But don't add glitter to your vote
September 18, 2017 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Australians are receiving a special postal survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The survey asks one simple question that can only be answered yes or no: "Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?" The postal survey is a first for Australia - and not only is it not mandatory to vote in the survey, the results will not be legally binding.

The postal survey is proceeding after a challenge before the High Court was dismissed. Even before the challenge was dismissed, the campaign against same-sex marriage was in full swing, so that the Senate has passed laws banning vilification, intimidation and threats.

Meanwhile, support for same-sex marriage seems to have a strong geographic component. This isn't terribly surprising when you consider that most same-sex couples live in urban areas.

As for how to actually go about voting in the survey, it's pretty straightforward. Tick a box and return it in the reply-paid envelope. It is perfectly ok to decorate your vote with doodles of genitalia, politicians performing unsavoury acts or whatever you like - but don't add glitter or anything else to the envelope, or the ABS will reject it.

The mail-out of surveys started last week and it's predicted everyone should have received them by 25 September - but here's what to do if you don't get your survey or need a new one because you got carried away with doodling on your ballot paper.
posted by Athanassiel (88 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Senate has passed laws banning vilification, intimidation and threats.

This is rather like shutting the barn door after the horses have bolted, escaped the farm entirely, joined an ethically bankrupt 'christian' themed lobby group and proceeded to score airtime on every single news outlet spouting the most homophobic nonsense possible.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:30 AM on September 19 [24 favorites]


The worst thing about going through the gay marriage referendum in California was the idea that my neighbors were voting on my civil rights. I mean how fucking dare they? The public shouldn't even get the chance to express the opinion on whether my romantic life is legitimate. I mean sure the anti-gay bigots are the worst but the mere concept of a vote is offensive.

From what I read the polls are going for Yes, so that's good, but even so it's a tough time for LGBT folks in Australia. And all for a non-binding survey? Fuck that.
posted by Nelson at 12:31 AM on September 19 [59 favorites]


Attorney-General George Brandis will act as the postal survey’s watchdog and will have the power to decide whether alleged breaches of the new rules should be prosecuted.

Worth noting that this is George "People have the right to be bigots," Brandis, the guy that wanted to eliminate existing laws against hate speech, so the chances of him actually authorising action against the numerous homophobic lies of the No campaign are virtually zero.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:35 AM on September 19 [12 favorites]


There were so many links I could have added to this post - like the one about a 20% increase in LGBTIQ Australians accessing mental health services. The skywriting saying VOTE NO over Sydney. The woman who decided not to use a contractor for her business because they had installed a Facebook frame saying Vote No and how much grief she is copping for her decision. On the other side, I get a little lift every time I drive past a house, a cafe, a business, local councils all flying rainbow flags (and yes, of course I live close to the city).

The other incredibly frustrating thing about the whole business is that, as shown in the ABC's map (which I did link to), the seats which have the most homophobic MPs who are most adamant about voting no also have a population that is definitely in favour of yes. So much for representation. Of course if the vote comes back yes, we're only heading back to the same crappy lack of leadership and stalling we saw before - we'll just have spent $122 million on the stupid exercise.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:03 AM on September 19 [9 favorites]


I would like to see results that include whether the "no, gay marriage is not ok" people approve of interracial marriage, just to get an idea of who we're dealing with here.
posted by pracowity at 2:08 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


And, having just received my ballot, have found that the turd-wombles at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (of census fame) have also used possibly the most transparent envelope for my "confidential" ballot without resorting to cellophane.

Fear of having my vote tossed because some shit-muncher at the PO sorting office might fish out and destroy my "yes" vote is at war with the fear that if I do something to obscure my vote the ABS might toss it anyway.

I've settled for drawing a series of decoy ticks and marks on the inside of the envelope while the ballot itself has a single pristine tick on it.

This is what we have come to folks. Fuck these guys. I'm embarrassed to be Australian.
posted by ninazer0 at 2:12 AM on September 19 [18 favorites]


What's really frustrating, and predictable, is that the current push for Marriage Equality is suffering the homophobic kitchen-sinking of the No campaign: derision of 'Safe Schools' programmes, kids receiving modulated (to their ages) sex education throughout their school life that acknowledges and includes LGBTIQ relationships and this is bad apparently, boys being allowed to wear skirts to school, and Straights not having a 'choice' whatever the fuck that means (hint: basic homophobia) and that people voting No are going to be victimised. The No campaign's ads are absolutely appalling. It'd would be simply embarrassing backwardness if it wasn't for the overt signalling of simple disgust at gayness.

I was really impressed with this guy, Alexander, on QandA last night, he was perfect in his response to the shitstain of inexcusable homophobia provided by Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar. There may have been tears in this household. Brett Stephens giving an American perspective after a few years of marriage equality was also great.

