How Will History Remember You, Julia?

 

Gillard's 1984 student election commitment to support homosexual rights

Update Saturday, 3 December 2011:  The ALP has just voted to change the party’s platform on same-sex marriage while simultaneously guaranteeing that nothing will change. Julia Gillard has shown what kind of a Prime Minister she is. She is a Prime Minister who will trade her conscience for political expediency. She is a Prime Minister who will sell out equality for back room deals with political power brokers like Joe de Bruyn and Don Farrell.  The ALP has shown it is rotten to the core – it stands for nothing. It is a party of the past with no forseeable future. Julia Gillard has etched her place in history and history will judge her.

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This piece written 15 November 2011:

I have just sent the following email to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Ms Gillard,

The searing hypocrisy of a female PM, living in a defacto relationship at The Lodge arguing against same-sex marriage on the basis of preserving tradition is nothing short of appalling.

You deny same-sex couples the right to full equality because you believe in ‘tradition’ while happily taking full advantage of the fact that being a woman in a non-traditional role and non-traditional partnership is now socially acceptable.

Why is it socially acceptable for you to be the Prime Minister, Ms Gillard? Because thousands of brave people fought long and hard to break down ‘traditions’ which institutionalised inequality and injustice. Why are you able to hold the highest office in the land while ‘living in sin’? Because the tradition that would once have branded you a ‘scarlet woman’ has long since been overturned. This was the same tradition that kept Henry Parkes’ second wife – a woman who had once been his mistress – ostracized from polite society even after their marriage. Do you advocate that this ‘tradition’ should have been maintained?

Your hypocrisy is a betrayal of all that is right and fair. Your rejection of same-sex marriage is a betrayal of the 71 per cent of ALP voters who want your party to approve marriage equality.

As a student of history I am well aware of the Labor split in the 50s that confined Labor to opposition for decades. As a woman I am embarrassed that the person who is similarly destroying her party by artlessly mixing religion and politics is our first female (and atheist!) Prime Minister.

If you want to stand up for traditional values, Prime Minister, stand up for the traditional Labor values of equity and fairness. You think you might lose the conservative Christian vote if you support same-sex marriage? Just wait until the next election when ALP voters, abandoned by your party, vote with their feet. The swing to the Greens at the last election was just the beginnning. Perhaps you should consider another traditional Australian value you have cheerfully cast adrift – a fair go for all.

Change your mind, Prime Minister. You will lose far more if you don’t – your position, the government and the respect of the Australian people. Will you go down in history as the Prime Minister who had the chance to make a momentous change for equality and squibbed out of misplaced political pragmatism?

Your predecessor, Kevin Rudd did a lot wrong, but he will go down in history as the PM who said “Sorry” to the stolen generation. What will you go down in history for, Ms Gillard?

Chrys Stevenson

20 thoughts on “How Will History Remember You, Julia?

  1. Jayel

    Bravo, Chrys! Love the way you seem to get inside my head, read my thoughts, but express them so much better than I can!

    Reply
  2. Rod

    Howard will go down as letting the God-botherers into the tent, giving them a huge voice… and killing off small-l liberalism in the Liberals.

    Rudd will go down as letting the God-botherers stay in the tent, and kowtowing to them.

    Gillard will go down as capitulating left, right and centre to God-botherers, rather than showing the spine she should have.

    A spine that, say, Hawkie had in telling them to bugger off.

    Reply
  3. Miss Tammy

    I’ll sleep a little better tonight knowing that such smart, compassionate and right minded people DO move amongst us, excellent letter, i tip my beanie to you Chrys.

    Reply
  4. Bryan Milner

    As usual, well said. Makes you wonder about our democratic system when we have two issues (same sex marriage and dying with dignity) supported by substantial majorities in the community but our politicians know better than everyone else and block them.

    Reply
  5. Annie

    Well said and oh so obvious, Chrys.
    Kevin Rudd also did a hell of a lot RIGHT. I can send you a list if you like..however the need for the PM to constantly reinterate ‘tradition’ also appalls me.

    You speak for me ( again).

    Reply
  6. Lek Koswig

    I sent something today to the PM of a similar ilk but perhaps a little gentler (well said, by the way):

    Dear Prime Minister,

    I am a practising Christian, ‘middle-class’ Anglo-Saxon 42-year old, married mother of two boys and I support the call for EQUAL RIGHTS – marriage – for GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intergender) adults.

