Rainbow Labor is up to its usual tricks again – I’m talking about the endless spin, dissembling and what I consider to be outright lies. This time they’re trying to use this very website to muddy the waters: I’m referring to Luke Gahan’s recent 1000 words which boil down to “gay advocates need to be nicer to the ALP because the other guys are worse”.
When interacting with politicians gay advocates like me hear two ridiculous reactions to almost every lobbying effort: “We would love to support the gay community, if only the gays would work out exactly what they want” (as if removing 87 words from the Marriage Act was somehow an ambiguous request); or “We’ve done our bit for gay rights this parliament, plus, we’re better than the other guys.”
Astonishingly there is a large section of the gay community that buys into this argument. They seem to think that gays should always vote for the ALP “because Labor supports the gays”. Somehow Joe De Bruyn, John Murphy, and Nicola Roxon’s bipartisan efforts to ban gay marriage in 2004 get conveniently forgotten, ignored or omitted from the discussion.
Perhaps those are unfair examples, so let’s look at high-profile Rainbow Labor supporter Kevin Rudd – you know: the former Prime Minister and current backbencher. Mr Rudd promised the gay community, publicly, that he was going to end discrimination. In fact, the former foreign minister told Kerryn Phelps that if he were still Prime Minister, he would have “fixed” gay marriage already.
He voted against marriage equality.
When presented with a free-vote, Mr Rudd decided that it should remain legal fact that homosexual relationships are lesser than heterosexual unions. For Mr Rudd there was no political consequence, no cost, and no risk to him for voting to let the gays marry, but he still opposed it. In my view that’s worse than the case of gay supporter Malcolm Turnbull, or Warren Enstch, whose leadership forbad a free-vote, because unlike Turnbull or Enstch, Rudd had nothing to lose. Rudd’s vote was an intentional and deliberate act of political spite.
Voting for a major party to further gay rights is like choosing between syphilis and gonorrhoea. Let me put that in a less tortured way: voting ALP to further gay rights is like whoring in support of abstinence, because we’re still getting screwed.
It’s fine to belong to a political tribe, provided you don’t let the groupthink get in the way of your political goals. If you’re a politician, I’d like to remind you that ‘slightly less mean than the other guy’ doesn’t exactly send me running to my polling place. If you like to think of yourself as a gay advocate, I’d like to remind you that prioritising your political tribe over your advocacy is asinine.
If you are trying to spread the delusion that the ALP is the party of gay rights, then I need to tell you that you’re engaged in nothing short of a betrayal of the LBGTIQ community. It serves no purpose except to reinforce the ALP’s usual behaviour – taking the gay vote for granted.
You’re just kidding yourself if you think being nice, gentle and respectfully quiet is going to be fruitful against the howls of bigotry and fear from powerful ALP insiders like John Hogg, Jacinta Collins, Stephen Conroy and Ursula Stephens.
The fight for gay rights needs to be about results, not about activity. What is true of all governments is especially true of the ALP under Ms Gillard, they only respond to PR crises: we have to hold their feet to the fire and show them that we can take their seats away from them until we make progress.
The answer isn’t being nice to Labor: the answer is showing both major parties that being genuinely pro-gay wins elections.