I too, love seeing streets filling up with rainbow flags in my city 'hood. Let's get this done.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:21 AM on September 19 [14 favorites]


I felt really uncomfortable talking about the survey, because it horrified me that we're still debating this. And because as a straight white guy, I felt for a long time like it wasn't my place to speak on other's behalf - I try to be aware of when people make someone else's struggle about them. But after seeing the way the Brexit and Trump votes went down, and realising that a lot of the public do this 'othering' that allows them to abstract other people in the community away from being humans, maybe there's some value (maybe not) in making it uncomfortably personal for people who think it's "okay to vote no":

If you oppose same-sex marriage, then you're opposed to my marriage. We were married by a civil celebrant in a botanic garden. I'm an athiest. I don't give a damn for the sanctity of any religion. I don't believe for one second in some eternal hereafter we can only access if bound in matrimony. And a marriage certificate has zero impact on how much I love my wife. We married expressly and explicitly because the legal protections afforded by our marriage were immediately and automatically granted by the marriage certificate. We didn't have to prove co-residence, shared economic interests, a recorded history together, or meet any of the external metrics that even an unmarried hetero couple needs to in order to have their defacto relationship validated in court. More importantly, our married status is accepted without question by both the state and private enterprise (see: private hospitals). My wife has had a few visits to the hospital during our relationship, and the differences in how hospital staff treated questions I asked as the 'husband' rather than the 'partner' were telling. I married my wife for exactly the reasons same-sex couples want access to marriage. If marriage didn't have a special legal status, we wouldn't have bothered with the whole palaver. If you oppose same-sex marriage have the courage of your god damned convictions: come out in opposition to my marriage, and every other atheist's marriage, too. I dare you.
posted by MarchHare at 2:29 AM on September 19 [47 favorites]


Worth noting that this is George "People have the right to be bigots," Brandis, the guy that wanted to eliminate existing laws against hate speech, so the chances of him actually authorising action against the numerous homophobic lies of the No campaign are virtually zero.

Worth noting also that he's a prominent Yes campaigner.
posted by hawthorne at 2:44 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


fuck Tony Abbot (and George Christianson, and Erica Betz, and . . . . )
posted by dangerousdan at 2:51 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


And lest anyone thing I'm being overly paranoid, a friend had her mailbox (and a pile of others in her street) jimmied open and the ballot form (not filled in) had been tossed onto the ground and stomped on. Could have been kids. Could have been thieves. Could have been the sort of people I'm paranoid about.
posted by ninazer0 at 2:57 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


^ninazer0, I found that folding the ballot differently obscured any ability to read. I held mine up to light and couldn't see my mark through the envelope or folds.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:04 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I tried that, but short of concertina-ing the paper, I could still make it out. Perhaps my desk light is just super bright? It's a daylight globe, so...?
posted by ninazer0 at 3:17 AM on September 19


Worth noting also that he's a prominent Yes campaigner.

...so long as they don't do it in a church, because it's not unlawful discrimination if it's Jesus.

He also got teary about offending Muslims while he has a bunch of them locked up on an island (and even then had to put it in the context of being advised by sequential heads of security that it was ok to work with them to stop terrorism).

Truly, he contains multitudes. Which is a nice way of saying his moral compass is a texta drawing on the back of his hand, and he keeps licking it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:22 AM on September 19 [13 favorites]


If it’s any consolation, ninazer0, AusPost is so heavily automated the likelihood of it being touched by humans between it going in the letterbox and ever again is minimal.
posted by antipodes at 3:24 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


If they manage to deliver the non-ballot in the first place. Predictable bastardry is already occurring.
posted by pompomtom at 3:29 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


And now, of course, we have this from the PM (Graudian: Coalition won't take marriage equality to the next election if the survey come back as a no) and this (The Age: more stolen surveys, destined for East Brunswick, found trashed and otherwise mutilated.

As with many LGBTiQ folks, this is hitting me harder than I would have expected. I feel exposed and threatened more than I have for decades. Having this sort of utterly bigoted and ignorant hate made concrete today (fucking today! The 21st century! Shit!) brings home how much some groups would just prefer I disappear and die.
posted by michswiss at 3:35 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


Graudian: Coalition won't take marriage equality to the next election if the survey come back as a no

Yep. Non-binding, unless it's no, and then it will be carved in stone.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:37 AM on September 19 [17 favorites]


I am honestly filling with rage and hurt at such a rate that I don't know how it's possible for me to come out the end of the next 57 days unchanged.
posted by Panthalassa at 3:43 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Worth noting also that he's a prominent Yes campaigner.

Who the fuck in this pitiful Yes campaign has been even remotely prominent?
posted by Panthalassa at 3:46 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


It's a damn good thing we didn't have Facebook at the '67 referendum.
posted by MarchHare at 3:49 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


We received ours in the mail today and ticked the yes box. But we were both saddened that we, as a straight couple, should even be involved enough to have a say at all. It is insane. And wrong. And it cost the country millions!
posted by greenhornet at 3:51 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


We've had same-sex marriage here in MA, US for years now, and none of the Bad, Very Bad consequences predicted by opponents have come to pass. None of them. For instance, my hetero marriage was not destroyed or ruined. Gay marriage had no effect on it at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:53 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


none of the Bad, Very Bad consequences predicted by opponents have come to pass. .

