Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Rodney Croome: this is personal – why I can’t resign myself to a plebiscite

Rodney Croome quits Australian Marriage Equality to oppose plebiscite ‘If a gay kid dies at his own hand because of a hate-mongering plebiscite, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything to stop it.’

Don’t believe what you read in the media, there is no “split” in the marriage equality movement. There is a spectrum of different approaches to a very difficult situation.

The difficult situation is that the government says there’s only one path to marriage equality – a costly, divisive and unnecessary plebiscite.

At one end of the spectrum of responses are those who don’t accept the government’s ultimatum and are putting their energies into stopping a plebiscite and securing a free vote in parliament. This includes Pflag, Rainbow Families, and the new national LGBTI advocacy group just.equal.

At the other end are people who reluctantly accept the ultimatum and are putting their energies into preparing to win a plebiscite. This includes the group Australians 4 Equality and Irish referendum campaigner, Tiernan Brady.

In between are groups carefully balancing both approaches, including trying to obtain the best terms possible for a plebiscite.

This includes Australian Marriage Equality.

Each approach is a reasonable, necessary and legitimate response. They can easily fit together and need not be in conflict. In fact, I’d be worried if the marriage equality movement wasn’t working on all these fronts at once.

It’s a sign of the maturity of that movement that it can accommodate groups with differing priorities. The diverse voices of the marriage equality movement have always been its strength, no less now than in the past.

Rest assured these different approaches will not weaken a “yes” campaign if there is a plebiscite.

If a plebiscite is finally called, the networks and resources mobilised to stop a plebiscite will swing behind winning it, giving the “yes” campaign extra muscle. We will all unite to win a plebiscite if one becomes inevitable.

In recent times my place on the marriage equality spectrum has shifted.

I am now working closely with groups such as PFLAG and just.equal to stop a plebiscite. This is because I genuinely believe a plebiscite can be stopped and marriage equality can be passed through parliament.

This is based on my near-30 year experience of advocating for LGBTI human rights, and on my conversations with Liberals and Nationals who support marriage equality.

They are currently locked in behind a plebiscite but if enabling legislation is blocked in the Senate, the landscape changes.

The public spotlight will swing on to the government’s failure to allow a free vote, especially now the numbers are there to pass marriage equality if MPs are freed from the straightjacket of party policy.

If a free vote isn’t allowed there’s still the possibility of Liberals heeding public opinion and crossing the floor.

We only need a four or five of them to swing behind a bill and the issue that has dogged Australian politics for years will finally be over.

Those who believe a plebiscite is inevitable and a successful parliamentary vote impossible betray a lack of political imagination. The history of marriage equality shows how quickly and unexpectedly the political situation can improve and there’s every reason to think such change is possible in the future.

In the current situation we aren’t sure how the plebiscite legislation will be framed or how the Senate will react to that legislation.

It’s not the case that “we have to play the cards we’ve been dealt” because no cards have been dealt yet.

A good comparison to the plebiscite proposal is the national civil union scheme that was proposed by some politicians a few years ago. Like a plebiscite, civil unions were proposed as a path to marriage equality when in fact they were all about holding it back.

As with a plebiscite, politicians said civil unions were the only way forward.

Marriage equality advocates said “no” to that ultimatum and the momentum for civil unions slowly faded away while the issue of marriage equality stayed front and centre.

It will be the same with a plebiscite.

The other reason I have shifted to work against a plebiscite is deeply personal.

In the mid 1990s, at the height of the bitter and divisive debate about decriminalising homosexuality in Tasmania, a young gay man, Nick Donovan, found himself in a quandary.

Nick had bought a one-way ticket to Melbourne because he could no longer bear the anti-gay hate. But neither could he leave his family, his friends and the place that gave his life meaning.

The night before he was due to leave he took his own life.

We know what he was thinking because he wrote about it in his suicide note.

At the time, I was busy trying to move decriminalisation forward by making submissions to the United Nations, lobbying state MPs, advocating in the media and speaking to community groups. There is a part of me that will always fear I was too distracted by all this lobbying and advocacy, and that I didn’t do enough to protect vulnerable people such as Nick.

He is a splinter in my bloodstream that has finally reached my heart.

If there is a plebiscite, and when the first gay kid dies at his own hand because of the hate and fear-mongering, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could to stop it … everything.

Sadly, that includes giving up my role at Australian Marriage Equality.

My work against a plebiscite places the organisation in an impossible position.

AME is the group that will have to negotiate the best possible terms for a plebiscite should one occur. Having me advocating against the government’s plan for a plebiscite makes it harder for AME to engage constructively with the government.

I am grateful AME has been patient about my growing anti-plebiscite advocacy. It is a small but significant sign of the co-operative spirit that prevails in the marriage equality movement.

But now we must be free to go down the different roads history has assigned us.

It has been difficult for me to decide to leave. I founded the organisation and have been its spokesperson and national director for many years. I particularly enjoyed the grassroots organising I did with AME. Through AME I made many good friends and learnt a lot.

But I don’t feel I am abandoning it.

AME’s agreement with Australians 4 Equality ensures it has access to some of the best PR, IT and community organising specialists in Australia.

Meanwhile, I will be finding new ways to take AME’s stated opposition to a plebiscite to the next level.

I will continue to advocate for marriage equality itself. It is key to society’s recognition of the equal citizenship and full human dignity of LGBTI people.

But because a plebiscite compromises both those outcomes – because it is an inequitable and undignified process – I cannot resign myself to it and will campaign as hard as I can to stop it and all the damage it will cause.

