Gillard’s Marriage Equality Support 'Too Late'
27 August 2015 at 11:35 am
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced her support of marriage equality, but advocates are critical that her change of mind has come after her political career ended.
“We welcome Julia Gillard’s decision because it shows that even the most high profile opponents of marriage equality can open their hearts to the reform,” Australian Marriage Equality National Director, Rodney Croome, said.
“But we urge other political leaders not to wait until it is too late for them to show leadership in Parliament, as Ms Gillard has done.”
Gillard, who voted against a Marriage Equality Bill in 2012 despite being an atheist in a de facto relationship, spoke about her changed views at the Michael Kirby Lecture at Melbourne’s College of Law and Justice on Wednesday night.
"I am aware that this vote by me was viewed as odd by many given what they know of my broader values,” Gillard said.
“Given the 1970s feminist in me saw much to be concerned with from a gender perspective with traditional marriage, I thought the better approach was not to change the old but to create something new through civil unions.
"In my time post-politics, as key countries have moved to embrace same-sex marriage, I have identified that my preferred reform direction was most assuredly not winning hearts and minds."
Gillard said she assumed the Coalition would allow a conscience vote and Parliament would “inevitably” amend the Marriage Act.
"My position would have been overtaken by history, something which would have caused me no heartburn," she said.
“Now, given the discussion of a plebiscite or a referendum, I find myself in a world where these assumptions have been upended… I think it is vital that the proposal for a plebiscite or referendum is put to one side.”
Gillard called for a conscience vote after the next federal election, prompting marriage equality advocates to again condemn Prime Minister Tony Abbott for keeping the possibility of a referendum alive.
“The High Court has already defined marriage in the Constitution, making a referendum unnecessary,” Croome said.
“Continued discussion of this incredibly expensive and dead-end option is a slap in the fact to the High Court and to our system of government.”