So far! Just wait until the creeping effects of all that government-sanctioned homosexuality works its way through everything that is good and pure. Then we'll see Massachusetts, from Bash Bish Falls to Gay Head, crumble and slide into the sea.
posted by pracowity at 4:32 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


With the 'No' proponents spending five times the 'Yes' on TV ads so far, I am beginning to worry. While the majority of Australians are still marriage equality supporters, the gap is reducing. FUD and pretending this is a vote on political correctness or teaching kids strange things in sex ed at school seems to be working. I'm going to donate to The Equality Campaign, hopefully the focus can return to what this is actually about, marriage and love.
posted by drnick at 4:32 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


This must be stressful to be living through. We've certainly seen differences between what people will say in public, and how they will vote in private, a spread which this vote appears to directly pander to. I hope either the vote is positive, or if not, that it does not derail legislative solutions.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:52 AM on September 19


I got the survey last night and didn't even think of not filling it in. I'm pretty sure marriage is just a stupid anachronism but if's going to be allowed then it should be a stupid anachronism that any adult can freely engage in. Truthfully, if I ever did somehow find myself participating in that ritual it would feel weird and wrong knowing an entire class of people was excluded from doing what I was doing.
posted by um at 4:57 AM on September 19 [9 favorites]


There has never been a legitimate issue to simply put this to a free vote in Parliament. It's all down to the control the conservatives (including the ex-Monk and havoc-maker, rAbbott) have over the weak-as-piss PM, pseudo metrosexual, Turnbull. A legislative solution could be voted on at, literally, any time Parliament is in session. The plebiscite / mail survey are vehicles to incite division and rally the regressives. Oh, and it's costing at least $122M AUD.
posted by michswiss at 5:01 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


Turnbull: We need to let Australians have their say on this important issue

*3 hours later*

Turnbull: We're following the US into a suicidal war against China if they attack North Korea
posted by Talez at 5:22 AM on September 19 [17 favorites]


To be fair: we follow the US into all of their wars. To not do so, at this point, would be dangerously close to making a decision.
posted by pompomtom at 5:54 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


"With the 'No' proponents spending five times the 'Yes' on TV ads so far, I am beginning to worry."

Personally, I think 10 should have done a deal months ago to co-brand their ad for The Bachelorette as a marriage equality ad. Arguably it'd be a better ad for that than it is for the show…

The whole thing though is a fucking farce, designed by a committee of arseholes to avoid both any responsibility for, or for having to do anything about, either outcome.

But just to let everyone know that there is hope: Every few weeks or so I get together with a bunch of 'old guys' - ex-tech/radio/telecomms guys mostly; almost all of them a good 30 years or more older than me (the oldest is 92!) - just for both them and me to socialise outside of our normal little worlds. We chew the fat, discuss whatever radio/electronics stuff comes up, etc, etc. Last weekend, all anybody wanted to talk about was SSM.

Now, these guys are positively antediluvian in their language, if not many of their attitudes, and many are lifetime church-goers. The discussion was all in terms of 'poofs and queers' being 'allowed' to marry, etc. But every single one of them said they were going to vote yes. Not because they're comfortable with teh ghey - they most certainly are not - but, when it came down to it, their reasoning was basically that love, even if it's the 'wrong' sort, is precious and everyone deserves to be able to enjoy it however they find it. And if some of 'them' want to get married to enjoy it, well ... it's not really their place to stop it.

(Oh, and a couple also admitted to deciding to vote 'yes' just to spite John Howard for changing the marriage act in the first place, and to spite Campbell Newman (who reversed the previous state government's legislation allowing civil unions) just on general principles.)

So I suspect there's a lot more "yes" supporters out there than the polls & guesstimates & "no" side might have you believe…
posted by Pinback at 5:54 AM on September 19 [13 favorites]


So I suspect there's a lot more "yes" supporters out there than the polls & guesstimates & "no" side might have you believe…

Me too*, but will they bother with the survey? When did we last have optional 'voting'?

* I acknowledge the possibility that this might just be something I want to be true.
posted by pompomtom at 6:04 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Tim Minchin did this video before the farce was officially going ahead but it still works.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:09 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


none of the Bad, Very Bad consequences predicted by opponents have come to pass.

It's been 12-years here in Canada, and I still don't see the "Very Bad" consequences... Actually, things appear to be getting better - trans and non-binary gender issues are now being brought to the forefront - and today's youth generally appear to be accepting of all types of relationships - even in the small backwards town our daughter just graduated from.
posted by jkaczor at 6:11 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


To be fair: we follow the US into all of their wars. To not do so, at this point, would be dangerously close to making a decision.

At least we got the E-3 visa as a reward for Howard being Bush's lapdog with the "coalition of the willing".
posted by Talez at 6:18 AM on September 19


the results will not be legally binding.