*Rodney Croome is the former national director of Australian Marriage Equality. He has left to fight a marriage equality plebiscite and remains a campaigner for LGBTI rights

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: I don’t approve of the institution of marriage in any way, but, if we have to burdened with one, it should be equal for everyone. On Turnbull’s record since he knocked off Abbott, he has vacillated hither and yon on endless issues. If only he had the guts to stare down his captors and make a captain’s call to abandon the plebiscite course and give a conscience vote to parliament, he would put his parties’ loony religious/bigoted members where they belong — as a misguided, outrageously empowered, but, in reality, an intellectually atrophied rump on the Liberal/National political beast.

• Michael in Comments: The problem with a costly plebiscite is that you are asking a majority to vote on something that only affects a minority. How does letting two same-sex people marry affect my heterosexual marriage or yours? Why should I have a say in other people’s relationships. It should be a simple matter of our politicians looking at the issue, realising there is no logical region not to allow same sex marriage and simply voting for it. ‘Tradition’ is not a reason to exclude people from marrying who they choose. If ‘tradition’ is an issue for people then perhaps we should be lobbying for the removal of voting rights for women and placing aboriginal people back on the flora and fauna list.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Len

    August 18, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Well Tim a lot of people took me seriously about The Greens and only outright mendacity offered some encouragement to Labor. Without the outside supportive scare campaign and Labor’s endorsement by silence of that specious activity the vote might have gone otherwise. But then what would a Social Historian know about anything.

  2. Christopher Nagle

    August 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Much of this conversation is being carried on AS IF parliaments and popular majorities actually had the right or even the capacity to make very long term fundamental decisions about our species identity.

    If over the last 30 years we had been badgered and lobbied not by the slogan ‘marriage equality’, but ‘incest is best’, with lots of serious academic discussion about the measurable emotional depth of brotherly and sisterly ‘love’, and scientific papers about the repressive consequences of ‘forbidden love’ and the mental health issues and suicides it causes, lots of film stars and famous authors ‘coming out’ that they too have had incestuous affairs, popular TV series exploring the ‘difficult issues’ of incest, films like ‘Brother Simon and Sister Samantha…King and Queen of the Desert’ glamming it up, incest mardi grass- ‘keeping it in the family and on the street’, authoritative commentators opining the wisdom of being ’empathetic’ with those who ‘cannot help’ their ‘deep feelings’ for those ‘closest’ to them….then by now we would be somewhere near a very similar cultural coup de grace type plebiscite or whatever….wouldn’t we?…

    The execrable baloney is that marriage equality was ever a legitimate exercise for people who are sexual marginals and off message. And to pretend that they are not is a well crafted campaign of emperor’s no clothing, and no naughty and naive little boys or girls allowed, who might call the bluff and spoil the parade.

    Democratic majorities cannot decide these things because those majorities are temporary, the circumstances that produced them are temporary and our fundamental species identity can’t be banished forever because the propaganda system that made it possible, is….temporary.

    I say to my homosexual brothers and sisters, you have already got a great deal in terms of acceptance, status and well being, which can be improved on with ongoing goodwill.

    But don’t screw with the reproductive commons because hubris will produce the very things you most fear, the end of your social licence, almost as certainly as night follows day.

  3. Tim Thorne

    August 18, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Pull the other one, Len. Some politicians have already said how they will vote on this issue, regardless of the outcome of the plebiscite. And it is a plebiscite, not, as you call it, a referendum. Referenda have a defined place in our democratic procedures, their own rules and requirements, and are binding.

    As for your last sentence, it contains a claim about the beliefs of organisations for which you produce no evidence. On the surface it seems absurd, but I suppose that if that is how you want to think, then go ahead. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  4. Len

    August 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    On such a major issue Tim, the Federal Parliament is bound to listen to the national consensus. This includes the determinations of State and Territory governments. Members of parliament are very conscious of electorate opinion and particularly on major issues; or issues that have been amplified by over-vocal minorities and news desperate sensationalist journalists and media lime light cravers.
    One feels that the idea of holding a referendum is sound and that this issue has serious social ramifications to invite a full Democratic expression of the National will. We are in the contemporary world too often swayed by the over-vocal minorities and being told what is p.c. and what isn’t p.c., and this is a social sickness that ought to be un p.c.in itself. No doubt those for and against this motion will each consider that the other side is not politically correct. Inter parliamentary factions are a factor that calls their ability to legislate into increasing question and an administration with a slender – almost nonexistent – majority is seriously less able to express accurate majority opinion and to protect Democracy. Particularly here in Australia where the Greens and Labor do not believe in Democratic process verging towards totalitarian “we know best” government.

  5. Tim Thorne

    August 18, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    #57, Definitely not. The plebiscite will not be “a determination on conflicting views”. As it should be, the matter will be decided by a vote in Federal Parliament. It was suggested in #54 that the plebiscite would be a form of consultation. I was proposing a cheaper one while pointing out that governments historically have taken little note of public opinion if there have been other factors influencing their decisions. There have often been people and institutions whose opinions outweighed those of the majority. The Turnbull government is beholden to the Abetz faction of its own party hence the sop of a plebiscite on marriage equality.

  6. TGC

    August 18, 2016 at 12:33 am

    #52 The government is the ‘marriage wholesaler’ and it’s already a sign of difficult debates ahead when there’s such as “and to provide an opportunity for homophobes to vent their unhealthy rhetoric.”
    Further: “any reputable polling company could gauge public opinion reliably enough and at a fraction of the cost.” suggests #54 would be happy enough with such for parliamentary elections-or any other circumstance requiring a determination on conflicting views.

  7. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 17, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Much to like in the overview offered in Comment 53, particularly with its echo of John Stuart Mill in “so long as they harm no others”.

    One point: involvement with the Law is more often than not unavoidable because the welfare of children, as well as the personal ownership of property, is also usually involved – love is definitely not all you need.

