Co-operation is the key to equality
There are now four marriage equality bills before federal parliament.
In the House of Representatives there’s a Labor bill and a Green/independent bill.
In the Senate, the Greens and Labor were working on a joint bill, but last week the process collapsed and now there’s two separate bills there too.
There has been a lot of recrimination and spin about why the hoped-for co-sponsored Senate bill never eventuated.
But whoever is to blame the result is Labor now has complete control over how and when the debate and vote is conducted in both Houses.
My hope is the well-intentioned and honourable Labor politicians who are sponsoring the Labor bills are free to ensure the best outcome for marriage equality.
If, in a few weeks, you hear the Prime Minister announce there was a sudden vote in both houses the night before which was lost, “so now we can all move on”, you’ll know friends of equality weren’t calling the shots.
But the bigger issue here is co-operation.
Opponents of marriage equality do not let old enmities divide them.
Liberal or Labor, Catholic or Protestant, Murdoch or Fairfax - they work so closely together it’s impossible to see any light between them.
Until the supporters of equality do the same, reform will be much harder to achieve than it should be.
The overseas experience illustrates this only too well.
Marriage equality failed repeatedly in the New York state legislature until Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped in, knocked some heads together and forged a unified campaign.
The fact this can happen in Australia is shown by the high level of co-operation we see at a state level.
In Tasmania, marriage equality legislation is being co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens’ Leader, Nick McKim.
In South Australia, Green MP, Tammy Franks, and Labor Minister, Ian Hunter, have already co-sponsored a marriage equality bill, while the Liberals have got on-board with a conscience vote.
Both states are working together with the ACT to ensure state marriage equality legislation is the best it can be.
If marriage equality happens at a state level before it occurs nationally, this type of co-operation will be a major reason why.