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Gillard on equal marriage rights

October 8th, 2011

In the event that Julia Gillard lasts as PM until December, she’ll presumably be faced with a resolution making equal marriage rights part of Labor policy. Gillard’s handling of this issue is emblematic of her disastrous leadership in general – simultaneously unprincipled, unconvincing and politically unsuccessful.

Unlike our PM, I’m just old enough to remember when the phrase “living in sin” could be used with a straight face to describe living arrangements like hers. So, I find it hard to believe that her stated opposition to equal marriage rights is sincere (unlike with Kevin Rudd). Rather it’s the result of the kind of political calculation standard on the right wing of the Labor Party (see also Kristina Kenneally), in which the ‘real’ Labor voter is typecast as an aspirational bogan[1] whose views on social issues are unchanged since the 1950s. The key text here is Michael Thompson’s Labor without Class. There’s no evidence for this – views on social issues in Australia are largely uncorrelated with social class.

Allowing that some Labor voters are socially conservative, Gillard’s strategy is still politically stupid. Given the desperate state of the polls, she can’t hope to win by caution on an issue like this. It’s probably too late now, but a strong stand in favor of equal marriage rights might have done something to stop the drift of Labor voters off to the Greens, independents or the kind of apathy that makes it easy to shift to the Liberals, given an attractive promise or two.

fn1. To be boringly clear, I don’t use or endorse the term “bogan” to describe anybody. But the stereotypical image of a bogan coincides perfectly with the Labor Right view of Labor voters.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    October 11th, 2011 at 14:53 | #1

    @wmmbb

    LOL, I’ve committed a howler! In the pre Harry Potter sense. :)

  2. Ikonoclast
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:05 | #2

    @Alan

    Pierre eventually marries… twice. Prince Andrei’s misogeny relates to his unhappiness in his first marriage. He later repents of this coldness when he becomes a widower. His second engagement is broken by the girl in question (I’m trying to avoid too many narrative spoilers) and an embittered and fatalistic Prince Andrei later invites and suffers a grievous wound at the Battle of Borodino. I will avoid saying what happens to Andrei after that. Suffice to say, a very clever plot device (creating suspense) later hinges on the fact that only one of two marriages in the offing are possible due to the marriage laws of the Russian Orthodox church. Once a marriage is contracted, further inter-marriage between in-laws thus created was not permissable.

    There, has the thread just got sillier? ;)

  3. Tim Macknay
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:12 | #3

    @may

    polygamy……one husband has multiple wives.

    I think the word for that is actually polygyny. My understanding is that the word “polygamy” refers to both polyandry and polygyny, and on some of the descriptions given above, might encompass “polygynandry” as well.

  4. Alan
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:14 | #4

    I would’ve thought polygynandry sesquipedalian. The Macquarie dictionary defines polygamy as having more than spouse. The same source tells us that ‘polygyny’ is the practice of having more than one wife. It is par for the course that this thread that polgyamy was used instead of polygnyy and then polygynandry was used instead of polygamy.

  5. Tim Macknay
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:31 | #5

    @Ikonoclast

    … Prince Andrei’s misogeny…

    Hatred of his origins? Or the geneaology of his soybean soup?

  6. Alan
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:36 | #6

    Perhaps Ikonoklast is telling us that Prince Andrei is polymisotic.

  7. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:56 | #7

    Marriage as a custom serves both a civil function, and a religious function. When considering same-sex relations, the civil function is the primary issue (I would assume), as that pertains to the legal rights of the partners. The religious function is something that can only be resolved within the relevant religious institutions. While Christian religions may wish to co-opt marriage as their own, other religions also have ceromonies identified as marriage. Since different religions have “marriage,” there are no particular constraints upon either a new religion identifying one of its ceremonies as marriage, or a society also making use of the term “marriage” to identify an equivalent civil ceremony. That religions choose to call their variants by the name “marriage” is hardly an exclusive right of theirs; that is my point.

    Personally, as an unmarried heterosexual atheist, I have no quibbles with same-sex couples having access to a civil union process recognised in law; and further, I have no quibbles with that civil union process being called “marriage.”, nor to such couples being recognised as “married.”

    If religious institutions wish to make it into the 21st century, they could begin by modifying their notions of marriage to be compatible with the civil union process I happily endorse—but, it is up to the institutional members to reach that “marriage” of convenience via their own appreciation of a marriage of conscience between the two concepts.

    Whatever it is called, to those who manage the feat of a lengthy marriage, I salute you :-)

  8. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:58 | #8

    PS: dunno what happened with the italics.
    Are they off now? (Hopefully yes.)

  9. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:58 | #9

    PPS: Last try. Damn things.

  10. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2011 at 16:57 | #10

    @Donald Oats

    You have left an unmatched tag.

    May fix

  11. Ikonoclast
    October 11th, 2011 at 19:37 | #11

    @Tim Macknay

    Another typo. I’ll give up while I’m behind.

  12. October 11th, 2011 at 19:43 | #12

    Freelander, in my defence, I did have a serious point. I imagine the objection to gay marriage is from bible-based values, which I do not know about or understand. Some people say, for instance, accept the truth from the Bible and not is facts and that seems to make sense to me. As Donald points out other religious practices and other religions have different procedures recognized as civil unions.

  13. may
    October 12th, 2011 at 11:41 | #13

    Tim Macknay :@may

    polygamy……one husband has multiple wives.

    I think the word for that is actually polygyny. My understanding is that the word “polygamy” refers to both polyandry and polygyny, and on some of the descriptions given above, might encompass “polygynandry” as well.

    you’re right.

  14. Michael
    October 12th, 2011 at 13:07 | #14

    At the risk of not fixing the formatting…..

  15. Michael
    October 12th, 2011 at 13:11 | #15

    perhaps
    a paragraph tag?

  16. worrierqueen
    October 14th, 2011 at 19:53 | #16

    “Rather it’s the result of the kind of political calculation standard on the right wing of the Labor Party (see also Kristina Kenneally), in which the ‘real’ Labor voter is typecast as an aspirational bogan[1] whose views on social issues are unchanged since the 1950s.”

    Brilliant analysis. I think she severely underestimates her own supporters which is why they are leaving in droves.

  17. John Quiggin
    October 19th, 2011 at 04:54 | #17

    I’ll leave this italicised discussion unfixed, I think

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