Monday, November 15, 2010

The same-sex marriage battle in Australia

There's a couple of interesting stories today about the same-sex marriage battle in Australia. First, a piece in Green-Left Weekly about the revolt of the Labor grassroots on the issue. The Australian Labor Party formally opposes same-sex marriage, preferring to pander to conservatives - but 74% of their voters support it. By any measure, the party is wildly out of step with its voters. And as a result, we're seeing an increasing number of MPs, faction leaders and powerbrokers coming out in support of marriage equality to protect their own political futures.

Secondly, there's a couple of articles in the Sydney-Morning Herald about the political geography of same-sex marriage. From the summary:

Roy Morgan Research survey data shows areas with the most positive attitudes towards gays include inner-city electorates such as the Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese's Grayndler in Sydney's inner-west and affluent Liberal seats in Sydney, such as Wentworth and North Sydney, as well as Melbourne's Kooyong and Higgins.

Seats with the most negative attitudes include Liberal and Nationals country strongholds and some working-class Labor seats in big cities' outer suburbs.

Which is what you'd expect. But the study also shows that marginal seats are highly concentrated in areas with between 25 and 34 percent bigots. And its these people the ALP leadership are trying to pander to in taking a conservative approach. Rather than standing up for progressive principles, they are instead adopting a "small target" strategy and not giving people a reason to vote against them - with gays as the victims. Its an utterly despicable strategy, and if the ALP continues with it, they deserve to be rejected by their own base.