SYDNEY, Australia – While the U.S. awaits two Supreme Court decisions on the issue, both Australia and the United Kingdom look increasingly likely to follow as the next nations to permit same-sex “marriage.”
And just like in the U.S., the subject is creating deep divisions between segments of the population promoting homosexuality – and vowing to stay true to the Judeo-Christian values that have guided civilizations for millennia.
In Britain, a bill already has passed the lower House of Commons and now moves on to the upper House of Lords, and could be enacted as soon as May 2014.
Similarly, in Australia, the Greens (far left) party’s deputy leader has indicated he will seek to have his Marriage Equality Amendment Bill brought on for a vote in the House of Representatives on June 6. The amendment, if passed, would make same-sex marriage lawful in Australia, following 14 other countries and several American states that have moved on the issue.
The rapid emergence of “gay marriage” as a matter of prominence has stunned many in both nations, in line with America’s surprise when Maine, Maryland and Washington State endorsed moves to allow gay marriage in last year’s election.
The United Kingdom
In 2004, legislation was passed under the then-Blair administration to approve civil partnership, which satisfied the immediate desire for legal recognition of homosexual partnerships.
As a result, “gay marriage” barely presented itself in British national politics until this year. Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group and founder of the Conservative Grassroots (@ToryGrassroots) movement, said, “Gay Marriage has appeared from almost nowhere in the last few years. It wasn’t in the Conservative Party or Liberal Democrat Manifestos; it wasn’t in the Coalition Agreement; and it wasn’t in the Queen’s speech, but the government under David Cameron, in their wisdom, have decided to use the power of parliament to force it through against the best traditions of British democracy.”
With the bill now set to appear before the House of Lords (the equivalent of the Senate), Britain’s Conservative Party finds itself in a civil war over the current proposal, with Prime Minister David Cameron under fire.
Discussing the party’s meltdown, Harris-Quinney said:
“David Cameron has been the driving force behind it and has therefore utterly alienated himself from the conservative movement as a result. The Same Sex Marriage Bill has done irreparable damage to the unity of the Conservative Party, bringing severe divides at both parliamentary and grassroots level. The manner in which Cameron has forced this policy on the membership of the Conservative Party means that they are unlikely to ever support him again.”
Matters were not helped when, shortly before the bill came to its third reading in parliament, one of Cameron’s aides was heard to describe grassroots members of the Conservative Party as “swivel eyed loons.”
This follows the claims of Peter Tatchell, considered the pre-eminent British “gay rights campaigner” and a self-described socialist, that any vote against or amendment to the bill is “homophobic.”
Concerns exist over the so-called “quad lock” in the bill, designed to protect religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Several members of David Cameron’s cabinet, including his close ally Michael Gove, have privately advised they feel the “quad lock” will be overturned in court at a later date.
With Australia facing a national election in September, the same-sex marriage movement has moved into full swing, with two objectives in mind: Achieve the change, or at least elevate the issue in the pre-election period by clearly showing voters where each member of parliament stands.
Conservative leader Tony Abbott is now under renewed pressure to grant his MPs a free hand on same-sex “marriage,” with the Greens set to force a vote next month on marriage “equality.” In addition to this, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has “had a change of heart” on the issue, much in the same style as both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The Australian Christian Lobby has been fighting back.
“Marriage is not just an affectionate relationship between two people regardless of gender. Marriage has always been about providing stability and biological identity for children wherever possible,” Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.
Australian Sen. Penny Wong, an open lesbian, said the comments demonstrated “just how out of touch” the ACL is.
“This sort of bigotry really has no place in modern Australia,” she said.
Meanwhile, America continues to wait with bated breath on two pending Supreme Court cases. The Court heard oral arguments in March in Hollingsworth v. Perry, involving California’s Proposition 8 constitutional definition of marriage, and U.S. v. Windsor, regarding the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits recognition of marriages of same-sex couples for the purpose of federal benefits. A decision on each case will almost certainly be issued before the Court adjourns the last week in June.
The Prop 8 case revolves around whether voters in a state have a right to define marriage. In the DOMA case, the Obama administration effectively has used “nullification” to reduce its impact, stating publicly that the existing law will not observed or enforced.