Coalition’s downplay-and-delay strategy has failed
The Coalition’s strategy of downplaying the importance of marriage equality and delaying a decision about a conscience vote until after the election clearly hasn’t worked, writes Rodney Croome.
This election has seen more MPs shift to support marriage equality than ever before.
Coalition MPs like Kelly O’Dwyer and Teresa Gambaro have come out in favour of reform, having previously opposed it.
Labor MPs like Michael Danby and David Feeney have pledged to vote for it, having previously abstained.
This is in part because of Australian Marriage Equality’s election strategy.
All of the MPs I’ve mentioned have faced AME leafleting campaigns in their electorates.
It is in part because local campaigners and supporters within parties have worked hard to ensure election candidates cannot avoid the issue.
It is in part because the Australians who support marriage equality – gay and straight – have been willing to take a stand by contacting their candidates.
It is in part because the time for reform has come.
We can be sure there’s a happy confluence of activism and social change at play because the shift in support goes beyond the high-profile MPs I’ve mentioned.
Preliminary results from AME’s election survey show almost 70% of Labor candidates support marriage equality, while more Coalition candidates are in support than ever before.
Even in the Palmer, Katter and One Nation parties there are candidates who support and have been given a conscience vote.
The immediate implication of all this is that the Coalition’s strategy of downplaying the importance of marriage equality and delaying a decision about a conscience vote until after the election clearly hasn’t worked.
It remains a key issue election issue while the growing number of Coalition candidates who support reform have their hands tied by the absence of a conscience vote.
The Coalition has been wedged from the left by Kevin Rudd’s commitment to a resolving the issue quickly and from the right by parties with a more enlightened policy.
The bigger implication is that marriage equality won’t go away, even if the Coalition wins government and tries to douse the issue.
The marriage equality commitment shown by so many Australians during this election won’t be diminished by something as relatively ephemeral as the political stripe of our government.
The issue is here to stay until reform is finally achieved.