    Speaking woman to woman, surely you can’t deny the similarities of the stupid historical arguments for not allowing women to vote, or file for no-fault divorce, or, in the case of my (Anglican Australian) church, the ordination of women priests? When reflected upon years later, we may well think “how immature” or “how blinded” or “how ignorant” and even “how discriminatory” or even laugh at how pathetic those arguments were, yet the same (ir)rationale is used for discriminating against our fellow human beings today! I have family and friends who have been in a committed, loving, monogomous relationship for years. By this and this alone, they honour the institution of marriage. Yet, someone like Kate Khardashian (I’m sorry I can’t think of an Australian example at the moment) and suchlike can make such a mockery of it, not just once, but as many times as she wishes, simply because she was born heterosexual. My friends were born homosexual, and are disadvantaged for who they are.

    Please, from a mother of tomorrow’s adults, rethink your position on this.

    Reply
  7. Janice Wallace

    What will the Baptoatheist PM go down in history as?

    As a sham, as a political goose, as a supporter of the Australian Christian Lobby and Cardinal Pell, as a person who posed as an atheist, as a fraud, as a poor politician, as a compliant status quo-er.

    As someone who brought Federal politics into disrepute (as if they don’t all manage that from time to time) that even surpasses the work of Howard during his long and tiresome reign.

    Reply
  8. Sarah

    I am a lesbian. I have also sent a message expressing my disappointment in the PM’s stance on gay marriage.

    However, I believe that Julia’s legacy will, for the most part, be a positive one.

    Implementation of climate change legislation, equal pay for SAC workers, pokie reform, plain packaging, National Disablity Insurance Scheme, MRRT, record investment in mental health etc are just some examples that we are/we will see in her term.

    Her government is doing a lot of good and we shouldn’t overlook that.

    As for marriage equality, we just need to keep up the pressure. It’ll happen.

    Reply
  9. Rebecca

    My letter:

    Hi Ms Gillard,

    As a member of the GLBTIQ (or my preferred acronym QUILTBAG), I’d love to be able to marry my same sex partner if I wanted to. I don’t understand, when so much of “tradition” has been eroded (you can now be Prime Minister, 150 years ago that wasn’t likely), that the definition of marriage can be changed to include those who are same sex attracted.

    Given slavery (which is traditional) has been abolished, and women are now equal citizens with men (which is untraditional), and woman are no longer property (again untraditional), and children have rights, and people who aren’t the dominant ethic group have the same rights as those who are, that strict dietry requirements aren’t law (you can choose to not eat kosher or halal if you don’t want to), and you don’t even have to believe in a diety – why can’t we change the definition of marriage to be broader than a man and a woman?

    It’s time to listen, as a representative government should, to the majority of Australians that support equal marriage. It is time to ignore the religious right (who clearly are NOT representative) and forge ahead boldly.

    Please make history by supporting equal marriage, not maintaining a bigoted staus quo.

    Reply
  10. MikeW

    I’m so tempted:

    Dear Prime Minister

    You told British Prime Minster David Cameron that you had “good news for sheilas everywhere”[1]. When will you pronounce good news for poofters and lezzos everywhere?

    from a second-class citizen

    [1]http://media.smh.com.au/news/national-news/cameron-good-news-for-sheilas-2774290.html

    Reply
  11. Vicki

    This is not about opinion, nor is it a religious issue. This is a human rights issue and in that context It clearly violates people rights.

    Reply
  12. Vance

    Mark Butler (Minister for Mental Health and Ageing) :

    “I support a change to the Marriage Act and will oppose the granting of a conscience vote.

    Labor Party rules and traditions have long been based on the understanding that we have our debates in forums like the national conference and then all abide by the decision. The only exception in modern times has been in relation to so-called ”life and death” issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research.”

    http://www.alp.org.au/blogs/alp-blog/november-2011/conscience-vote-on-gay-marriage-not-enough/

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Forty-third Down Under Feminists Carnival « A Bee of a Certain Age

  14. Vance

    Completely agree with your update, Chrys. Although people like Doug Cameron seem to offer a glimmer of hope.

    How fascinating that Gillard was once an anti-nuclear campaigner as well. Now all she has to do is abandon any principles she might have formerly had about women’s rights, and the transformation will be complete.

    Reply

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