With the slow collapse of the state-based marriage movement, and no prospect of significant movement on the federal marriage front for the next 6-9 yrs, LGBTI activists need to refocus efforts into building sustainable long term support for LGBTI political participation and progress.
We need out gay MPs
Unlike the US Congress, or the British, Canadian, French, German and other parliaments, there are no out LGBTI politicians serving in the Australian House of Representatives. Why? What do we need to do to change that? And how? Because until we do, we will never achieve marriage equality in this country, or keep our concerns top of mind with Australian politicians.
Get into the parties
Membership of both major political parties is plummeting. That means more and more candidates are being selected from an ever-shrinking pool of potential candidates. This has allowed certain groups, in particular, evangelical christians and militant catholics, to have a disproportionate influence on candidate selection and party policy.
The situation is particularly bad in Queensland, where a surreptitious evangelical agenda is pushing secular advisers out of schools and diverting the funds for them and other education staff into beefing up the chaplaincy program. Queensland Government considers plan for schools to use funding for chaplains instead of education (Courier Mail).
The LGBTI community need to become as powerful a player, and to do it, we must take a leaf out of their playbook and start infiltrating and stacking branches of both majors in all states with LGBTI and their supporters, preparatory to selecting LGBTI candidates in winnable seats. We also need to . . . . . .
Make LGBTI quotas party policy
Women have had some success in increasing their numbers in politics through quotas such as Emily’s List, which aim to have a minimum percentage of women candidates preselected for winnable seats. We need to get the numbers into the parties (see above) to enforce a similar quota of LGBTI candididates in winnable seats, say 3% initially. How can we get this ball rolling . . . . . .
Train, mentor and fund LGBTI candidates
To co-ordinate such an effort, we need to train and mentor suitable candidates for both main parties, as well as to recruit members to join those parties in adequate numbers. We need past and present state and federal politicians to actively advise, assist and support these candidates. And also to front . . . .
A national victory fund
The US provides an appropriate blueprint in the form of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which offers a full suite of support, mentoring, internships etc.for LGBTI candidates. It would be worthwhile to get their assistance to set up here (why reinvent the wheel?) and adapt their model to Australian conditions. The other thing we need to campaign for is . . . . .
An LGBTI Ministry
Politicians are forever moaning that when it comes to gay issues, they don’t know who to talk to. Why don’t you have one organisation and speak to us with one voice, they say?
This is the complaint of lazy politicians with lazy policies, or none. They don’t want to udertake to work of finding out what our very diverse community wants and needs are. They don’t want to develop policies to address those needs. They want us to do the work for them.
This is totally arse-about-face: what we need is a dedicated Minister in every government at every level with specific responsibility for LGBTI issues. Most governments have a Minister for Women, a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, a Minister for Multicultural Communities (even if they are sometimes only token, c.f. one T Abbott Esq., Minister for Women).
The lack of such a one stop shop forces LGBTI advocates to chase around lobbying multiple ministers, who play buck-passing and blame shifting games to avoid having to take action and accept responsibility, e.g., when you talk about proper rational scientific sex ed, which is a political hot potato, Health and Education each try and force it onto the other.
Stop expecting other people to do the work for us
Its time to stop standing outside mainstream politics with our begging bowls, asking piteously, “Please sir, I want some more.” If we want more, we have to go and take it. Otherwise we will always be subsisting on crumbs. Time to get busy! Alex Greenwich, Penny Wong, Dean Smith, will you stand up for your own, join forces and lead the charge?