Surprise! Conservatives Are Already Trying To Ignore The Postal Survey

The results haven't even been released but conservatives are trying to delay the inevitable.

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Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Even before the results of the postal survey on marriage equality are released, conservative MPs and No campaigners are already trying to delay the passage of a marriage equality bill in parliament.

With all the votes in and counting underway, polls consistently show the Yes side with around 60 percent support. So unless something is catastrophically wrong with the polling, queer Aussies will be celebrating rather than commiserating when the results are released at 10am next Wednesday.

And while neither side will publicly say that they believe the race is over, both the Yes and No campaigns have turned their attention to Parliament, which is, y’know, the place where all of this should have happened in the first place.

For the Yes campaign, that means getting a marriage equality bill passed ASAP. They want it be the bill presented by Liberal senator Dean Smith, which was put together after a long consultation process that resulted in unanimous, multi-party consensus on the best way to legalise marriage equality.

The Smith bill contains some provisions for religious freedom — religious marriage celebrants wouldn’t be forced to conduct same-sex weddings — and is supported by the Yes campaign and Labor, as well as moderate Liberals.

But guess who doesn’t support it…. religious conservatives!

Shifting The Goalposts

Already, conservatives on the right wing of the Liberal party are throwing as much nonsense at the wall as they can, in the hope that some of it will stick. Here are just some of the ways they’ve tried to shift the goal posts this week:

  • Tony Abbott saying a 40 percent No vote would be a “moral victory” for the No campaign… But that’s not how maths works?
  • Liberal Senator Eric Abetz describing the Smith bill as “seriously inadequate”, despite the fact that the bill is a result of a long consultation process.
  • WA Liberal MP Ian Goodenough saying he’s working on his own bill that would have much broader exemptions for religious people. These exemptions will probably include giving religious business owners the right to discriminate against gay people, which opens up a real Pandora’s box of discrimination.
  • Kevin Andrews saying it’s not in anyone’s interest to “rush” legislation through, despite the fact that we’ve just been through a months-long campaign, which followed literally years of debate.
  • Cory Bernardi saying parliament shouldn’t deal with marriage equality while the citizenship crisis continues.
  • No campaign spokesperson Lyle Shelton saying that if the Yes vote prevails, he will “need to get straight back to work”, which means he’ll basically ignore the outcome and keep campaigning until there’s a marriage equality bill that he can support. Here’s the thing though there is no marriage equality bill that they’ll ever support.

What’s Really Going On Here?

Ever since Tony Abbott came up with the policy in 2015, a national public vote on marriage equality has only ever been about one thing: delaying the inevitable.

In the likely face of overwhelming public support for marriage equality, conservatives are going to pretend that there was an asterisk next to that Yes box. There wasn’t.

The No campaign threw everything they could at the wall in this campaign. Right from the start, they dispensed with the notion that it was about marriage. They wanted to pretend it was about religious freedom, Safe Schools or free speech. They got the debate they demanded, and they screamed these arguments from the rooftops.

If the Yes vote succeeds on Wednesday, it will be because the Australian people heard those arguments  and rejected them as the lies that they were. Conservatives will never accept any form of marriage equality. But there are enough people in parliament who will support it. If the Yes vote succeeds next week, it will be up to those people to ignore the cranks on the fringes and do what the people have demanded of them: Vote Yes.