Gay Marriage

Australia's Parliament Won't Vote for Gay Marriage, But Its Citizens Might

Prime minister successfully blocks efforts to allow MPs to vote how they choose.


Kylie Minogue is not pleased, y'all.
Credit: pumpkinmook / photo on flickr

Australia won't be joining the United States and Ireland in legalizing same-sex marriage recognition in the very near future. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ruling coalition of conservative parties will not allow its party members to vote their consciences, essentially forcing them to accept the coalition's current position against recognition. Therefore, gay marriage will not be coming to Australia via the country's parliament under the current government. From Reuters:

The decision by Abbott to use parliamentary tactics to thwart the libertarian wing of his Liberal Party comes just six months after he narrowly survived a party room coup and amid dismal polls that have reignited speculation over his future.

In the Australian parliament, crossing the floor is extremely rare and lawmakers can face severe retribution up to expulsion if they defy the party to vote against their colleagues. The coalition's current position is against same-sex marriage.

Public opinion is strongly in favor of legalizing the practice but Abbott, a socially conservative Catholic, has maneuvered to head off a free vote.

On Tuesday, Abbott called a rare meeting of the full coalition party room to decide the issue. The presence of right-wing coalition partner The Nationals overwhelmed support for a free vote among Abbott's Liberals by a ratio two to one.

In American terms, the Liberal Party would be seen as moderate conservatives (hence the "libertarian" reference) and the Nationals are further to the right. There are some members of the Liberal Party who would vote for gay marriage recognition, but not in defiance of the party orders. A Liberal Party member co-sponsored legislation with the country's Labor Party (left liberals, in American terms), but it's not likely to get anywhere because of the refusal to permit a conscience vote.

Abbott, acknowledging the country's public opinion (more than 70 percent support gay marriage in polls), is suggesting a national referendum after next year's elections. Obviously, the Labor Party will use this unpopular decision to try to diminish the power of the ruling Coalition.

Perhaps Australia's Liberal Democratic Party will benefit as well. That's Australia's actual libertarian party. If there are libertarian-leaning folks in the Liberal Party unhappy with the coalition, they could always go join up with the libertarians. They have a senator, David Leyonhjelm, whom we've interviewed here at Reason. He also tried to push forward legislation to legalize gay marriage recognition last year, but was unsuccessful for the same reason as this latest attempt. 

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  1. Ugh… I feel better already.

  2. “Its”

    1. Inexcusable.

      1. It’s literally unexcusable.

        1. No idea what you guys are talking about.

          [Walks away whistling]

          1. Why do you get an edit button?

            1. Some animals are more equal than others.

          2. We’re talking about the PM LYNX, Scott!


    2. Expecting Millennials to know sixth grade grammar is probably some sort of microaggression.

  3. GHEY!

  4. Public opinion is strongly in favor of legalizing the practice but Abbott, a socially conservative Catholic, has maneuvered to head off a free vote.

    Shocked, I am.

    1. Okay, you are shocked, but are you chagrined?

    2. Fair go, mate. Fair suck of the sauce bottle. Fair crack of the whip.

    3. He’s just following orders from the Pope, like Eddie.


    4. Too bad that Australia doesn’t have a Supreme Court empowered to determine and enforce the dictates of people’s consciences.

  5. Although a subject I’m utterly bored of.

  6. There are some members of the Liberal Party who would vote for gay marriage recognition, but not in defiance of the party orders. A Liberal Party member co-sponsored legislation with the country’s Labor Party (left liberals, in American terms), but it’s not likely to get anywhere because of the refusal to permit a conscience vote.

    Ah the stately beauty of the parliamentary system. So much more civilized than the Yank Republican model. When will the US ever join the world in adopting the vegemite of legislative bodies?

    1. If we can’t even HTML tag things properly, I hardly think we’re ready to be more like Europe. Or Oceana!

      Oh, and I can’t resist: You know who wouldn’t defy Party Orders?

      1. Who else?

        Still sounds right.

    2. NY & NJ have long been like that. I forgot what they call the equivalent of a conscience vote in NY; maybe “conscience vote”.

  7. But It’s Citizens Might

    And yet we lost [redacted].