My understanding is that they will be legally binding if it's a No. It'll be that The People Have Spoken and They've Had Enough Poofterism And Marxist Cultural Engineering and similar verbiage, and then the culture war will spread to prosecuting same-sex couples holding hands in public on grounds of “decency” or something. It'll only be non-binding if it's a Yes.
posted by acb at 6:20 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


"Me too*, but will they bother with the survey?"

Well, the one counter-example I know - an elderly woman who, knowing her history and all, I'd suspect would lean to the "yes" side if it wasn't for listening to talkback radio all day and so likes to regale my partner & I with stories of what horrible things the gays plan to do to the country once they can marry - told me on Sunday that she wasn't going to bother returning hers.

But she's literally the only person I know personally who isn't going to vote yes - and she's not going to vote at all. (Well, I guess there's an outside chance my younger sister would vote 'no' - she's a little conservative in many ways - but I don't think so & haven't asked her.)

"and today's youth generally appear to be accepting of all types of relationships - even in the small backwards town our daughter just graduated from."

That aspect's not particularly different here. My partner is a teacher at what many consider to be one of the more feral bogan high schools in Brisbane. From what she tells me there's several GLBTIQ kids there, ranging from just coming out to openly same-sex dating (&, quite recently, at least one full-on pre-op trans teen). Almost nobody at the school - least of all the kids - has any problem with any of it at all, there's surprisingly little bullying about it, & it's almost a complete non-issue.
posted by Pinback at 6:34 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Getting into possible Australian conscription and war with China is pretty far off topic.]
posted by taz at 6:39 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


And all for a non-binding survey? Fuck that

Is this usual for Australians? I don't really understand what the point of polling everyone on a non-binding survey is, but maybe this is a Thing? Are your votes still protected the way votes would be?
posted by corb at 6:45 AM on September 19


Is this usual for Australians?

No, it's an absurd stunt by conservatives to avoid having to change the law in Parliament themselves... even though they somehow managed to change the law to remove equality back in the Howard years.

If the vote is returned 'no', they'll say "THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN". If the vote is "yes" they'll say "Non binding, sorry about the millions of dollars wasted, we can't be arsed".
posted by pompomtom at 6:54 AM on September 19 [11 favorites]


No, this is unique. It is an aberration. It has no legal status, it binds no one, it is not private, it has no material impact on what or how the parliament might respond. It is simply the only way the current government has found to kick the marriage equality can away from actually admitting they'd prefer homophobia and transphobia to be tacit policy.
posted by michswiss at 6:56 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


Obviously right-wing politicians want to have a vote on such a thing in order to save face before their anti-gay marriage electorate, when they are forced to change the law. This seems to be the only strategic way to ensure the ongoing trust (from the No-Voters) in the democratic system to me.

So this is the one issue that our representatives can't represent us on? And a conscience vote in Parlt wouldn't suffice? They changed it before.
posted by pompomtom at 6:57 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Is this usual for Australians? I don't really understand what the point of polling everyone on a non-binding survey is, but maybe this is a Thing? Are your votes still protected the way votes would be?

It's a perculiarity of the Westminster system of how factionalism drives party agendas. Basically, the center-left Labor party has come out in full force for marriage equality. They're ready to pass it. This plus the conscience votes of the conservative Liberal party (financial liberty not social) would easily see same sex marriage become law.

In a panic, a bunch of religious nutjob faction members of the Liberal party came to a party room meeting about the subject and threatened revolt over any attempt at a free vote on marriage equality, knowing it would probably pass. Turnbull, the leader of the Liberal party and current PM didn't want to fight this civil war given his tenuous position after stabbing Tony Abbott, member of said religious nutjob faction, in the back only two years ago plus his massive fucking cockup with the double dissolution election which saw the Liberal majority become very tenuous.

So in an effort to compromise and appease these nutjobs he declared he'd punt it to the Australian people. If they said yes, the religious right wouldn't have a leg to stand on to stop a free vote in parliament. If they said no, well, the electorate has spoken. He got the entire cabinet on board which meant any Liberal wishing to challenge them publicly would be going up against the entire cabinet which is basically consigning yourself to the backbench, possibly risking your preselection (in Australia the party selects who they want to contest the seats, not a primary). It would be political suicide.

Now the religious right are basically pulling out every bit of FUD knowing this is their last stand against the future and they are going hard at it.
posted by Talez at 7:00 AM on September 19 [16 favorites]


First Dog on the Moon has some light relief and advice on this...
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 7:03 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Please go ahead and skip such mindblowing hot takes as "it's really the LGBT left who hate democracy" -- if you're not trolling, try harder to look like it.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:23 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]


Was it actually possible to get married as a same-sex couple in Aus prior to 2004? I"m having trouble working it out. I was too young in 2004 it seems to know many people getting married, so I don't know. Wikipedia seems to suggest it was not in practice possible, due to this Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961[10].

So did Howard actually change the possibility of same-sex marriage?
posted by mary8nne at 7:27 AM on September 19


Yes, he changed the possibility of a court challenge. Now go away.
posted by michswiss at 7:30 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I actually just think the survey is a good way to avoid a possible future backlash from the Right-Wing against the "PC Liberals", as happened in the USA with the Trump supporters. They rejected "politicians" for a businessman because they felt estranged from the politicians and live in bubbles on Facebook.

