Parliament has been in quite the fracas over marriage equality this week. The issue has become a toy within these halls of power, starting with NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm trying to push the Greens into a corner - which saw them vote against a debate on their own marriage bill. This is despite them claiming “every vote. every MP. every time” as a slogan on the issue.
This week will go down badly for the Parliament’s record on human rights. Politicians ought to realise that marriage equality isn’t about them. This is an issue of human dignity which the majority of the Parliament seeks to deny us.
We, as LGBT people, have become a game. Whether it was the Labor Party in advance of Mardi Gras trying to force a vote or the Liberals avoiding a free vote or any number of the bills that have come before Parliament and have failed, it is clear that LGBT people are not front of mind.
Last week, the Australian newspaper ran an editorial which highlighted that marriage equality was an issue for a minority that had become a burden for the majority. They are right. This is not our doing. Politicians, of all sides, only have themselves to blame. Our dignity before the law is reduced to a screaming match across a chamber, where I become a plaything in a zero-sum game for alternative reasons.
Esteemed US law professor Catherine MacKinnon speaks of the indignity of inequality, because that which we seek cannot be granted without the will of those who dare not consider life without it. I prefer to leave the emotional aspects of issues to the side, but my patience to do so is wearing so thin that I doubt I can.
Esteemed US law professor Catherine MacKinnon speaks of the indignity of inequality, because that which I seek cannot be granted without the will of those who dare not consider life without it.
So while it can be easy to get on Facebook and channel rage into a post that gets a few hundred likes, I know that is not the best use of my efforts. My voice matters to politicians. I have 12 senators and one member in the House of Representatives. Looking at their voting record, they do not believe I deserve equality before the law. I have raised this with them, and you should too.
Recently a prominent CEO I work closely with asked me how I “handle this marriage equality disaster”. They want it dealt with, passed and for the Parliament to move forward. The truth is that I don’t know. As this “debate” goes on I do not know how much longer I can take being a political football.
It is tiring.
Conrad Liveris is an advocate, adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of diversity.