    And while the American system is super fucked up, the parliamentary systems around the world continue to baffle me. I don’t understand the pining that some people have for them, other than the hope that there would be greater majoritarian rule (and that the speaker’s values will always be upheld by the majority).

    1. I think it’s literally that in any parliament (FPTP or Proportional or whatever), your Top Men have all the power. If you use riding-style voting, theoretically the parliament member can leave the party while retaining the seat. However, he loses an immense amount of clout by sitting as an independent, and is less able to assist his constituents (in theory, his task is to work for the benefit of them to the best of his abilities). In most proportional systems, seat belongs to the party so if you don’t like it, fuck you. Thus, Top Men have it under control – except when they don’t, as is happening almost everywhere, with majority governments becoming harder to form.
      US system is fucked up, but at least your congress critters serve some purpose other than voting as RNC/DNC tells them 100% of the time.

    2. I don’t understand the pining that some people have for them

      For the 22 people that find themselves as a perennial political underdog, there’s a kind of wistful hope that in a parliamentary system, we’d at least get SOME seats as opposed to the winner-take-all system we have now.

      I just want one so American politics would be more like In The Loop. Instead, we’re more like Veep.

      1. Except that most parliamentary systems I can think of are winner-take-all. What those people might want is proportional represent’n rather than single-rep districts, and you can have p.r. w/o a parliamentary system. They’re separate issues.

        However, the simplest way to get prop. rep. is party-list elections. Since the parties determine in advance the order you get to pick their candidates as winners, you wind up with a very strong party system even if the form of gov’t is not parliamentary. Of course that makes no difference to the tiniest of parties, which might hope at best to get 1 rep elected.

    3. The main thing about a parliamentary system AFAICT is the merger of legislative & executive functions of gov’t. When your ministers (appointed admins.) come from (& remain part of) the legislature, the parties hold enormous sway over their elected members.

      Somehow, though (probably because of “lulu” spending availability, maybe other incentives), NY & NJ have a very strong party system even with completely separate executive & legislative offices.

    1. Absolutely.

      Oh, did you mean political parties?

  8. Lets not let this get in the way of pm links.

    1. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than AM/PM links threads.

      1. I know. I can’t wait. I’m in a mood.

        1. Up and down like a bride’s nightie / up and down like a dunny seat

        2. Is it that time of the month? Got blood comin’ out of your eyes?

          1. It is hard to tell if blood is coming out the eyes of those fake blondes with hideously huge eyelashes.

        3. I know. I can’t wait. I’m in a mood.

          Your portfolio tanking too, huh?

          1. Nah. Nothing long, a mid-sized short position which is still a trifle in the red.

            But I’m optimistic about my pessimism!

      1. Not me.

        Starts with an “S” and ends with a “hackford”.

        1. Show idea: Hackford Files. A reporter who lives in a trailer solves crimes and gets into adventures and shit.

          1. Assisted by a delightful redhead and a steely-eyed blonde?

  9. Australia won’t be joining the United States and Ireland in legalizing same-sex marriage recognition in the very near future

    Likewise, the United States won’t be joining Australia and Ireland in legalizing human-kangaroo marriage recognition in the very near future.

    1. To be fair, Ireland only recognizes human-kangaroo marriages if both parties are practicing Catholics.

      1. To be fair, Ireland only recognizes human-kangaroo marriages if both parties are practicing Catholics.

        The domestic violence potential in such relationships is way, way off the charts.

        1. Do you know how drunk you have to be to make a kangaroo look sexy?

          1. Isn’t the real question:

            How drunk does the kangaroo need to be?

        2. The domestic violence potential in such relationships is way, way off the charts.

          Quit projecting! Those studies were flawed! Quit disrupting the narrative!

    2. But will a Christian bakery have to bake a wedding cake for a human-kangaroo wedding?

      1. Of course, and it’s all because of SSM.

        1. “Tie me kangaroo down, mate!” Never mind — thought you said “all because of BDSM.”

          1. In his defense, after you die on the first 20 to 30 hills, you start to run out of hills to die on and have to start making them up as you go along.