There are strategic reasons why Turnbull needs to do this, but its also seems the only way to really maintain a certain level of trust in Australian Politicians as acting in the "majority interests".
posted by mary8nne at 7:33 AM on September 19


If you actually bothered to read the Wikipedia articles you mindlessly copy and paste from, you would see that Section 46 of the Marriage Act is about what celebrants are supposed to say at weddings. It does not set out the actual legal definition of marriage in Australia.
posted by Panthalassa at 7:35 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


I actually just think the survey is a good way to avoid a possible future backlash from the Right-Wing against the "PC Liberals", as happened in the USA with the Trump supporters.

The reason why the USA has descended so far into electoral madness is because a small cadre of crazy yet engaged people show up for every primary and disproportionately inject their values into the process.

Between preselection, the moderate liberal faction, Australia being far less religious in general, compulsory voting, and preferential voting it makes it much harder for nutjobs to enforce batshit crazy things on the electorate unlike the United States.

The crazy primary voters were able to drum out Republican moderates. It's almost impossible to do likewise in Australia.
posted by Talez at 7:37 AM on September 19 [7 favorites]


I did read the wikipedia articles and it is not clear if prior to the 2004 clause being explicitly in legal form that Celebrants in fact regularly carried out Same-Sex marriages.

Because if they did, why was Howard's action prompted by people getting same-sex marriages overseas recognised here?
That is, if the Same-sex marriages were already possible in Australia, (as you allege) as long as you didn't mind the Celebrant saying some weird stuff before marrying you?

On my reading the Wikipedia article seems to suggest that the Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961[10] - even though it was only this definition to be uttered by celebrants - in fact made it difficult to get married?
posted by mary8nne at 7:42 AM on September 19


There are strategic reasons why Turnbull needs to do this, but its also seems the only way to really maintain a certain level of trust in Australian Politicians as acting in the "majority interests".

Again, a clear majority of Australians have supported marriage equality in opinion polls, outside the margin of error, for years now. The best way for Australian politicians to act in the majority interests of their electorate would have been to pass laws introducing marriage equality with a minimum of fuss.

What they are doing now is, if anything, more suspect because it is a voluntary opt-in postal vote which takes place over two months, allowing opponents of reform a great opportunity to wilfully and dishonestly distort the issue at hand. It has been a debacle, a debasement of Australian parliamentary democracy from its very inception and the losers are going to use this fact to argue against enacting the result when it is announced.
posted by Panthalassa at 7:43 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


I don't see why it matters if its Non-binding or Binding.

"Non-binding" is the language of slippery operators who hope to pick and choose their response depending on the results. See also: the UK's EU Referendum, which is non-binding it to the back of a mad donkey heading over a cliff.

A binding referendum vote would trigger Australia's compulsory voting laws and, given the opinion polls, be guaranteed to get through. This cynical survey mechanism is a desperate sop to right-wingers in an attempt to defuse internal Liberal Party squabbles, which happens to give those right-wingers their best chance of getting what they want, long shot though it is. See also: the UK's EU Referendum.

Turnbull was basically prepared to put thousands of same-sex couples through months of agonising campaigning that strikes at the heart of their identity so that he could duck the responsibilities of power while maximising his chances of maintaining that power. See also...
posted by rory at 7:44 AM on September 19 [12 favorites]


We've had same-sex marriage here in MA, US for years now, and none of the Bad, Very Bad consequences predicted by opponents have come to pass. None of them.

Well, my dad and his partner got married after the Supreme Court did their thing a while back, and at least one of the consequences I predicted has indeed come true: Namely, that I gleefully seize upon every opportunity I can get to refer to Richard as my step-dad, and call him "Grandpa Richard" whenever my kids can hear me (my dad being "Grandpa Tom") . Which, based on his grimaces and obvious discomfort, might count as "Bad, Very Bad consequences" from Richard's perspective; after something like seventy years he had apparently gotten pretty used to the idea of not having a family.

But hey, sorry not sorry, Richard! I love ya, but if you didn't want a family you shouldn't have married a man with two kids and three grandkids!
posted by nickmark at 7:48 AM on September 19 [18 favorites]


boys being allowed to wear skirts to school

I've heard this ridiculous piece of if disinformation, and it's plainly untrue. It's not in the Safe Schools program, and that program has nothing to do with the plebiscite. But it has brought forth an issue that I didn't even realise was a problem. Apparently up until now there was no option for girls to wear shorts at some schools.

Victoria to change state school uniform policy to let girls wear shorts or pants instead of dresses and skirts.

I like to think that crappy lie has backfired and made parents aware of this problem.
posted by adept256 at 7:51 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


On my reading the Wikipedia article seems to suggest that the Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961[10] - even though it was only this definition to be uttered by celebrants - in fact made it difficult to get married?

A celebrant can't solemnize that which isn't marriage.

