• The editorial suggests LGBT+ Australians were naive to reject the plebiscite. (SMH / Getty Images)Source: SMH / Getty Images
A slow clap please for the hero nobody asked for.
By
Ben Winsor

18 Oct 2016 - 4:17 PM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2016 - 5:08 PM

We naïve, politically uninformed LGBT+ folk have shot ourselves in the foot by objecting to the plebiscite, and we’ve pushed same-sex marriage up to a decade away, or so Fairfax’s chief political correspondent Mark Kenny felt the need to explain to us this weekend.

By opposing a national vote on our basic rights, and rejoicing in its defeat, we have stupidly destroyed our one chance at happiness.

“What if, despite wide public support and the backing of all mainstream political leaders, marriage equality is suddenly three years away at best? Or even three terms away?” Kenny wrote.

First things first buddy - marriage equality isn’t ‘suddenly’ anything.

Kenny might be new to this fight, but the battle against legal discrimination has been raging for decades.

It’s been 15 years since same-sex marriage was legalised in The Netherlands, 12 years since Massachusetts.

My friend has been with his partner for over 30 years. They’re still waiting.

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Kenny then criticised the “broad left including the LGBTI community” for celebrating the death of the plebiscite.

“At the heart of this unquestioning glee lay several critical miscalculations. Misunderstandings that are informed not so much by hard political realities, as by a mixture of naive optimism, and tribalism.”

Let’s break this down. (We'll overlook the assumption that all LGBT+ people are rabid leftists. I’ve met gay Trump supporters who have given the plebiscite the thumbs down).

“Unquestioning glee”

Yes, many people were happy to see the death of this policy, but not all LGBT+ people were dancing on its grave.

Some of us had a hard time working out how to feel about an intentional delay tactic.

On the one hand, this was a chance for basic legal equality and recognition, on the other, it was an ugly political fix which put the dignity of our relationships up to a national opinion poll.

Our peak marriage equality advocacy group refused to take a position on it. A cruel wedge issue for a minority already suffering enough indignity.

A “misreading” of politics

Key among our failings, Kenny suggests, was an inability to understand the internal politics of the Coalition.

A failure to understand the deal which was done to build a bridge between the right, who supported Tony Abbott, and the moderates pushing for Malcolm Turnbull.

“It may seem shabby that the swift delivery of human rights to a whole class of persons has been traded away to sate the ambitions of one man, but this is what happened,” Kenny says, apparently expecting this to be some sort of shocking revelation.

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No weddings and a funeral.

At this point I will issue a spoiler alert, because – plot twist – that’s exactly why many LGBT+ Australians opposed the plebiscite in the first place.

We're well aware of the origins of the plebiscite, right back to when Tony Abbott announced it all that time ago just last year.

“Hard political realities”

The next failing of ours - apparently LGBT+ people lack an appreciation of 'hard political realities'.

Well, how’s this for a hard political reality:

When you see a close friend slit their wrists in high-school and you get called a faggot when walking down the street, you realise there are worse things than not being able to get married for a few more years.

For many, giving millions of taxpayer dollars to a ‘No’ campaign was a bridge too far.

Maybe the end – as much as you may yearn for it – doesn’t justify the means.

It’s not often you see an interest group so close to achieving their goal, only to walk away because the victory would be tainted.  

Perhaps the word you’re looking for is nobility, not naivety.

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Or maybe you’re selling us short. Maybe for some of us it isn’t optimism or naivety or nobility, but calculating political malice.

Maybe some would sooner wait than grant a political victory to a party whose leaders have said they’re threatened by our existence and whose MPs who have compared our relationships to bestiality.

And yes, maybe there are some of us who are optimistic enough to believe that the government will now be pushed into allowing a conscience vote. 

To be honest though, if you think our naïve optimism needs to be crushed, you’ve got a tough act to follow.

It wasn’t so long ago that an unmarried atheist female Prime Minister from the left wing of a centre-left party confirmed that she didn’t support same-sex marriage.

It doesn’t get much more disheartening than that.

The root of the problem

But the key point is this though, LGBT+ Australians have a rich tapestry of different opinions.

A rich, fabulous, well-informed tapestry that has endured too much to be all that naïve about anything.

So thanks but no thanks.

We didn't really need your “lesson for same-sex couples" or your help in identifying the real roadblock to marriage equality – which was apparently LGBT+ Australians all along.

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