  8. Tim Thorne

    August 17, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    In response to the third purpose for the plebiscite, suggested in #54, any reputable polling company could gauge public opinion reliably enough and at a fraction of the cost. Regardless of the outcome it will still be up to our elected representatives. They have a strong track record in ignoring the wishes of the majority.

  9. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 17, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    In Comment 52, it is claimed “so we are paying for two things: to provide arse-cover for politicians, and to provide an opportunity for homophobes to vent their unhealthy rhetoric”.

    How about a third: giving We the People a say in this matter? After all, don’t a majority of TT posts urge more ‘consultation’ by the powers that are?

  10. Len

    August 17, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Objection to calling the union of same sex couples “marriage” has little in many cases, to do with Homophobia. Homophobes object to homosexuality in all of its forms and not always on a religious or faith foundation, finding it in their opinion, an unnatural and to them, an abhorrent practice. Most do not object to the notion that people of the same sex can love one another. The physical aspect of that love – the conflict between Eros and agape – stands as a dreadful barrier for acceptance.
    Assuming, or suggesting, that church marriages are all “commercial, stage setting or artificial” is absurd, over-vocal. spiteful and objectionable. The sort of language that creates an even greater division on this subject. As in all debate we must with regret, allow for graphic overstatement and pointless assumptions.
    Find another name for same sex marriages and you will increase your ability to be successful, even if most of us see no point in the argument anyway. We do not care how other people live although many things are better kept behind closed doors including our private lives. Those married conventionally or living unmarried – it used to be called “living in sin” – do not go about talking about it. No one cares if they were married in a church, a registry office or if they didn’t bother about either. It might seem to many that people should get on with their private lives, so long as they harm no others by practice or influence with undesirable intent and consequence, and enjoy their associations,loves and intent to live an honest and valuable life both to themselves and others. That is all society can ask of anyone.
    As the world is now, and our so called “secular society” fewer people will get married according to formal practices and the thing will cease to have any social relevance anyway. Equality cannot perhaps be legislated so much as adopted by custom.

  11. Tim Thorne

    August 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    #51: interesting phrase, “marriage retailers”. The government is the only “marriage retailer” in the business. Churches provide venues and scripts for that section of the entertainment industry known as the wedding business.

    Personally, I believe that government should butt out of the whole issue of marriage and treat citizens as individuals regardless of their sleeping arrangements. This, of course, won’t happen in the short term. In the mean time, as long as there are laws pertaining to marriage, then those laws should apply to everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

    The most important point about the plebiscite remains that it is not binding and the decision will be made by Parliament, so we are paying for two things: to provide arse-cover for politicians, and to provide an opportunity for homophobes to vent their unhealthy rhetoric.

  12. TGC

    August 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

    #28 No! nor can there be at the moment because it-‘Marriage Equality’-change to the Marriage Act- hasn’t happened yet. But, should it- then logically all marriage retailers should be subject to the
    same ‘conditions’
    Now,whilst some ‘exceptions’ may be built into a new Act- those who promoted that Act would eventually petition for most of those to be removed.
    That’s how ‘fundamental change’ occurs- piece by piece.

  13. Len

    August 16, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Well said Christopher.

  14. Christopher Nagle

    August 16, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    When one gets beyond the basics, equality only applies if you actually qualify; if your claim can withstand critical inspection to see whether it is bona fides or a pretentious con. Entry into the company of a particular equality isn’t automatic, just because you are you, necessarily. You have to justify the claim in ways that will meet not just the immediate circumstances, but the test of time, especially a coming time of convulsive change; you know, what you are forever telling those pesky neo-cons….sustainability.

    When you speak of ‘equality’, what you really mean is creative equivalencing to crib and fudge your way into the intergendered centrepiece of genuinely reproductive society, by pretending that ideologically opportunist cuckoos really belong in that nest. And if you do enough social engineering, given the almost destroyed character of our reproductive commons, it isn’t that difficult to make it stick.

    The way the crib/fudge works is that you reconstruct human identity into ‘sexuality’ (sexistentialism), reproductive society into a ‘lifestyle’ (consumerist ideology) and reproductive species mentoring into ‘caring’ (which nannies, teachers, Fagan’s gang and even Mowgli’s wolves can do). And of course, one ‘sexuality’ or ‘lifestyle’ or caringness is the same as another; ergo equality done and dusted and the rest is history. This is of course balls aching baloney of the first order…..and won’t last five seconds under real critical scrutiny, particularly when one sunny day reproductive society starts to get its dentures back.

    Marriage ‘equality’: who could possibly object to that other than a bunch of ‘ignorant’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘blindly prejudiced’ old whiteboy homophobic obstructors of progress and the light of civilization as we know it….? That of course isn’t an argument, or a debate, even a rationalization. It is the sort of reputation assassination that was standard fare if you were say a Jew in Nazi Germany during the thirties.

    Slogans and character assassination are the propagandist’s only real friends.

    Tim, you and your friends are not being ‘insulted’. They are just being subjected to the awful truth. They are not being ‘abused’. They are just not used to being stood up to and given some tough feedback. And of course none of you can tell the difference between abuse and toughness anyway. And no you are not being ‘discriminated’ against, you are merely the subject of ordinary and reasonable critical judgement.
    Group ‘stereotyping’ is perfectly proper if that group has a propensity for poor and opportunistic behaviour. You glibly talk about ‘community’ when the going is good and warm fuzzies are getting distributed around, because a few have won credit for the ‘team’, but when the going gets a bit tough and there is some shitty ‘team’ behaviour and attitude going down, then suddenly everyone is an individual innocent and wanting ‘fair’ because they know that no one tell these days just how far ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ have degenerated into special pleading and feckless excuse making, that any moron can get away with.

