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Gillard not wonderful: opposes gay marriage

Julia Gillard has said she opposes gay marriage. Why? She doesn’t say. But there has to be a reason, so what could they be?

1. She dislikes it and thinks she can impose her preferences on everyone no matter what the implications or rights of those concerned.

2. She is a pragmatist and thinks that she could suffer some electoral backlash if she supported it, even though most Australians support it.

3. She is actually kowtowing to the religious influences that were so active in the Rudd government (and, given Conroy’s persistence, still are).

None of these are good reasons, but they exhaust the likely options. So Gillard took precisely three days to reach the level of Rudd and Abbott. So much for the Messiah. She’s not the Messiah, she’s a very nasty girl.


  1. fvngvs fvngvs

    “…she’s a very nasty girl…”

    John, John, John,…
    She’s a politician; why are you surprised?

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      Did I say I was surprised?

      • fvngvs fvngvs

        No. you didn’t.

        Equally, you left out case (4): Unconsidered statements (see also: talking crap) that should probably be treated with ignore.

        I’m going to (gracfully) skate past the Ludlam/Lundy debacle.

      • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

        Almost nothing that Gillard is saying right now is unconsidered.

  2. Brian Brian

    Yep, honeymoon is over.

  3. fvngvs fvngvs

    …that’s *gracefully*

    One day I will learn to spell wright.

  4. djlactin djlactin

    Why read political/religious motivations into this? Maybe she just doesn’t like the idea. Period. (Canadian here; no vested interests.)

  5. Good point dj, that should be like point #1 IMHO….

  6. Neil Neil

    Howard turned 12% of formerly rusted on Labor voters into swing voters. Labor needs them to stay in office. If this bit of, yes, nastiness, is what is needed to avoid an Abbott government, it us worth it. She does, after all, support gay equality in practice and policy. In Australia we don’t face the choice of supporting the less bad in order to avoid the more; thanks to preferential voting, you can vote your principles. I will vote Green as usual. But Gillard hasn’t done anything to forfeit my second preference.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      I’m sorry, Neil, but Labor are so regressive socially now that I hardly think of them as a progressive and fair party any more. Abbott is going to be as bad as Howard, but fuck, so was Rudd, and so is Gillard, at least outside the industrial arena. The Greens are at best the only alternative, otherwise you can vote for LibLab, with a choice of who you want to roll back your civil liberties and standard of living to serve the corporate owners. And I’m not all that happy about the Greens with Clive Hamilton as a candidate.

  7. For the life of me, I still can’t understand why marriage has anything to do with the state outside of the enforcement of whatever contractual obligations are involved in such a union. In the US, at least, it’s a truly bizarre legal phenomenon. You can’t even equate a marriage “license” with a driver’s license, because there’s no issue of safety or use of public property involved.

    As far as I can tell, the only reason marriage is specifically recognized and regulated by the state is to make it easier for government to implement pro-family social engineering, such as targeted tax breaks and whatnot (which presumably it cannot do if it merely treats a marriage contract like any other).

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      That’s pretty much how I see it, too.

  8. Neil Neil

    I really think the claim that Labor is as bad as Howard is silly. I could go through a list of policy area (gay equality being one : Labor extended full partner benefits) in which Labor is clearly better, and I can’t think of one in which the converse is true. On each of them, you could say “not good enough” and be right, but the differences make a difference to people”s lives, and especially the lives of the most vulnerable. If these differences require pandering to the Howard barriers, 1 million xenophobes, then there is a strong case for paying the price. Like many who are focused on the web, I suspect you are over motivated by Conroy. The plan is bad, but not all that important.

  9. HP HP

    What are the odds that Gillard would personally “oppose” (e.g., “have issues with”, think “icky”) gay marriage, yet not politically oppose (e.g., engage in obstructivist activities within the context of parliamentarian politics) any legislative attempts to make it happen in Australia, in accord with the will of the majority of Australians? In other words, is her personal opposition to gay marriage a predictor of whether gay marriage will be legalized during her tenure as P.M.?

    N.B.: I don’t live in a country with a parliamentarian government, and I find Australia’s political compass only slightly less baffling than Brazil’s.

  10. I think the most charitable interpretation is that there’s a will among the Australian political classes to render formal marriage obsolete by stealth. I.e. give de factos the same benefits as those with formally-registered marriages, give gay de factos the same benefits as straight de factos, gradually get to the point where marriage has no real legal meaning, and thus get the state out of the marriage business. I could support that, if it’s what’s going on. But it’s not something any politician could actually say to the electorate.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      That is charitable. Also, very unlikely. The “political classes” are no more enlightened or liberal than the population they represent, and in some cases are appreciably less so. I think Gillard is simply a social conservative in the nonpolitical sense of that term.

      • I think that some public servants involved in the policy formulation actually do view it that way – not something I can prove, though.

  11. cranium cranium

    Rightly or wrongly I generally try to sum things up at the simplest level.

    F’rinstance, on the mining tax:

    Coalition policy – encourage miners to go for broke and get as much coin as possible as quickly as possible and let them keep it. Keep wages down as low as possible.
    When the holes are all empty, all the miners sit back on their wads. The workers are unemployed. The government has no money to do anything about any of it.

