During all the hoopla this week, I didn’t get to mention that Australia had a change in power. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is back in charge after toppling Julia Gillard as leader of the Labor Party. One day after being re-sworn in and a month after writing a blog post announcing his reversal on marriage, yesterday Rudd used his first press conference to suggest placing the issue to a national vote if the opposition party does not allow a conscience vote in Parliament. Unsurprisingly, gay activists do not want marriage on the ballot.
Marriage equality advocates are thrilled the Mr Rudd has spoken about the issue in his first major media event, but do not support his call for a public vote. Rodney Croome, the national convenor of Australian Marriage equality, said a process of a referendum would be “unnecessarily expensive”. He also said while he believed the majority of Australians would vote for marriage equality, he was concerned was about the process. “We have consistently opposed a national plebiscite or referendum on marriage equality for a number of reasons,” Mr Croome said. “It could potentially be deeply polarising, becoming a platform for fear-mongering against the gay and lesbian community, and we think that our politicians are elected to make these kinds of decisions, rather than hand-balling them back to the voters. “It could be quite destructive… particularly for young, same-sex attracted people coming to terms with their sexuality. “They don’t need to see the kind of fear and hate campaigns that I feel would inevitably come out during a referendum.”