Mass rebellion will win equal marriage rights

Issue 
Margarita Windisch speaking in Melbourne on August 17. Photo: Michael Barnett.

Margarita Windisch is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Victorian seat of Wills. This is an edited version of a speech she gave to a rally for equal marriage rights in Melbourne on August 17.

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Oscar Wilde once said that disobedience and rebellion are the original virtues of humanity.

It is through disobedience and rebellion that we have achieved real progress. This protest today is an important demonstration of rebellion against an unjust law.

I also congratulate you for being here and the many of you who will be committing an act of civil disobedience today — an illegal marriage — good on you.

It has been nine years since the then Howard government amended the marriage act and enshrined homophobia and second-class status for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community into law.

This law was passed with the full support of the ALP opposition at the time — a truly shameful act.

Next week, members of the LGBTI community will be able to get married in New Zealand.

We have had six years of Labor in power and we are still protesting. I don't know how you are feeling but I am god damn angry!

Let us be honest — not a single one of us should have to be here today.

What is wrong with our politicians? They have no problem legislating to send soldiers to the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan, cutting the sole parents pension or cutting higher education funding.

But they cannot legislate in favour of love? Are these the politicians we want to have running our country? I don't think so.

I never believed in miracles until I saw a true miracle happen a few months ago. One morning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd woke up and said: “I have changed my mind — I now support equal marriage rights.”

Well, surely Rudd deserves a big round of applause for finally joining us in the 21st century, it’s only been going for the last 13 years, congratulations Rudd; better late then never!

Meanwhile we all know Tony Abbott thinks of this issue. He is still stuck in the Middle Ages.

While the ALP has shifted on the issue of equal love, their policy allows ALP parliamentarians a “conscience vote”. This is simply unacceptable, and lets homophobic MPs off the hook.

Why does Labor have a “conscience vote” on equal marriage anyway? It doesn't have a conscience vote on other issues, such as sending asylum seekers to PNG or cutting sole parent pensions — even though Labor's policies on these issues violate the conscience of any decent human being.

The Socialist Alliance fully supports equal marriage, without a "conscience vote" cop-out and we don't support marriage laws that include exemptions for churches. There is no space in the 21st century for any institution to be allowed to discriminate against sections of the community.

Winning marriage equality is one important step towards rainbow liberation, but to eliminate homophobia we also need same-sex sex education in schools, universities and in the community.

We need to expand public housing to house young people thrown out of their homes by homophobic parents and we need funding injection to public health services to combat the social crisis homophobia creates.

One thing is clear. A victory on this front will be the result of an energetic, courageous and persistent mass movement that has demonstrated again and again that there is no place for discrimination in the 21st century.

This campaign has also given hope and inspired others to fight for their rights.

Whoever wins this election, supporters of equal marriage will have to continue the campaign, until members of parliament are forced to agree to the popular demand for marriage equality.

Let’s keep up the pressure and our hearts open.

Let us use our strength and diversity to also support others in need, and there are many who are fighting for basic civil and human rights.

Through these acts of solidarity we demonstrate our ability to build a better world where gender and sexuality have ceased to be political battlegrounds and we call all be proud of being simply human.

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