By Jack McNally
Last night, the Liberal Party caucus voted 27-7 against offering a conscience vote to MPs and senators on marriage equality, resolving to put the question of the plebiscite to the Senate another time and, failing that, explore the option of a postal plebiscite.
Though many of us in the LGBTIQ+ community expected a result, nothing can describe the feeling of bitter disappointment and anger. Twenty seven people last night voted to unleash forces of hatred upon the LGBTIQ+ community, and spend $160 million on a non-binding opinion poll. Twenty seven people look to have killed my hope to have the same rights as my peers before the end of the year.
“Today the government has broken the hearts of gay and lesbian people across Australia,” said Anna Brown of the Human Rights Law Centre.
The truth is this: I am broken-hearted, but I am also incredibly tired. I’m tired of having to fight for my rights each and every day. I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of the vile hate spewed across the Internet and the headlines attacking me and members of my community for simply being who we are. I’m sick of being told I am sick, and I’m tired of hearing about LGBTIQ+ kids being bullied and committing suicide because they feel lesser. I’m really fucking tired.
Many in the Liberal Party, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, stated that Coalition MPs are “honour-bound to oppose same-sex marriage” in the absence of a plebiscite, a policy the Coalition took to the last election.
The reality is, Abbott, and the conservative fringe of the Liberal Party, doesn’t care about breaking their promises. Where was the now principled Coalition, desperate to uphold the will of the people, when Mr Abbott promised to invest more in hospitals, but then ripped $1.8 billion from the health budget in 2014? Where were their complaints when he promised not cut funding to the ABC, but then cut $35.5 million in 2014-15? Or when he promised to draft an amendment to recognise Aboriginal people in our Constitution within a year of his election, but then didn’t? Mr Abbott, the desperate man who broke nearly as many promises as he made, now begs Malcolm Turnbull not to break his.
The plebiscite, and the conservative MPs who defend it, don’t care about breaking promises, and they don’t care about the opinion of the electorate. They will invent any excuse to oppose marriage equality, because they disagree with who I am as a human being. They fundamentally oppose a key tenet of my existence, and seek, at every opportunity, to oppress me. Nothing will convince them to vote in favour of marriage equality, and nothing will convince them that I, and my relationships, are as worthy as them and theirs.
They want the recognition of my rights, and the validity of my relationships, to depend on my fellow Australians either casting a vote in favour or caring enough to stick a stamp on a ballot and return it to Turnbull.
My heartbreak, and the heartbreak of tens of thousands of members of the LGBTIQ+ community, is surely enough to warrant breaking that promise and letting our elected representatives vote freely.
Promises have been broken on much less.