    And finally Tim, there is no such thing as anything that is ‘beyond your control’, even under the most extreme circumstances, where you must choose whether to live or die. If you are serious about human autonomy and empowerment, then there is no such thing as ‘powerlessness’. And when you tell people or excuse their poor behaviour and bad attitude because ‘they can’t help it’, you are colluding in their corruption and corrupting yourself.
    The acceptor of excuses is as crummy and dishonest a deadbeat as the excuse maker, which is why I have so come to detest and despise what has happened to liberal ideas over the last 60-70 years. When you give out rights and equalities like consumer freebies and effectively disconnect the necessary species identity, maturity of judgement, training, mentoring, strong values construction and conformity to the virtues they embody; the virtues that underpin those rights, then you have effectively disembowelled your culture and handed it lock stock and barrel to the masters of business administration and marketing. They love necrotic social product; the ideal consumer.


  15. Christopher Nagle

    August 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Reference comment 44: Tim, the sobering fact that we are having a plebiscite and any sort of discussion about this subject at all, is a measure of how far the homosexual marriage agenda has been pushed over the last 20-30 years. And in the very likely eventuality that it is a majority yes, then it is only a matter of time before it gets into the election cycle as a mandate issue.
    The underlying point I am making is that over that period and going back really to the beginnings of the post war consumer/sexual ‘revolution’, there has been a steady drift from popular sovereignty to the sovereignty of corporate marketing/PR machinery.
    The tobacco industry was a pioneer at showing just how ridiculously easy it was to shape public opinion and corrupt its judgement. And in the process, public discourse moved from genuine debate, to propaganda and then to deliberate thought management in ways so much in advance of the old autocracies, that if Joseph Goebbels were to come back today, he would have to go back to school to get a sniff at a job in a modern propaganda plant.
    Anybody wanting to get their agenda into the public realm under indulgence capitalism would have to use the corporate mind management technology to get it done, and that includes the homosexual lobby. They have followed the playbook faithfully and what that means is that it is no longer a question of whether the message is baloney or not, but whether it can be ‘communicated’ successfully.|

    The homosexual message is no more legitimate than the that of the tobacco lobby, because the techniques it uses are exactly the same. The homosexual marriage ‘debate’ is just as much a sham as the fossil fuel lobby campaign to show that climate science is a fraud, because there is no real debate at all. That is why climate scientists who blithely imagine that the truth will out, keep getting creamed by people who understand how the system works, like Andrew Bolt, who knows that plausible believability is the perfect match to the prejudices of his audience. And the homosexual lobby is simply a mirror image of Andrew, only with different sponsors and prejudices.

    “Isn’t that a delightful insight children”? “Yes Miss.

    Tim, to suggest that ‘all people (should) have equal rights and opportunities’ is a feel good motherhood myth on about the iconic level of a Coca Cola ad. It has no content other than its emotive power, which if repeated often enough as a mantra, mass populations will not so much believe as soak it up. That is how the system works; how you convert populations of ideological browsers into consumers of the message; how you persuade otherwise rational people to drink bottled water at $2.50+ a package plus throwaway costs, instead of tap, which is virtually free.

    You can have all the equality you want if you are smart enough to make the system work for you. But please Tim, spare me the secular version of divine providence and the will of The Almighty, as if the human rights agenda was brought down from Sinai by Moses on concrete tablets! That is just a little fantasy to get off on with your friends over one or two drinks too many.

    When one actually drills down into the propaganda spiel and starts to quantify it concretely, it slips through the proverbial fingers because there are just so many variables and contexts, and the word ‘equality’ is so ideologically overloaded it is almost impossible to have a rational conversation about it. Other than the absolute basics of ensuring that everybody gets sufficient legal, state and familial resources, training and support to reasonably participate as a citizen and worker to his or her level of talent and ambition, ‘equality’ is pure unadulterated cliché.

    cont …

  16. Second Opinion

    August 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    At the news of a shooting in an Orlando Florida Nightclub, Rodney Croome was very soon publicly decrying the Orlando incident as a hate crime against homosexuals. Can a homosexual be homophobic to such a degree as to commit such a crime? The perpetrator had actively engaged in social contact at the club. Do we instead blame his wife?
    Just wondering.

  17. abs

    August 15, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    what experience Len? i have a phd in clinical psych. my professional experience informs my position, as does the literature on increased suicide rates for LGBTI populations and identified key causal indicators of minority stress.

    so without vague, non answers, len, what experience or insight?

  18. Len

    August 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    42, Yes, you are very wrong.

  19. Tim Thorne

    August 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Christopher, you miss the point. It’s not about “win[ning] the plebiscite”. I don’t give a fig for the “result”. It will be a waste of public money because it will have no binding effect on how Parliament votes.

    As for the question of “equality”, I believe that it should be a fundamental basis of society that all people have equal rights and opportunities. Of course we are all different and of course that ideal is a long way off being achieved.

    I am yet to be convinced that abusing, insulting or discriminating against anyone because of their gender, race, age, sexual orientation, different mix of abilities, hair colour or any other factor beyond their control, adds anything positive to the world. Perhaps I would make an exception for Carlton supporters, but then, they do have a choice.

  20. Second Opinion

    August 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I came across this Conversation Piece just last night, remarkable not for the subject matter, but for an extended stoush (politely) between a woman and a man; she from a lesbish viewpoint, was taking the Croome position on the plebiscite.
    I do have concern for any woman who considers carrying a child for a friend who is a practising homosexual. This crossed my mind as I read this piece.


  21. abs

    August 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm


    “We are bound therefore, to hear that people do insane things including self-harm and suicide. and to hear claims that it was due to being denied public recognition by universal acceptance. These claims are obviously exaggerated, too simplistic and absurdly over emotive.”

    i doubt you have experience or insight to make this claim. please let me know if i am wrong, however you statement is certainly not consistent with my informed position.

