Dennis Atkins has written an opinion piece in the Courier Mail on US Supreme Court judge Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “coherent, comprehensive and cogent” majority judgement on same-sex marriage. The judge reasons and writes beautifully:
- “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” he wrote.
“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
The justice went on to say those who argued before the Court for marriage equality made a case that this union continued beyond death.
“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” he said. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation’s oldest institutions.
“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The (US) Constitution grants them that right.”
Justice Kennedy makes, on behalf of the court, what he clearly sees as a conservative position to uphold and strengthen the institution of marriage.
He says not to give same-sex people the legal right to marry weakens the institution because it creates two classes of marriage and excluding same-sex couples conflicts with what marriage is all about.
“Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” he wrote.
“The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
“They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life.”
Barrie Cassidy points out that Newspoll in 2003 found only 38% support for gay marriage. Last year a Crosby-Textor poll found support was 72% with 48% supporting it strongly. Mark Textor said:
- With Australians across all key demographics supporting marriage equality in record numbers, it’s fair to say the public has made up its mind, the community debate is over, and it’s time for politicians to act.
We will be using this landmark research to work with Government members who have yet to declare support for reform to show them they have nothing to fear.(Emphasis added)
Cassidy thinks that Abbott’s stonewalling may cost him politically. Even if he wins he loses. Cassidy thinks the issue could make a difference in marginal seats.
This is a worry too on the part of pro-gay marriage Liberal MP, Ewen Jones, who according to the AFR said:
- he supported the senators airing their views, but feared a ‘no’ vote could rattle those in crucial marginal seats in Queensland and the NSW Central Coast.
“What worries me about Senators saying stuff is that Bernadi and Abetz are both elected at about eight minutes past six on the night of an election.
“These statements are not going to hurt their careers at all, but will it hurt Michelle Landry? Will it hurt Lucy Wicks on the Central Coast, those people who Tony Abbott relies on to be Prime Minister?” he said.
Mr Jones said putting off the debate could prove distracting in an election campaign and hurt the Prime Minister.
Others are suggesting that Liberal Party members could have their pre-selection threatened, and worry about the distraction of the issue coming up during an election campaign.
Abbott’s sister Christine Forster is urging him to act for similar reasons.
Terri Butler says that some LNPers supporting gay marriage worry about their pre-selection. She rebuts the reasons Abbott has for delay. To say it’s a “distraction” is insulting. She details a range of private members bills brought forward in recent years, some initiated by Abbott.
- It’s time Mr Abbott made good on the promise he made to his MPs, that they would be given a “very full, frank and candid and decent” debate about the issue in the party room.
Cassidy says that Mark McKenna wrote in The Monthly that Abbott “rather than using power creatively … relies on his enemies to define his agenda”. There is no better example of that than this issue.
- Fairfax Media estimates that if a free vote were allowed on the bill in the Lower House, at least 65 MPs from all sides of politics would vote for it, with 76 needed to pass it.
Australian Marriage Equality says that adding in undeclared supporters, there are an estimated 73 votes in the lower house and a slim majority of two votes in the Senate.
Abbott says he wants a bill that is owned by the parliament. It’s not clear that the parliament is ready.