      2. Oy! The Kangaroos loose in the top paddock, fair suck of the sav!

  10. who cares what a penal colony full of thieves and rapists thinks?

    1. Well.. someone had to say it.. Thank you for your courage..

  11. Wait, I had something for this… something about “women glow and men plunder…”

    1. Better than a ham sandwich. Better than a kick up the backside.

      1. Shunning the boot is a bootable offence..

      2. Better than a ham sandwich.

        But is it better than a Vegemite sandwich?

  12. in legalizing same-sex marriage recognition

    That’s an awkward phrase.

    1. Well, in the community it’s called LSSMR.

    2. May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down

    3. In recognizing same-sex marriage legalization.

    4. Try it with an Australian accent.

    5. Baby steps. First we have to legalize the reckanize.

    6. Is it illegal to recognize same sex marriages in Australia now?

      I don’t mean, does the state license them. I mean, if you, personally, treat a same-sex couple as married, are you breaking a law?

  13. In American terms, the Liberal Party would be seen as moderate conservatives (hence the “libertarian” reference) and the Nationals are further to the right.

    I’ve never heard of libertarians being a species of moderate conservatives. Moderates are generally defined by their pragmatism and rhetorical support for principals.

    1. If you asked American political analysts to classify libertarians, many would count them as moderate “conservatives”, just based on the way opinions on issues have been shaking out. They might recognize that libertarians differ from conservatives in kind, but decide that they’re too few in number to distinguish as such, & therefore lump them with moderate conservatives.

  14. Meanwhile, the Australian left is still reeling from the disastrous carbon tax they put in place before the current government was voted in to make sure that never happens again.

    “Public opinion is strongly in favor of legalizing the practice but Abbott, a socially conservative Catholic, has maneuvered to head off a free vote.”

    They may be getting this backwards.

    By forcing a free vote, he may be sending the referendum to an electorate that’s a lot more socially conservative on the question of gay marriage than the members of Australia’s parliament. In fact, given that Australia’s natural resource based economy is hurting because of China’s ongoing economic problems, if anything, I suspect Abbot may be working this as a wedge issue.

    Socially conservative unionized coal workers may split with Labor if they think voting coalition is about voting for heterosexuality and against a carbon tax. Remember, it isn’t about whether Labor voters support gay marriage; it’s about the swing voters. …and everyone in Australia is forced to vote by law.

    P.S. Why are they calling out Abbot for being Catholic? Is it standard practice to call out the religion of the people we’re writing about these days?

    Representative John Smith, “a goddam atheist”, headed off a vote to ban abortion today?

    I hope I never see a Representative Mohammed Abdul called out as “a fucking Muslim” for voting against warrantless wiretapping.

    1. Diabolical!1!

    2. Also, please correct me if I’m wrong here Ken, Australia already has most of the anti-LGBT discrimination standards and ‘equal’ government handouts that we lack here in the States.

      1. I guess I should say, they seem more progressive in their social programs and less federated in their embrace of homosexuality/gay marriage. So, it’s less meaningful to talk about Australia, as a whole, when discussing gay marriage.

        Everybody, married or not, gets overwhelmingly similar handouts, so married v. unmarried wrt handouts is a little less meaningful.

        1. I don’t know much about Australia’s welfare programs.

          I think the way Australia handles Social Security is interesting.

          They have a social security system like ours that guarantees certain payments to people over 65–but those payments are means tested.

          In addition, they require that employers and employees contribute a certain portion of their paychecks to savings for retirement.


          If the only way to get rid of Social Security in the U.S. is to move to a system like that, where instead of payments going to the government (and the government spending it), you’re forced to save the money yourself, then I think that’s a big step in the right direction.

          It’s like the difference between a tax and being forced to save your money. And the more money people save for their own retirement, the fewer of them qualify for means tested social security.

    3. Ken, no. It is important to expose and ridicule group think predicated upon color, creed, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, or sexual orientation – even if those in the group have their feelings hurt.

    4. Hell, I’m wondering if they have ever referred to a “socially conservative Muslim”. Because I’m pretty sure being an observant Muslim requires serious social conservatism.