  22. Christopher Nagle

    August 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I have seen better propaganda films out of Nazi Germany. If you can get your hands on a copy of ‘The Jew Suss’ you will find an equally entertaining piece of nonsense that won the Golden Lion prize for the 1940 Venice Film Festival…Unlike a lot of Her Goebbels’s films, it was a roaring box office success.

    Tim, you ask the question about sexual ‘equality’ and I tell you it is a spurious crib and ideological tripe that has been pushed by a very long standing marketing/PR campaign. It is the same kind of sloganeering baloney that has comes out of the tobacco, gun, Zionist and neo-con fossil fuel playbook.

    Equality is an ideological play word that is excellent for grand ideological airy-fairying, but as soon as it comes down earth, concretely, it is almost meaningless, because there is not nearly as much equality to be found anywhere in practice, in the real world.

    Insofar as there is some approximation of equality within a particular context, you have to qualify by meeting the standards and criteria for it. And while cribbing your way in may work for a while, when the ground rules change, as a result of historical change, the crib will just end up causing a lot of grief, especially when dealing in areas where there are hormonal juices swilling around and not much software, in the bit of our brain we share with crocodiles, that is just bound to get churned up because the going in late capitalism is going to get really tough.

    The social commons has been systematically trashed since the ’60s and much of our reproductive infrastructure lies in ruins. Any opportunist can take advantage of that now.

    Indulgence capitalism encourages people to try and have their cake and eat it. As Arlo Guthrie sang back in the ’60s, “You can have anything that you want in Alice’s restaurant….” And you can, for a while, until you can’t….

    If you are interested in maintaining the gains that have been made for people who are a little bit sexually ‘different’, leave the reproductive commons alone. And if you don’t, just do not expect any mercy when the shit hits the fan, as it almost certainly will, in the not necessarily far distant future.

    If you want a taste of what can happen to homosexuals in the declining decades of the modern world, check out anywhere that isn’t under the temporary thrall of the humanist libertati, whose influence pretty much stops at the boundaries of Western Europe and its old colonial and ex-colonial emigration routes. What you are seeing isn’t a last ditch defence of an old order, but a very determined counter-attack to destroy any influence homosexual sympathizers might have gained in the last hundred years.

    Do you really want to go there Tim? Do you want to live dangerously? Keep doing what you are doing. Win the plebiscite. It’ll feel just beaut….for a while.


  23. Christopher Nagle

    August 15, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Tim Thorn in comment 21 asks a couple of fundamental questions which I think go to the heart of what the proposed plebiscite is about.

    Why should anyone care about your off message ‘sexuality’, as long as you do not bother anyone else with it? The answer is very likely to be a pretty universal tolerant indifference. Most of us really don’t care.

    Any fetish, whether it is being urinated on, or shoe kissing, or underwear sniffing, or nappy wearing or sado/masochistic torture or going for the wrong part of the wrong sex is tolerable as long as you don’t go around pretending that is some sort of state of sexistential grace about which the rest of us have to give our unqualified blessing.

    And it really helps to win our confidence, if you are say into sadomasochism, if you keep your celebration of it off the streets.

    Further, it would be really appreciated if you had the humility and honesty to admit that any sexuality that is not part of the the critical reproductive infrastructure of inter-gendered partnering and parenting, is an off message mistake, that you do not want to be mentoring into another generation, either directly or indirectly. And whether that mistake was a result of sexual misassignment in the first place or illicit adolescent encounters later, is neither here nor there. Human sexuality can go anywhere if you let it, or indulge its acolytes.

    In ‘Pricilla Queen of the Desert’, a man deserts his wife to ‘find himself’ amongst a group of cross dressers who try to make it as all lipsync ‘n dance performers in amongst the red necks of the wild white outback. The apotheosis of this heroic sexistentialist saga is when the hero’s long suffering, ever accommodating and unbelievably enthusiastically supportive wife sends their adolescent son with his dad for tranny adventures in the deep J, where no doubt he can ‘find his sexuality’ with the help of the transgendered gang. And if he turns out to be straight, well there you go…sweet…

    cont …

  24. Len

    August 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    As in all minority causes there is a strong element of false association and dramatisation. We are bound therefore, to hear that people do insane things including self-harm and suicide. and to hear claims that it was due to being denied public recognition by universal acceptance. These claims are obviously exaggerated, too simplistic and absurdly over emotive.
    They belong in Russian novels written before the death of Tolstoy in 1910 and are all too depressing to be taken seriously however tragic.

  25. Second Opinion

    August 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Rodney Croome ascribes the death of a friend by suicide to gay hate. . He has also internalised the Orlando incident.
    In the nineties I experienced a similar experience. It was a time when JW Howard was continuing a campaign started by Keating. I attended six funerals in the space of nine months. All of them were suicides in the face of a Government crackdown on unemployment and living arrangements. This would not have impacted on homosexual recipients because the Department ignored such liaisons.

  26. Len

    August 13, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Perhaps this is a matter that we could all let slide in the face of far more important national and international economic and social issues. It is a minority factional concern and has very little to do with most people’s everyday lives.
    Would someone like to give all of us a good reason why we should call these partnerships “marriage” or why we should call the Sun the Moon and the Moon the Sun.

  27. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Agree generally with the distinctions at the end of Comment 34, albeit with ‘marriage’ referring to religio-cultural tie-ups which are (in some / many ways) parallel to, but distinct in Law from, legally contracted civil unions. Such links would have no force in Law.