    Labor policy – additional tax on miners. Mining slows down. Workers fairly paid. Some lose jobs in mining but get employed in infrastructure development or new energy sectors paid for by the mining tax.
    Resources last longer. Even when they do run out, government has funds, infrastructure is in place and there is alternative employment.

    I would have liked to think Julia would change her stance on gay marriage once the election is out the way but judging by Conroy and Tony Burke (I think it was him) on Q&A a few weeks back, it would be an uphill struggle.

    Having Julia as PM is a start though.

  12. HP HP

    Actually, Russell Blackford (why are you still not in my RSS feed?), if that were what is going on, I would find that preferable to the kind of cataloged privileging of relationships that we see elsewhere in the world, especially considering my own checkered history with formally recognized relationships.

    Given Gillard’s participation in a de facto married-type relationship, that could give her the leverage to make this sort of change happen. And, hopefully, provide a model for the rest of the world.

  13. Gillard ‘more flexible’ on gay marriage”

    The question is will she agitate to continue the discrimination?

    Will she block a private members bill? will she insist on a vote on partly lines against any proposal?

    Just because she is not your Messiah doesn’t make here a very nasty girl.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      Just because PZ says it, doesn’t mean its wrong.

      [Which is what I say to students about Marx.]

  14. Allen Hazen Allen Hazen

    According to the headline in today’s (2.vii.2010) “Age” (internet version), she’s also caved in to the mining companies: mining tax to be reduced. Assuming that she is bright enough to have sensible beliefs about both this and gay marriage, she must be figuring that the Australian voters will be attracted to deeply reactionary policies, and that the only way for Labor to get re-elected is to present itself as Coalition-lite.

    • Neil Neil

      Not raising taxes on mining as much as we would both = “deeply reactionary politics”? Come on, Allen!

  15. I’m with Neil about the mining tax thing. Being prepared to negotiate about this and reach a deal is just sensible, pragmatic politics. That’s what Rudd should have done in the first place. Politics is the art of the possible, which means being prepared to negotiate with any constituency whose interests you are affecting adversely.

    This is part of what people hate about Conroy. Neil may be right that the filter is not a huge issue in the scheme of things – although I do think it opens up a lot of dangers. But what makes me angry from time to time is Conroy’s moralistic approach to the whole thing, sometimes going to close to labelling opponents as apologists for pedophiles. There’s no sense that he even considers his opponents to be legitimate. There’s no appearance that he’s willing to take into account the views of his opponents, cut a deal that gives the government something less than what it ideally wants, while giving some protection to legitimate interests that are adversely affected, and get on with things. I don’t know if such a deal is possible – I can’t see what it would be – but there’s an impression that he’s not even interested in what interests are adversely affected.

    Hawke was a great prime minister partly because he was able to make progress on many fronts by dealing with many constituencies in good faith. He may never have gained the ideal outcome in any one area, but his administration was highly competent and effective until it mishandled the early 90s recession, and by and large it took us forward. Rudd gave an impression of not understanding any of that. If Gillard does – and *shows* that she does – that’s all to the good even if the mining industry is the immediate beneficiary.

  16. Neil Neil

    Lest I be seen as an uncritical supporter of Labor, let me signal the big test which Gillard faces, and which I fear she will fail. In a few days, she will need to decide whether to extend the moratorium on processing Sri Lankan refugees. While I think that taking the symbolic (which is not to say unimportant) issue of gay marriage off the table and the compromise on the mining tax (which is actually a side-show; we on the left shouldn’t be all that concerned about this, given it was designed from the outset to offer tax breaks for small businesses) were smart political moves with costs worth paying, the asylum seekers issues is different. This is an issue on which I think Labor could carry the public if they argued hard enough (of course they would still have to introduce some less than ideal policy, but it would be better than what we have in place now). Rudd was panicked into trying to look tough. Early signs are that Gillard will not be better. But I desperately hope to be proven wrong.

  17. John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

    I do not care very much about the mining tax. I care a lot about my governments catering to special interests in ways that mean that taxation will hit the individual because the corporates are able to mount expensive and attitude-bending campaigns. Mostly I care that governments are so malleable by the oligarchy.

    On asylum seekers, why has there not been a strong informational campaign to point out that this xenophobia is not founded in reality? Why have governments simply caved into the worst of our angels, as Lincoln might have said? Gillard is a sail trimmer, just like everyone else in LibLab.

    • Neil Neil

      All of this is right, but it is also the reality. Given the way our information reaches us, given the power of the corporates, governments face the choice between sail-trimming and losing office. I won’t condemn Labor for trying to make lives better for the worst off; the choices are remain pure and watch the worst off suffer, or compromise.

      • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

        So we are arguing over the price, I mean, the optimal tradeoff? At some point sail trimming becomes unacceptable, even for the most pragmatic of Realpolitikers. I seem to think that it becomes unacceptable a fair bit earlier in the curve than you do. Perhaps I am a bit more cynical of motives and the effects of having a Labor (“progressive”) government that in the end does very little to improve the lives of the worst off, but hey, it’s in power…

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