Australia has no equal protection in the constitution because they didn't want those concepts being applied to the Africans and the Chinese way back when. You could argue that the law pre-2004 doesn't prohibit same sex marriage because it doesn't define marriage. But it's perfectly acceptable to make marriage only between a man and a woman and there's nothing in the constitution that prohibits that restriction and you can't go to the High Court with "this is discriminatory bullshit".
posted by Talez at 7:54 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


On my reading the Wikipedia article seems to suggest that the Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961[10] - even though it was only this definition to be uttered by celebrants - in fact made it difficult to get married?

Well, you're dead wrong. It's not Section 46 of the Marriage Act that caused problems for same sex couples looking to be married, it's the common law precedent of Hyde v Hyde.

I suggest you excuse yourself from any further discussion until your reading comprehension skills have progressed beyond those of a Year 10 student desperately rushing to complete their Legal Studies homework the night before it comes due.

Thanks in advance &c.
posted by Panthalassa at 7:55 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


The entire reason for this plebiscite is so MPs can point at it to please the bigots, saying they personally voted no, but they believe in democracy and bullshit bullshit drool bigot bigot bigot I had to vote yes.

I got my ballot and it's ready for the post first thing tomorrow.

YES TO LOVE!
posted by adept256 at 7:56 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Opinion Polls are not "direct democracy". And the general conception of "democracy" these days seems to be moving towards the idea of Plebiscites / Direct Democracy (because of work by Graeber and Occupy etc), rather than parliamentary representative democracy.

While Greek democracy was based on the drawing of lots, which actually resembles opinion polls to a certain extent, I don't think Australians would accept lottery as a legitimate form of political decision making. These days its all about "voting" the survey fits the common conception of what democratic politics should be.
posted by mary8nne at 7:57 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


So Panthalassa, are you saying that prior to Howard's intervention in 2004, same-sex couples could or could not get married in Australia?

Which is really all I am trying to understand, since you seem to suggest that it is true that they could NOT get married prior to 2004 but because of this common law precedent.
posted by mary8nne at 8:03 AM on September 19


Which is really all I am trying to understand, since you seem to suggest that it is true that they could NOT get married prior to 2004 but because of this common law precedent.

They couldn't by the tradition of common law but they could take a case to the High Court to change the tradition on the basis that the law doesn't explicitly prevent it. Which is why they changed the law to explicitly prevent it.
posted by Talez at 8:06 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


boys being allowed to wear skirts to school

That was in the UK, actually. Britain is more afraid of shorts than anything else.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:19 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Australia's states only decriminalised same-sex sexual activity between men over the period 1975 to 1997 (it was always legal for women). State and territory governments only started offering the possibility of registered partnerships (civil unions and the like) in the 21st century, and WA and NT still haven't.

So, no, prior to 2004, same-sex couples could not get married in Australia. The point of Howard's intervention was that, at the first whiff of a possibility that someone might be inspired by international developments to mount a legal challenge to the status quo, he shut it right down.
posted by rory at 8:25 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


It was in this ad from the Australia Christian Lobby. [stupid bigot warning]
posted by adept256 at 8:26 AM on September 19


Which is really all I am trying to understand, since you seem to suggest that it is true that they could NOT get married prior to 2004 but because of this common law precedent.

I can't speak for others, but all I am trying to suggest is that since you lack the faculties to correctly evaluate even the Wikipedia articles you link to us, you should consider developing your critical reasoning skills before participating in discussions that require them, like this one.
posted by Panthalassa at 8:31 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


I still don't see the "Very Bad" consequences... Actually, things appear to be getting better - trans and non-binary gender issues are now being brought to the forefront - and today's youth generally appear to be accepting of all types of relationships -
To the sort of person who'd vote against, those are the Very Bad consequences.
posted by RobotHero at 12:43 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


To the sort of person who'd vote against, those are the Very Bad consequences.

Heh - true - I am always chuckling when listening to a radio interview with a [insert any] currently elected conservative* politician who once voted against this, only to hear them proudly proclaiming that they now support LGBQ equality (they still have difficulty processing "T"), and the NEW devil is... [Islam / Muslims / Sharia Law / Immigration / The-Dangers-of-Sharing-Bathrooms-With-Those-Horrible-TransGender-Predators-Even-If-They-Are-Only-7-or-8-Years-Old / The-$15-Hour-Minimum-Wage-That-Will-Kill-All-Business-In-The-Province-of_Ontario]

Christ, what assholes...

* ... "Talking to a conservative is like talking to your refrigerator... You know, the light goes on, the light goes off; it's not going to do anything that isn't built into it... And I'm not going to talk to a conservative anymore than I talk to my damn refrigerator."
posted by jkaczor at 1:45 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


A little silver lining in all this bullshit, a friend of mine, who has been in a relationship with his partner for years, wrote a letter about why voting yes was so important to him and hand delivered the letter to 200 houses nearby. They provided their email address if people wanted to discuss further. A part of me was terrified they were about to receive a ton of hate mail, but instead they've received a pile of letters thanking them for their courage, voicing their support and spreading love. VOTE YES!