  28. Second Opinion

    August 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Moderator, I’m wondering whether Garry Stannus at #34 intended having his Email address published. If so, then so be it .
    Second Opinion

  29. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    August 13, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Rodney Croome seems to oppose the proposed plebiscite not only because he thinks it might result in the dissipation of the momentum towards ‘marriage equality’, but also because it might produce “hate and fear-mongering”: his memory of a young man’s suicide – and the reasons that drove that young man to it – are said to be driving his (Rodney’s) growing opposition to a plebiscite – his “growing anti-plebiscite advocacy”.

    The ‘elephant in the room’ of course is the possibility that a plebiscite will reject the concept of ‘same-sex marriage’.

    It seems to me that it is possible that not only does some of the opposition to a plebiscite come from fear of a public rejection of ‘same-sex marriage’, but also that such opposition hides this fear-of-failure reason behind a ‘there will be a hate campaign’ if we have a plebiscite, ‘there will be fear-mongering’ if this is given to the general voting public for decision.

    For the record, I support both state and national civil union legislation to provide same-sex partnerships with the same rights, conditions etc as are enjoyed by those who are married. By ‘married’ I mean heterosexual couples who have had their partnerships recognised via public Church and/or State ceremony/formal procedure.

    I do not support the proposal for so-called ‘same-sex marriage’. Call it something else, but please, don’t call it marriage. That term has always described the state or condition of being ‘husband and wife’.

  30. Len

    August 12, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Tim, One neither objects nor argues with your thoughts. One is used in academia to using the Devil’s Advocate. Yet, I do also think that there is something of an actual war here. People fighting against pre-conceived ideas and established social moral conduct. There is a greater social law than our parliaments, and in Australia this situation is amplified by too many representative bodies. Social acceptance of same sex marriage will not be an easy transport.
    Perhaps those wishing to “marry” might have a better chance if they agreed to call it by another name that did not find conflict with established annotation. “A rose by any other name………”.
    The notion that Australia is a secular democracy is an overstatement. We may have thrown the baby out with the bath water in this assumption and a cost for an action too premature might yet have to be paid. Many might argue that we are already paying both an economic and a social price; and some might believe that we are very unwise to remove various religious ethics from our lives.

  31. Tim Thorne

    August 11, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Len (#30), I find your use of terms such as “battle” and “war” mystifying and somewhat disturbing.

    Australia is a secular democracy. Laws are made by our elected representatives. It’s really that simple.

    As for minorities, every political party is a minority. Some minorities are more vocal than others. Some are better organised or smarter at using information media. Minorities can only achieve their aims by persuading enough others to agree with them, in which case, on the issue at hand, they are no longer a minority.

    Those who are same sex attracted and who wish to marry the person they love want the right to do so. This is what is proposed. Whether or not there is “wide or total public acceptance” of gay marriage is another question. On the other hand, wide acceptance of the fact that they are humans with rights equal to those of other humans should be a given.

  32. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    August 11, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I accidentally switched on the do not notify button, so I am posting to get back on.

    Ed: Click the ‘notify me of follow up comments’ Christopher

  33. Len

    August 11, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    “If” is a very big two letter word. The over-vocal minority does not always carry the motion. (Hence the over-vocal Greens have fallen from their uncompromising pinnacle of wonderland white rabbit fantasy following.) For as long as we are even nominally a Christian Country the Christian view will have a very loud voice and great influence. Look for change? That may be towards another faith even more opposed to homosexuality and a swing towards same sex marriages may have serious future repercussions.
    The thing may carry, but it will never enjoy wide or total public acceptance in contemporary society. If it carries it can only be via a Democratic process and public tolerance is always an elastic faculty likely to spring back when it is least expected.
    If attained it will be a hollow victory winning the battle but still at risk of not winning the war.

  34. Second Opinion

    August 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    This issue goes far beyond the purview of politics and it’s proclamations.
    A plebiscite is an attempt to put the matter beyond politics.

    There is a victim-hood; and there is a victim.
    If I look for the victim now, I see it in the rise of commercial surrogacy, where for the mere provision of a semen sample, a man can procure himself a baby.
    Not just any baby, which comes ready or not, within or without the contract of “Marriage Now”, but one “chosen” for desirability and self- fulfilment purposes.
    This is a promotional video from Tammuz International; active until recently in Thailand and Nepal.


  35. Tim Thorne

    August 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    TGC (#27), do you have evidence for this outlandish claim?

  36. TGC

    August 11, 2016 at 10:29 am

    #26 “…the churches can make their own rules for their own services to their own members.”
    But quite probably not for long if the Marriage Act is changed.

  37. Tim Thorne

    August 10, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Len (#23), legally they are different and several politicians have already announced that they will ignore the plebiscite result and vote against change. They might be “brave”, but they are, more importantly, extremist christians, happy to destabilise the Turnbull government.

    Lower House members whose electorates vote “no” are less likely to worry about their stance.

    To think that, because we are a democracy, the majority prevails is, to use your word, whimsical in the extreme.

    As for your comment in #25 about the churches: this proposed change affects civil marriages; the churches can make their own rules for their own services to their own members.

  38. Len

    August 10, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    One wonders where this spilt between church and civil marriages fits into this situation. Very few churchmen – ordained – will actually perform same sex marriages, and almost exclusively therefore the venue will have to a registry office or civil celebrant affair.
    Should we come out in majority favour of this we can hardly expect the Pope to allow the R.C. clergy to bless same sex marriages and one doubts that the C of E will be taking a different line. The prayer book asks do you take this woman and this man respectively and will not be changed at the whim of a minority even if they gain majority support.

  39. Simon Warriner

    August 10, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    re 22, Yes, Leonard. The fly in that ointment is our half pregnant stance on religion and politics.
    we pretend to be a secular state but cling to the old ways because we have a head of state who is also head of the nominal religion which has almost as many active members as the two major political parties together. Its a relic that is kept around, perhaps because no one has thought to ask why.
    Perhaps putting religious marriage second to the civil ceremony would devalue the religious side and thus devalue the monarchy, which is anointed by god, or so they would have us believe.

