Australian Parliament Votes Down Equal Marriage Rights

September 24th, 2012

A man in an airplane wonders midflight: "Why does everyone in this time machine have an Aussie accent? I'm starting to think we're not travelling to the past at all..."

I’ve always thought that Canada and Australia are similar in a lot of ways. It’s kind of like a parallel Canada with a warmer climate, more poisonous animals, and a superior electoral system. And now, like Canada once did, it’s going through some setbacks in its transition on the path to equal marriage rights.

Australia’s parliament voted down an equal marriage bill last week in a vote of 98 to 42. It’s a big disappointment for a lot of same-sex couples who will now have to wait before getting the same civil benefits that opposite-sex couples have.

Canada had some similar votes, not long ago. In 1995, Canadian parliament rejected a bill that would have allowed for civil unions by a vote of 128 to 52. Then, in 1999 parliament passed a motion affirming the legal definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” by a vote of 215 to 55. Yet, almost four years later to the day, Ontario was finally issuing legal same-sex marriages. Before two more years could pass, nearly all the provinces had followed suit. On July 20, 2005 (coincidentally, the anniversary of my coming out date) a parliamentary vote had given equal marriage rights to every single Canadian, six years after an overwhelming defeat for equality in the house of commons.

So, to my friends in Australia: I wouldn’t fret too much over this setback. According to polls, popular support is already on your side, and—more importantly—so is history. You might be a few years behind Canada in rights, and more than a few degrees above Canada in temperature, but thanks to everyone keeping up the good fight, you’re still ahead of many other countries around the world and I’m utterly convinced you’ll be enjoying full equality much sooner than later. Keep it up!