Shorten speaks up for equality

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has backed marriage equality during a speech he delivered to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in Canberra on Saturday.

“I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality,” he said. “I’m a Christian and a supporter of marriage equality under the law.”

The ACL has campaigned strongly to prevent the passing of marriage equality laws, but Mr Shorten believes that religion shouldn’t be used as an instrument of division when it comes to who we love.

“I believe our current law does exclude some individuals it says to them that your relationship is not equally valued by the state, that your love is less equal under the law,” he said. “We currently have a law that discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love.”

Mr Shorten also said that he doesn’t buy into the argument that marriage equality leads to polygamy, bigamy or bestiality. He also acknowledged that his ideas may not be popular among other members, but he couldn’t remain silent about faith being used as a justification for discrimination.

His speech comes on the heels of a US Government decision to allow gay marriage in a further six states, bringing the total number of US states which recognise marriage equality to 32.

Mr Shorten voted in support of gay marriage in 2012 and said he would continue to push for marriage equality in Australia, even though it is a polarising issue for many people.

“When I see people hiding behind the bible to insult and demonise people on the basis of who they love, I cannot stay silent. I do not agree,” he said.

Watch the video of Shorten’s speech to the ACL.


Opinion: A brave move

Mr Shorten should be applauded for having the courage to speak on behalf of a community which has been clearly marginalised for some time. The fact that he did it in front of one of the biggest opponents to marriage equality is even more admirable.

It’s refreshing to see one of our leaders actually publically oppose the conservative establishment. I, like many Australians, would like to see more of this type of ‘backbone’ from our politicians.

Whether we agree with the sentiment or not, the fact that he took a stand instead of toeing the same old party line, gives hope that Mr Shorten may be the type of leader we need. After all, that’s what leadership is all about.

The Australian Government has often been accused of cow-towing to the US when it comes to certain policies. The majority of US states now recognise gay marriage. It will be interesting to see if our government follows its lead this time.

Public opinion on gay marriage is changing. At the end of the day, recognising gay marriage is about respecting the liberties of all Australians, gay or straight. Conservatives who do not support gay marriage reform may risk alienating not only same-sex couples but also a number of their constituents who have no issue with the reform.

Do you support marriage equality? Do you see Mr Shorten’s speech as an indicator of him being a strong leader? Or is it more political manoeuvring? What do you think?