Newspoll as at Nov ’12), the Tony Abbott led Coalition is winning on the two-party preferred front-line, 51-49. If Julia Gillard loses the election she will be remembered as the first female PM; a legacy that shouldn’t be scoffed at. But she could have been remembered as the PM who led without fear, as the PM who legalised gay marriage.
If the US can do it, why can’t Australia? As of November 2012, nine states had legalised same-sex marriage. President Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to publicly declare support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, yet Julia Gillard remains tight-lipped on the issue.
2013 is a federal election year. Contact your local MPs and nominated candidates over the issue 64% of Australians want them to “embrace”, and have your voice heard.
Australia is a democratic nation, and that means it’s time for all Australians to have the right to marry the person they love, regardless of gender. 2013 is the year marriage laws must change.