I said I’d take a look at the Senate Hansard for 17 Sept when it came out, and here it is. On Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012, there were eight senators who spoke. Some were amazing, others were saddening, and Sen Ronald Boswell was outright disturbing. I cannot believe he truly represents his electorate.
SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens (And of Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 fame) was eloquent, and absolutely unsurprisingly, she was Pro Marriage Equality. She emphasised how far we had come, explained that this was a logical extension of the Menzies philosophy of anti-discrimination (Menzies introduced the Marriage Act 1961 to ensure that all states treated interracial marriage the same.) She challenges Gillard to actually articulate her reasons for opposing marriage equality and accuses Gillard and Abbott of jointly blocking progress.
QLD Senator and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, George Brandis. Who said “Some say it is an issue about discrimination. It is certainly a question about the meaning of marriage. But let us not forget the context here. It is also a debate about dishonesty.” He points out that Gillard promised that she would not move to change the definition of marriage in her 2010 election promises. He suggests that the Labor party simply revel in doing whatever they want regardless of their promises, pointing to the Marriage Amendment Bill and their elation at passing Carbon Price as evidence. He goes on to attack Senator Hanson-Young on the views of “people like [her]” i.e. not on her views at all. Brandis winds up saying that he believes that legal discrimination against people on the basis of their sexuality ended in the 2008 legislative changes allowing Same-sex couples to qualify as “de facto”.
Dear Senator Brandis: There must be a field somewhere missing its scarecrow – your argument against Hanson-Young’s sincerity by pointing to others of the progressive left is clearly a straw man… And as for the Labor party elation thing, maybe they’re happy that they’ve been able to do the right thing… either way I would advise the Party of the Non-Core-Promise to be careful about throwing stones…
WA Liberal Senator, Chris Back lost in his first paragraph: “It states that marriage is ‘a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. These words of course go back to the earliest known writings.” Wrong. Quite recently (~2000 years ago in Western cultures, and still today in many arabic nations) marriage was seen as the union of one man and many women. To the exclusion of women the man has not and does not marry (unless the woman is barren, in which case her servant may be suitable or any number of other cases) and any other men. He fails further by suggesting that being unable to get married to the person I love is like being unable to call myself Senator because I feel like it. This is fallacious. I can go through the motions to become a Senator; I cannot go through the motions to have my relationship recognised as equal! He also suggests that we use propaganda. For once, the Honorable Senator Back is correct. We do. We use material to present and promote or propagate our views among the rest of the populace. We use form letters to communicate our will to our politicians. No wonder you see “slogans” such as “I support marriage equality and I urge you to do the same”… it’s part of a form letter – if you can’t understand the concept of a form letter, how did you get into Parliament! We use these tools in exactly the same ways our opponents do. From us you see propaganda along the lines of “Equal Love, Equal rights”, from opponents of marriage equality, propaganda such as “Children need a mother and a father”.
Tas Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens, announced again her support of Marriage Equality. She reiterated that discrimination is taking place. She exposes the two lies that appear over and over in this debate, that children will be denied information about their biological parentage, and that ministers will be forced to conduct same sex marriage. She explains, clearly and simply that both of these scaremongering falsehoods are outright lies. She put forward that she believes the timing of the bills to be a political ploy to get Gay Marriage off the table before the election. She denounces the ALP for kowtowing to Joe de Bruyn and the SDA Employees union. She attacks Brandis for dragging the Carbon Price into the marriage equality debate. She slams Abbott for denying his party members a conscience vote. And she states that the Liberal party have moved to the right of Genghis Khan. Senator Milne ran out of time before making her closing statements.
WA Senator Mark Bishop of the ALP speaks on “issues of importance and priority, issues of equity, social justice and discrimination, and issues that go to the heart, the very nature, of the marriage relationship.” Importance and priority, he suggests that the lobbying and correspondence he has received on the issue of marriage equality “is not on any significant scale at all” Dear residents of Bishop’s seat, might I request that you bury him in correspondence, requests to meet, and lobbying in the coming weeks. He plays the “I have gay friends” card and argues that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in this country. He says that marriage equality impinges on the rights of children. He finishes up saying that civil unions should be enough in a secular society and that that is proper, but traditional marriage should stay exactly that.
QLD Senator Ronald Boswell, of the National Party: Oh how I’ve been looking forward to this part of the Hansard. What we see from our senator is unadulterated, disgusting sexism and homophobia. “Two mothers or two fathers cannot raise a child properly. Who takes a boy to football?” I say Parents. “Who tells him what is right from wrong?” Parents. “What does he do—go along with the two mums?” Yes. “How does he go camping and fishing?” With his two mothers, who are equally as capable of erecting a prefab structure as a male parent. “And what about a young girl changing from a teenager into a young woman? Is it fair to say to her, ‘You don’t have a mother; your mother can’t take you shopping’ or to not be able to help her understand how her body is changing?” No, it’s not, and frankly, if a man doesn’t understand at least on a basic level how a woman’s body changes, society has failed him, at some point he completely missed out on basic personal development education. Telling of his basic opinion in his *shudder* speech is the following statement:
“Once you have gay marriage in law, you have normalised the law, you have normalised homosexual marriage in law, which forces the normalisation of homosexual behaviour in the wider culture”
You read it right. “forces the normalisation of homosexual behaviour in the wider culture” – How could we possibly think that normalisation of homosexual behaviour is a good idea. Oh wait! Isn’t that exactly the case the pro marriage equality side have been putting forward, that it normalises homosexual relationships?
Finally, “There is absolutely no discrimination against gay people other than the discrimination between heterosexual and same-sex marriage.” So the Honorable Senator Boswell states unequivocally that he recognises the discrimination exists. He actively states that he recognises discrimination exists and he is actively campaigning to maintain it.
Last to speak on this topic was WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert whose second sentence was this:
We really demean marriage when we use it in this way to discriminate and act prejudicially towards some members of our community.
She really pokes at Bishop’s statement about not being important enough for correspondence, once at the start, and again later when she talks about the Senate Inquiry for Hanson-Young’s Marriage Equality Amendment Bill.
There were 75,000 submissions recorded—the highest on record for a Senate inquiry, I believe.
She talks about the impact of gay marriage in other countries, points out that their societies are still very much intact, if not better off. She restates the Greens’ ongoing commitment to marriage equality. and finishes by stating that:
All we are asking for is to treat same-sex couples equally. That is why it is called marriage equality.We will be supporting this bill because it is what Australians want and, in particular, because it is the right thing to do, so that the very important institution of marriage does not discriminate, does not judge, does not show prejudice against one section of our community. I will certainly be supporting this bill. I believe that our older political parties also need to be showing that leadership and supporting this bill.
I encourage you to read these speeches for yourselves. I’ve condensed about 2 hours 30 minutes of speeches into two shortish blog postings.