  40. Len

    August 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    A nice distinction 21, but it contemporary terms and by social acceptance, one thing is the same as the other in common and socially assumed practice. If the majority came out in favour of this change it would be a brave politician – and a very foolish one – to front his electorate with a refusal to endorse their majority choice. We still live in a Democracy and the majority prevails.
    The law should treat everyone equally but the law never has. We endorse and admire the aims of all who seek social equality but we all know that it will never exist. It is like wealth, happiness and all human ambitions “whimsical”.

  41. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    What if our Constitution’s Section 51 (xxi) changed from “marriage” to “civil unions”?

    According to ‘civil unions’ in Wikipedia, this is what the law has been in France from 1792 during the Revolution, when religious marriage ceremonies in France were made secondary to civil marriage. Religious ceremonies could still be performed, but only for couples who had already been married in a civil ceremony. (Napoleon later spread this throughout most of Europe.) In present-day France, only civil marriage has legal validity. A religious ceremony may be performed after the civil union, but it has no legal effect.

  42. Tim Thorne

    August 10, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Fact: It is not a referendum; it is a plebiscite. Plebiscites have no constitutional standing and are not binding.

    Question: Why does one’s sexual orientation matter to anyone else?

    Opinion: The law should treat us all equally.

  43. Second Opinion

    August 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Thank you Christopher at #19. Your previous contribution here begged to be applied to this issue., and you’ve delivered.
    Rodney Croome seeks to deny us the right to speak openly.
    Good old matrimony, as Rodney calls it, needs no changing.
    It defines itself.

  44. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    August 10, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Homosexuals fear a plebiscite because it isn’t quite so easy to dominate the conversation when the issues become a matter of debate rather than a very one way public relations exercise. My homosexual brothers and sisters have lifted the kind of PR playbook perfected by the tobacco, US gun and Zionist lobbies and applied it with considerable effect over a long period.

    Simple repetition of plausible sounding slogans through numerous mouthpieces and forums is what does the trick. That is propaganda 101. And hell, if the system is there, use it. The fact is, we live in a society where if you have enough resources, you can peddle anything and make it look like you have the verdict of history.

    Most of the tough ‘ground work’ has been done to the extent that even some heavy flak during a plebiscite won’t be enough to stop the momentum. But there will be moments when the homosexual lobby domination of the cultural discourse will be challenged sufficiently to make our rainbow friends just a little bit uncomfortable….briefly.

    They aren’t that used to being contradicted when their mantra of ‘equality’ seems so manifestly ‘self evident’. I so understand.

    If I were a homosexual, I would be reading the strategic signs of a coming period that has all the hallmarks of convulsive change, as the unsustainable features of consumer capitalism and its disinhibited laissez-faire ‘cultural arrangements’ come unstuck. I would be looking very hard at what kind of homosexual agenda was likely to be sustainable in the very long term.

    My assessment would be that moving in on the extremely damaged social reproductive machinery of late consumer capitalism is dangerous adventurism and that at some point, interference with it by sexual/political opportunists will blow up in their faces.

    So I would be heading for cover right now rather than waiting for the rush. But of course, when one is on a roll, the world is one’s oyster and the idea that that could possibly change just wouldn’t cross the collective mind.

    There will come a dreadful day when sexual/political cuckoos who have opportunistically raided the heterosexual commons will find themselves terribly exposed….and vulnerable. And when that happens, you really wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

    There will come a time when people will be agog with a kind of mystified disgust at what passed for wisdom in the first part of the twenty-first century.

  45. Len

    August 10, 2016 at 1:19 am

    One might ponder how one man can accurately represent everyone in his electoral community whilst at the same time following the Party line. It is all rather Gilbertian tra la la eh? “I always voted at my Party’s call and never thought of thinking for myself at all.” After the referendum they will all have to vote for that demanded by the majority. They have by agreeing to a referendum abdicated from their dubious right to vote in any other direction. The process overrides Parliament. This process leaves no room for a conscious vote and none should be allowed. That idea is absurd after a National referendum.

  46. Simon Warriner

    August 10, 2016 at 12:13 am

    What I find interesting about this issue is that it focuses attention on what the role of an elected representative actually is.

    The plebiscite will demonstrate where the electorates views are at, and it will be interesting to see if that view is reflected in the voting of the elected representatives. Without a plebiscite it could be argued that any perceived mismatch was down to misinterpretation by the representative. With a plebiscite the elected representatives are committing the crime of fraud if they do not vote the electorates clearly demonstrated intent, given that said representatives have accepted payment for the task of representation.

    Argument about voting the national result is dishonest. The elected representative represents only their electorate, not the nation.

    The time for elected representatives to try and lead the matter on way or the other is prior to the plebiscite. Once that result is declared the time for having ones own opinion is over.

    Far too often our elected representatives ignore their job title and the inherent description that comes with it and vote their individual preference or the preference of their party masters. In this case they cannot, unless they want a class action lawsuit for fraud heading their way.

  47. Len

    August 9, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    12, You have just given the reason why it should not be judged by any minority faction including members of parliament. They might vote along party and or popularity lines. The voice of the people expressed in majority is the better option.
    Question. “Why did you vote as you did Mr.Politician?” could be answered “Because the majority of the Electorate directed me so to do not perhaps here in Localsville but Nationally.”

