Budget Shows Plebiscite Still On the Cards

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Plebiscite.jpgDespite the LGBTI lobby’s declarations that the issue is “non-debatable,” this year’s Federal Budget shows signs of hope for those who support a people’s vote on same-sex marriage. 

In keeping with their election promises, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison delivered a Federal Budget with $170 million allocated to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Thus, if the Senate decides to give the people a vote, the plebiscite has the necessary funding.

High-profile LGBTI activist Rodney Croome unsurprisingly criticised the move with old arguments:

"It's deeply disappointing that the government is persisting with its expensive, damaging, unnecessary and unpopular plebiscite,” he said.

"If the government is determined to spend $170 million on LGBTI issues, it would be better off funding LGBTI school inclusion and mental health programs."

Like most who argue for changing the definition of marriage, Croome echoes the claim that the plebiscite is “expensive, damaging, unnecessary and unpopular” and adds a push for ‘LGBTI school inclusion’ programs like Safe Schools, even though the budget also confirmed that federal funding for Safe Schools would – as promised – also cease. 

As Senator David Leyonhjelm put it, such a premise is “stereotypical, if not homophobic” and assumes “that gay and lesbian people are just too fragile to countenance a public debate.” Leyonhjelm himself has faced criticism for his principled stand in support of a people’s vote on marriage.

“And although I remain the only senator to have voted in favour of same-sex marriage at every opportunity, my support for a plebiscite was enough to make me the target of obnoxious slurs from sections of the gay community that would make a homophobe blush.”

Earlier this year, University of Newcastle law professor Neil Foster wrote that the issue is far more complex than same-sex marriage advocates would have us believe. Legalising same-sex marriage would have wide-ranging consequences in multiple areas of law.

While same-sex marriage activists would have us believe that a people’s vote is unnecessary, a Senate Select Committee inquiry revealed just how far from ‘consensus’ the Australian people are on this issue. University of Newcastle law professor Neil Foster compiled a list of many matters which remain unresolved:

The Committee politely identifies matters on which its members, and many of its witnesses, fundamentally disagree as areas for “further discussion”. These are very broad, and in effect cover (with the single exception of ministers of religion) the whole area of how religious believers are treated under the proposed Bill. So there is no consensus on

  • protection of private celebrants who are not ministers of religion;
  • protection for registry officers who may have a religious objection to solemnising same sex marriage;
  • protection of the ability of religious groups not to offer their premises for use in same-sex weddings;
  • protection of business owners in the “wedding industries” such as florists, photographers and bakers, who do not want to be forced to devote their artistic talents to support ceremonies celebrating a sexual relationship which they see as contrary to God’s will.

While LGBTI advocates and the mainstream media constantly push the line that a plebiscite would be hurtful and wasteful, a people’s vote is necessary. Marriage is a fundamental institution in our society and in a democracy – its future should be left in the hands of the people.

We need to continue applying pressure to have this issue put to a people’s vote. Unfortunately, we cannot leave the future of such a fundamental institution of our society in the hands of flaky politicians. 

Catch up on the marriage debate here

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