How we worked together to push back on same-sex marriage

By Lyle Shelton

The war’s not over but a line was held today.

Thanks to more than 20,000 Australians who spoke up for marriage, an attempt to have the Liberal Party cave in was thwarted – for now.

Starting with the Greens in the Senate last week, enormous pressure was being brought to bear on the Liberals to move away from their party position supporting marriage.

The Greens, libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm, Tony Abbott’s lesbian sister and the lobby for redefining marriage, want the Liberals to abandon party solidarity on marriage and allow a conscience vote.

Their expectations were high for this morning’s Liberal Party room meeting in Canberra for discussion on granting a conscience vote to pave the way for redefining marriage in law. In the face of our campaign, their supporters in the party room retreated and the matter was not raised.

Now a conscience vote sounds nice and democratic but why should a political party go soft on a legal institution that exists in large part for protecting the rights of children?

Legislating a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their mother or father is unjust.

Public policy should always favour the best interest of the child. It is right that the Liberal Party votes as one on marriage.

Sadly back in 2011 Labor changed its policy to support redefining marriage.

Because the Labor caucus contains a large number of dissenters, they were and are granted a conscience vote so that they won’t be expelled for crossing the floor should marriage come up again.

Following the Greens on marriage policy has not worked out well for Labor.

Kevin Rudd’s pre-election vow to legislate within 100 days underwhelmed the electorate.

MPs openly say that changing the definition of marriage is a low order issue with voters and this is despite several media outlets openly campaigning for same-sex marriage.

When I trained as a journalist back in the late 80s and early 90s we were taught our role was to report the news. Now many in the media are advocates.

Take for instance Sky News’ ‘reporting’ today. Our campaign was described as a “spam campaign” while the redefining marriage lobby’s was “an online campaign”.

Both of us were activating our supporters to do the same thing to influence parliamentarians, but very different media treatment was meted out.

It’s been an interesting fortnight in the marriage debate both locally and overseas.

 

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