  48. Len

    August 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    This issue is, or is presumed to be, a thing that meets the demands of a social minority. Statistics might surprise us but the issue covers a question of public concern in a Democracy. Such broad questions are not the province of minorities either in or outside parliaments. This one demands wide social endorsement. The question posed is a matter of serious concern, or peoples conception of, public morality. It has implications for future generations and their social endorsement of moral standards and general social ethics. For these reasons they are matters for public judgement and are rightly being placed to referendum the theatre of Democracy.

  49. Michael

    August 9, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    The problem with a costly plebiscite is that you are asking a majority to vote on something that only affects a minority. How does letting two same sex people marry affect my hetrosexual marriage or yours? Why should I have a say in other peoples relationships. It should be a simple matter of our politicians looking at the issue, realising there is no logical region not to allow same sex marriage and simply voting for it. ‘Tradition’ is not a reason to exclude people from marrying who they choose. If ‘tradition’ is an issue for people then perhaps we should be lobbying for the removal of voting rights for women and placing aboriginal people back on the flora and fauna list.

  50. Andrew

    August 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    #10 – it won’t be a waste of money, because it will give a clear indication of how much support there is, or isn’t, for gay marriage among the entire Australian voting public and not just the vocal minority who are advocating for it. If there is majority support for it, enact the laws. If there isn’t, keep advocating!

    Governments are learning that it is unwise to force major social changes onto the public without their consent.

  51. Tim Thorne

    August 9, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    If you were a politician representing an electorate a majority of whose voters had voted “no” in the plebiscite, which would you put first, your conscience or your career?

    There are plenty of corporate pollsters who can find out how the nation thinks without costing the taxpayers a cent.

  52. Len

    August 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    That Tim, one understands but many, and one feels being realistic the majority, believe that what matters is the will of the public, and that such a change in our language with all its social connotations is above parliament. One seriously doubts that they would defy the weight of public opinion if an obvious genuine social swing voted for this motion.
    Perhaps in today’s world they only listen when we vote and only hear us because they want our vote.

  53. Tim Thorne

    August 9, 2016 at 12:06 am

    A plebiscite can not be legally binding. It will be a waste of money because members of parliament can ignore the result.

  54. Len

    August 8, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    One did not mean to down rate same sex partnerships only to seek understanding as to why the term “marriage” is so important. So many people now do not bother to get married, so many divorce. Hence I do not understand the attraction of the term. So long as full legal partnership rights are maintained one sees no point in that which is different claiming to be the same. Marriage is defined in our society as the union of a man and a woman. Can not some other terms be applied for same sex unions? If it is the will of the majority of Australians to change an apple into an orange and to call it a pear, one has no objection but it all seems rather absurd. A storm in a tea cup in an age when no one cares about what other people do or how they live and sane rational people do not cast stones or sit in judgement.

  55. Doug Nichols

    August 8, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Why do you describe same-sex partnerships as “so-called” partnerships Len? Judging by the people I know who are in committed same-sex relationships, they are as real as anyone else’s. As for what to call the participants, what’s wrong with Mr and Mr, or Mrs and Mrs? Or… Why not let them choose their own labels? Does all this really shake the foundations of your world?

  56. Andrew

    August 8, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    A plebiscite seems like a fair way to determine whether the Australian voting population wants gay marriage or not. It’s a fundamental change to our society and to our future generations. Why shouldn’t each person have a say in whether he or she wants it? Politicians would never be able to have a fair debate about the subject, for fear of being howled down as homophobic and bigoted.Let the people decide whether or not they want to eat rainbow cake!

  57. len langan

    August 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Tim, When has it been possible to believe in the pre-election promises of any politician? It seems unfair to single out the Liberal Coalition in this.
    In may ways this debate seems absurd. If we are to call so called Gay partnerships marriages then is one partner going to be called Mr and the other Mrs? Otherwise their is no equality with the normal conventional titles and therefore no equality.

  58. Tim Thorne

    August 6, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    #3, They didn’t give a commitment that their parliamentarians would take notice of the plebiscite results. In fact many of them have vowed to vote against equality regardless of the outcome.

    And anyway, since when has it been possible to believe Liberals’ pre-election commitments?

  59. TGC

    August 5, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Because #1 doesn’t “approve of marriage in any way”- or, apparently the Liberal/National coalition- it seems the only logical outcomne would be not to have an opinion one way or the other.
    Certainly not to cast any kind of vote.

    And #2 You’ve gotta love calls on the reserve powers of the Governor-General” when it suits
    Perhaps #2 wasn’t around in 1975?
    And there is every likelihood “Australia’s treatment of minorities…(will be seen as ) shocking” if/when ‘marriage equality’ becomes law and the ‘minority’ who voted “No!” in a plebiscite are victimised

  60. Carlos

    August 5, 2016 at 1:46 am

    The Liberal Party went to the polls with a clear commitment for a “peoples vote” if elected. Guess what folks, they were elected. Accept the outcome and move on.

  61. Alice Grubb

    August 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    It is ridiculous! “unnecessary, wasteful and dangerous” Michael Short – The Sydney Morning Herald article 18 June 2016.

    Do your job, government. The High Court ruled in December 2013 that the Federal Parliament has the constitutional ability to pass legislation providing for marriage equality, (unlike say, Ireland).

    If only the reserve powers of the Governor-General could some how be used to force action…

    Australia’s treatment of minorities is absolutely shocking.

  62. Bob Hawkins

    August 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I don’t approve of the institution of marriage in any way, but, if we have to burdened with one, it should be equal for everyone. On Turnbull’s record since he knocked off Abbott, he has vacillated hither and yon on endless issues. If only he had the guts to stare down his captors and make a captain’s call to abandon the plebiscite course and give a conscience vote to parliament, he would put his parties’ loony religious/bigoted members where they belong — as a misguided, outrageously empowered, but, in reality, an intellectually atrophied rump on the Liberal/National political beast.

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