George Brandis and Tony Abbott may have got more than they bargained for with the appointment of Tim Wilson as a Human Rights Commissioner. A role with little actual power but a very influential bully pulpit, it’s a long way from Tim’s early days in the backrooms at Liberal Party conferences, where his superficial resemblance to a certain senior party member gave rise to the nickname “Malcolm’s Love Child.”
Because Tim is not just openly gay, he’s a staunch supporter of equality, especially equal marriage. He has argued strongly for a greater separation of church and state, by following the French model, where only secular marriages performed by the state are legally recognised, with religious weddings an optional extra with no legal meaning,
Alternatively, the free market warrior suggested establishing
“a competitive marriage market where private religious faiths register their own marital contract based on private rules and traditions set by the appropriate hierarchy of the faith. Government could then offer a civil marriage alternative between two people reflecting societal standards.”
Marriage, Wilson argued,
“is it not just a religious institution. It is also a public one. And the best way to resolve this impasse is to disentangle ownership, ensuring that civil relationship recognition and religious marriage celebration aren’t one and the same.”
Wilsons appointment wasn’t the only act to gladden the hearts of homocons today. Tony Abbott slapped down two rabidly anti-gay Liberal attack dogs from the translunar right, Corey Bernardi and Dennis Jensen, who have been harrassing Malcolm Turnbull over his support for marriage equality.
The PM told The Australian he was relaxed about Mr Turnbull’s vocal support for gay marriage.
“This is a rather unusual subject and I think on a subject such as this there is a certain leeway extended to people,” Mr Abbott said.
At a time when the government’s name is mud with just about everyone, and Joe Hockey is trying unsuccessfully to convince us that the budget blowout has nothing to do with the government’s own hasty plans to ramp up spending and cut tax, these little gestures towards the LGBTI community seem rather out of place, although nonetheless welcome.
Still, when you’re as universally disliked and distrusted as the PM, I guess you have to take your friends where you can find them. Even at the cost of appointing the most unlikely Human Rights Commissioner in living memory, with a radically different view of human rights to any who have gone before.