In my nice little inner-city bubble it has been heartwarming to walk by houses and business with big rainbows or "VOTE YES" posters plastered in the windows. Workplaces have been handing out badges and rainbow lanyards for people to wear. Even with that, someone ripped off the "No anti-equality mail" sticker I had up on my postbox. Generally, it's all warm and fuzzy and feels like a Yes result is inevitable...yet we know how easily that may not be the case

I've been doing my bit by having the awkward conversations with conservative family members and have been pleasantly surprised to find out that most of them are voting yes as well as convincing those that would vote no, to just not vote at all.

I hate all of this, I hate how much of a farce it is, how downright insulting it is that we have to vote on this. Yet, having attended the equal love rally with 20,000 other Victorians, seeing all the rainbows everywhere, having people thank me for my support just because I'm wearing a little badge - these are the beautiful small moments that I'm clinging through, that I hope will get us through this.
posted by liquorice at 4:20 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]


The whole thing makes me angry and sick. I posted this to Facebook and culled over a dozen members of my family. I knew they were fundie Christian bigots but, y'know, they were family. But they were all so proud of their bigotry this time around and I've had enough. I will be verbally beating them down if they dare open their yaps in front of me next time I see any of them.

The "vote no" campaign seems to be founded on the principle of people not wanting their "religious freedom" curtailed. Think about that. A centuries-long international Dungeons & Dragons campaign literally believes it has oversight or even actual connection with the real tangible world that people live in.

Cosplayers and selective metamythologists have rights, certainly, but "religious freedom" does not trump actual freedom. It is institutionalised bullying of the highest order and the more I think about it the angrier I get. This sham plebiscite by corrupt and cowardly fly-by-nighters feels like one great big "stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself" campaign.

I have only few LGBTQI friends and associates, past and present, so would not dare to speak to their own current or historical struggles. But I do know what it is like to be bullied, and this is the playground of bullies, and I repudiate it and find it poisonous.

I will be saying no to bullying by saying yes to marriage equality. If you truly believe this will damage the "institution" of marriage then it was too weak to survive anyway. If you genuinely worry about "what will happen to the kids" then you are merely a misanthrope and an anti-humanist.

Furthermore, how dare you.

If you are voting no to marriage equality I have decided I don't care what your reason is or how we are associated or even related. You are participating in a nationwide act of vicious and bigoted bullying and in this matter I want nothing to do with you any longer.

You can remove your Facebook connection to me or you can let your contrary view be known below, in which case I will instantly delete it and facilitate the disconnection myself.

posted by turbid dahlia at 4:42 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


It's been 12-years here in Canada, and I still don't see the "Very Bad" consequences...

Yea, but that has nothing to do with the fucked up No campaigners. I have recently read on facebook that in Canada priests are being sued for not marrying gay couples, you can now be jailed for not using someone's preferred pronoun, and it is no longer legal to refer to a 'husband' or 'wife', you have to say 'partner' or 'spouse' - all direct consequences of legal same sex marriage. I am not even fucking joking, these people are either so stupid they should be locked up for their own good, or so sociopathic they should be locked up for everyone else's good.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:05 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


So, no, prior to 2004, same-sex couples could not get married in Australia. The point of Howard's intervention was that, at the first whiff of a possibility that someone might be inspired by international developments to mount a legal challenge to the status quo, he shut it right down.

It also forestalled or frustrated attempts by states or territories to legislate for same-sex marriage, which they may have been able to do on the basis that the federal marriage act, by dealing only with opposite-sex marriage and not addressing same-sex marriage at all, left a gap that state/territory law was able to fill.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:12 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


It was in this ad from the Australia Christian Lobby. [stupid bigot warning]

May I add a palate cleanser? This spot from the Australian Lapsed Catholic Lobby, via the always excellent Dan Ilic.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:18 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


I can't speak for others, but all I am trying to suggest is that since you lack the faculties to correctly evaluate even the Wikipedia articles you link to us, you should consider developing your critical reasoning skills before participating in discussions that require them, like this one.

This is a snotty and unhelpful way to engage in a charged topic.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:52 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


What? When did Graeber and Occupy campaign for plebicites? By conducting a movement based on groups repeating a speaker s words, annoyingly thorough consensus process, and civil disobedience? Wha?
posted by eustatic at 11:22 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I always got the message from that movement that voting was useless or even anti democratic, since it procedurally divides people who seek to participate in a polity as a unified group.
posted by eustatic at 11:29 PM on September 19


Data provided to BuzzFeed News by media monitoring and analysis company Streem found that across 4,334 news stories in print, online and on TV and radio from September 10 to 17, the "no" campaign was mentioned in the media almost four times as much as the "yes" campaign.
posted by rory at 1:56 AM on September 20


I have a question for Australian folks in re: the ballots being found dumped in ditches: is mail tampering not a crime in Australia?
posted by adrienneleigh at 1:58 AM on September 20


Mail tampering is a crime, yes. Who do you prosecute when they are simply abandoned in a laneway or in the gutter? Also, who brings the charges?

