When Julia Gillard was the Australian prime minister, it was always a bit odd that she wouldn’t support full marriage equality. As Towleroad explains, a forum was held at the Sydney Opera House, and a young child asked Gillard why she didn’t “let gay people get married,” which drew cheers from the crowd. Her answer was interesting, as it wasn’t rooted in any sort of bigotry, but instead fell into what I feel is a common political trap, where people are so unwavering in their beliefs on a larger issue — in this case, is the institution of marriage, as it is currently constructed, a good thing? — that they can’t see the forest for the trees and work for the good of all people within the situation as it actually exists.
Here’s part of Gillard’s answer:
“I do understand that the position I took on gay marriage perplexed many people, given who I am and so many of my beliefs. I’ve actually had lots of conversations with many of my old friends about this – some of them have got a different view than me…But I’m a lot older than you, and when I went to university and started forming my political views of the world, we weren’t talking about gay marriage. As feminists, we were critiquing marriage….I’m conscious that these views are dated and that the way people interpret marriage now is different…I think marriage in our society could play its traditional role, and we could come up with other institutions which value partnerships, value love, value lifetime commitment…I have a valuable lifetime commitment and haven’t felt the need at any point to make that into a marriage.”
Gillard then added that there needs to be a conscience vote on the issue.