  15. I’ve always found it ridiculous that there are so many on the left who seem to imagine that the Europeans, in particular, are so much more advanced, sophisticated, and forward thinking than we are–never mind their antisemitism, their racism against blacks, or that their immigration polices are more restrictive than ours.

    I’m not saying this is what’s necessarily going on in this article, but just for the record, if admiring the Europeans for being more sophisticated and forward thinking than we are is ridiculous, then admiring the Australians for that is fucking absurd.

    1. their racism against blacks,

      Yeah, you mean their racism against everything not them. I’ve posted at length on this subject before, but no one does racism like Europeans. They have it refined to a complex, nuanced fine art.

      1. In fact, I suspect some of the American left’s admiration for Europeans stems from European disdain for anyone that isn’t them.

        American progressives think, “Well, they have nothing but contempt for us for being American, and we have nothing but contempt for average Americans, too. Hey everybody, listen to the Europeans! They know what they’re talkin’ about.”

      2. You mean that the streets of Paris or Dublin or Munich or Prague or Moscow or Vienna or Barcelona or Rome or Venice or Galway or Bristol or Cork or Limerick or Portsmouth or Calais or Geneva or Brussels are filled with the blood of black people who were assaulted, battered, beaten, shot or tazed by the state’s white privileged purveyors of violence?

    2. Most of the left-tards who fetishize Europe have never actually been there. They just think the accents sound so much more sophisticated and intellectual than ours.

      1. Meh. The thing we really admire is their robuster welfare states and hence more economic equality. I went to school in the UK for a time and was a little shocked at how comparatively leisurely their system was. I think the US is punishing in both schooling and the workforce, and we’re probably better off in some ways for it. The people seem, I dunno, smaller in their outlook and ambitions, and definitely not any more intelligent than my American acquaintances. Of course America does stupid spectacularly too, because our idiots also lack humility.

        I say we keep our system of education rigorous but make working life less hellish, and of course expand the safety net to include heatlhcare and post-high-school education. All in the service of keeping our country smart, innovative, and wealthy while also not miserable. Also, tax the parasite class to oblivion. They’re ruining the world and building bunkers. (That would be the people libertarians spend their entire worthless lives calling heroes and defending their wealth.)

        1. I see you managed to overlook how much poorer they are, as nations, than the US.

          And, yeah, a great place to evaluate the quality of life of the working, and non-working man, is from a university quad.

          1. +1

            Economic equality?

            Does he know what their GDP per capita is?

            France: $42,736
            Germany: $47,627
            UK: $45,603

            USA: $54,629


            $11,893 more per person than France.
            $7,000 more per person than Germany.
            $9,026 more per person than the UK.

            Greater income equality? Equally poorer than we are, that’s for sure.

            1. For a value Tony might not immediately dismiss, what is the average income of the 99% there versus here? If you have it to hand. GDP, after all, is a shit measure of national prosperity.

              1. From the link:

                “GDP is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products.”

                Notice it’s all in U.S. dollars.

                The Europeans would have a hard time distributing between 13% less GDP per capita (Germany) and 22% less GDP per capita (France) than the U.S. has to distribute–and come out higher on average. Especially when you consider that the U.S. is distributing that money over 300 million+ and neither France, Germany, or the U.K. has anywhere near that number of people by themselves.

                And I’m not talking about the government distributing that productive wealth. I’m talking about employers distributing that wealth to their employees.

                Anyway, here’s how the three countries compare in two measures according to this data (from Gallup and OECD respectively):

                Median Pre-tax Household Income in U.S. Dollars:

                France: $31,112
                Germany: $33,333
                U.K.: $31,617

                United States: $43,585

                This is a measure of average disposable household income:

                France: $24,233
                Germany: $25,528
                U.K.: $21,033

                United States: $30,616


                By any measure, the Europeans should be envious of us.

                By no measure, should Americans be envious of them.

              2. One of the reasons I suspect they let 16 year olds drink in London is because very few of them can afford to own a car and their parents can’t afford to buy them one either.

        2. You want a 100% tax on politicians and government workers? That parasite class?

    3. Where “European” = “anything other than American”, I suppose, since this article’s about Australia!

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