It’s very disappointing that Attorney-General Robert McClelland has taken an illiberal stand by refusing to permit the ACT government to legitimise commitment ceremonies for same sex couples. It’s even more disappointing that this is apparently a result of promises made privately to the unrepresentative Australian Christian Lobby (on which, see a well argued piece by former Democrats Senator Brian Greig at On Line Opinion). Does anyone seriously believe that allowing same-sex couples to formalise their love in a ceremony would somehow “weaken” marriage as an institution? If anyone took offence, that’s their problem – even if you don’t support same-sex unions, I can’t see how that could possibly over-ride the much greater good that obtains to those who wish to enter into one. As Rodney Croome remarks in today’s Crikey:
Before the election Kevin Rudd made an explicit, written commitment to religious groups that Labor would not support state schemes which allow official ceremonies.
Now he’s caught between that promise on the one hand, and his commitment to co-operative federalism and to ending anti-gay discrimination on the other.
In resolving that dilemma I’d direct our new PM to the yet-to-be-written political dictionary which explains the difference between post-Joh Queensland and post-Howard Australia.
In the former, many people may have been content simply that the old days were over.
In the latter, as Brendan Nelson has so dramatically demonstrated, many people are eager to move forward.