In other news, I got my ballot in the letterbox when I got home tonight. I don't know if the ABS has switched their envelopes, but you can't see through it. So that's something anyway.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:22 AM on September 20


In 1986, military law changed; it was no longer illegal to be homosexual and a serving member of the armed forces. It was, however, against Army policy to employ homosexuals. It meant that they couldn’t sack me. The only way they could get me out was to force me to resign.

Via Pauline Pantsdown, who observes that a "common thread amongst my age peers (I'm 55) is that the level & language of public homophobic bile is like the mid-1970s, our teenage years".

In the mid-1970s, same-sex sexual activity between men was illegal in every state and territory other than SA and the ACT. In Victoria the penalty was up to 15 years in prison, in NSW 14 years. That was the context of the homophobic bile Pantsdown mentions.

As an Aussie-at-a-distance distracted by northern hemisphere stuff, I hadn't fully absorbed the despicable impact of Turnbull-and-co's actions, but this is truly shameful.
posted by rory at 5:59 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I mean, I knew it on an intellectual level, but because I'm on the other side of the world I'm not surrounded by its awful impact, and it's taken the past couple of days on social media to feel as if I am. Jesus, that Australia Christian Lobby ad...

I'm not quite as old as Pantsdown, but was a teenager in Tasmania, which was years behind the curve, so I remember that homophobic atmosphere. Hateful, bullying, life-crushing bullshit. Stupid, stupid Libs for dragging it out of the darkness and back into the light of day. All you had to do was copy the one decent thing that David Cameron ever did and make it law, completely defusing the issue. You wouldn't have suffered any electoral backlash: where are the bigot brigade going to go, to the ALP or the Greens? You've got preferential voting, you'd get their precious prejudiced votes anyway.
posted by rory at 6:32 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


You wouldn't have suffered any electoral backlash: where are the bigot brigade going to go, to the ALP or the Greens? You've got preferential voting, you'd get their precious prejudiced votes anyway.

It wasn't about electoral backlash. It was about stopping a civil war within the Liberal party and a power struggle between moderates and conservative factions.
posted by Talez at 6:46 AM on September 20


That applies in the UK Conservative Party too, and Cameron still managed it. The same-sex marriage bill split the Tories down the middle; it got through with Labour support.

Sure, Turnbull was concerned about getting rolled in the party room, and about triggering Liberal preselection wars, but ultimately those are about perceived electability. Fear of electoral backlash is part of that. Not the whole story, though, I agree.
posted by rory at 7:31 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in other auspol news, please enjoy Malcolm Comma Roberts totally self destructing in the High Court over his alleged ineligibility to even be a senator because he was a dual citizen at the time of the election.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:12 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


I know it isn't good for the Yes campaign, but Tony Abbott claims he was head butted by a Yes supporter during a visit to Tasmania to rally the No idiots. Of course, rAbbott is a saint and would never attempt to physically intimidate strong female opponents and erstwhile governmental officials.
posted by michswiss at 5:03 AM on September 21


This is a snotty and unhelpful way to engage in a charged topic.

No, playing the 'I was just a widdle boy then so I'm not weally sure what gwown ups were doing but does this Wikipedia article say gays couldn't get married before 2004 I'm totally not trying to make a point here I'm just asking a question' is an unhelpful way to engage in a charged topic.

Could they? Nobody is sure, but Little Johnny Jackboots sure as fucking hell thought it was a possibility which is why he changed the law in the first place, and now they absolutely can't. There's your answer. Now stop asking, if only because I'm sick of seeing the fucking Wikipedia footnote number after the year of the legislation every time you copy and paste it.

Got a point of view? Next time just spit it out already and drop the dumb innocent act.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:46 PM on September 21 [6 favorites]


'Nothing to do with same-sex marriage': Anarchist DJ who headbutted Tony Abbott
The man who headbutted former prime minister Tony Abbott has declared it had "nothing to do" with same-sex marriage but was about his lifelong ambition to headbutt "a fascist".
(...)
"[It] was just a lifelong ambition to headbutt a fascist because I'm a skinhead that likes ska music and hates fascism. He's an evil c---, I'm an anarchist and I believe in human rights."
(...)
"I headbutted him quite piss-poorly because I was quite pissed," Mr Labe said. He said he had no remorse but acknowledged his actions had harmed the "yes" campaign and said he was "really f--king embarrassed by it".
Also, this is so fucking typical of both Abbott and the whole No movement:
Mr Abbott used the assault on Friday to condemn the "ugliness" of some same-sex marriage supporters in the campaign and declared: "If you don't want to be pushed around by activists, vote 'no'."

But he conceded the offender had not specifically raised the topic of same-sex marriage during the altercation or the expletive-laden rant that followed.
posted by moody cow at 2:18 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]


There are so many reasons to assault Abbott, but his idiot stance on marriage equality is way down the list.
posted by pompomtom at 8:02 AM on September 24




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