Happy Sunday Australia,
It’s day 13 of #DearPM, and I’m lucky enough to be able to share the intelligent thoughts of podcaster and lawyer, Jeremy Sear.
Jeremy was one half of the Something Wonky podcast with Dave Gaukroger (from letter number 3) and shares an important perspective, as a lawyer and someone who believes in fairness and equality. If Dave is our real-life Mr Weasley, then Jeremy is Lupin. He looks out for the vulnerable and stands up for them, passionately and decisively.
I’ve had a few submission since yesterday, but there are stll days to fill! You can email your submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and take care,
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
27 November 2016
#DearPM: Marriage Equality (13 of 30)
To the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP,
It’s day 13 of the this letter writing campaign, with today’s submission from lawyer and podcast host Jeremy Sear. I’m so lucky to have the support of people who are much smarter and much better writers than me, to make the case for marriage equality.
Jeremy highlights a legal argument that I think you should consider: marriage equality is about gender equality. While a man can marry a woman, a woman does not have that same right. While a woman can marry a man, a man does not have that same right. And, let’s not forget transgender and non-binary people, who are excluded on all fronts, because we rarely consider them in our arguments for reform.
Jeremy shares his perspective and highlights the need for change:
Dear Mr Turnbull
Doesn’t every Prime Minister want a big positive achievement they can always look back on and be remembered for? You are lucky enough to have one staring you in the face.
I don’t need to explain to you why full equality before the law regardless of gender is a vital liberal (small l) principle, and why nothing less than full equality will ever resolve this issue. Of course you know it. You know what a dishonest and vicious lie the “children need heterosexual parents” line is. And most importantly, you know it is inevitable – you know it is a question of when, not if.
I’m sure you remember last year when the Irish referendum passed and suddenly MPs throughout both sides of parliament remembered that marriage equality is inevitable and they’d like to be the ones who got credit for it, not their opponents. You’re a smart man – you must know that if you don’t pass marriage equality, it will be the next Labor Prime Minister who gets that credit for the rest of their life.
I’m sure you remember how quickly and suddenly your predecessors suddenly lost power. You must know deep down that you are in no stronger position than they were. And it must have occurred to you how little they have to show for their brief time in office. Mr Howard has the national gun laws. Mr Rudd has to resort to “well I gave the apology to the Stolen Generation”. What do Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott have? Do you think Ms Gillard wishes she at least had marriage equality as her achievement, something Mr Abbott would not have been unable to undo?
To be honest, I don’t even want to suggest the following to you, because to me it’s the worst case scenario – but you even have something to sell to the right of your own party as a reason for them to pass marriage equality now: the chance for them to sneak in the sorts of exemptions they desperately want, that they may simply not have any leverage to obtain later. You know the sort of thing – “protections” to cover those who desperately want to engage in petty acts of spite against LGBTI people (you know, like with cakes) without legal consequence.
The far right of your party has this opportunity to get those sorts of terms locked in to the legislation now, in such a way that it will be a very long time, if ever, before the pressure could be raised to undo them. But that opportunity will soon be lost. (In a lot of ways, I hope the right of your party do squander their chance. I hope they stubbornly stick to their unpopular position so that when we get complete equality, they are not even at the table. I’m almost inclined to hope that you don’t realise that it’s something you can sell them.)
Or you could continue trying to pander to the right of your party on the issue on which they have the biggest disconnect with the community, lose power (sooner, as seems likely on present polling, or later) and have nothing to show for your time in office but an Australia that thinks of you as a “fizzer”.
It’s your call whether it’s you who stands up and gets credit for what you know is both right and inevitable, or whether it’s your successor.
You’re smart enough to know what history will say.
Jeremy Sear, Victoria
I wonder if you have ever considered marriage equality on the matter of gender:
- What advice does the Attorney General have for the Prime Minister about removing references of gender from the marriage act and making marriage between two consenting adults?
This is my thirteenth letter in a series calling for a free vote on marriage equality in the parliament, and in your current term. A free vote is the correct way to legislate for marriage equality. You could allow this to happen today.