Australian PM Kevin Rudd Wants a Vote on Marriage Equality

Earlier this week we reported that Australia had a new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, who recently endorsed marriage equality. Now Rudd has announced he wants to grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry, the WSJ reports:

RuddMr. Rudd said he wants a conscience vote for lawmakers on the issue, or to allow the nation to decide via a referendum.

"I am now the first prime minister of Australia who is a fully signed-up supporter of marriage equality," Mr. Rudd told reporters. "I would like to see this done. This causes so many people unnecessary angst out in Australia in the gay and lesbian community," he said.

The maneuver by Mr. Rudd, who has presented himself as a Churchgoing family man, is an attempt to broaden his appeal with voters beyond his traditional support base and sets up a clash with center-right leader, Tony Abbott.

Mr. Rudd was sworn in Thursday as prime minister after defeating rival Julia Gillard—an opponent of gay marriage—in a ballot that returned him to the party leadership three years after being toppled in an internal coup led by Ms. Gillard.

Advocates are happy for Rudd's support but concerned that a referendum would inspire a fear campaign:

Marriage equality advocates are thrilled the Mr Rudd has spoken about the issue in his first major media event, but do not support his call for a public vote.
Mr Croome said a process of a referendum would be "unnecessarily expensive".
He also said while he believed the majority of Australians would vote for marriage equality, he was concerned was about the process.

"We have consistently opposed a national plebiscite or referendum on marriage equality for a number of reasons," Mr Croome said.
"It could potentially be deeply polarising, becoming a platform for fear-mongering against the gay and lesbian community, and we think that our politicians are elected to make these kinds of decisions, rather than hand-balling them back to the voters. It could be quite destructive… particularly for young, same-sex attracted people coming to terms with their sexuality. They don't need to see the kind of fear and hate campaigns that I feel would inevitably come out during a referendum."


  1. Kiddo says

    Ok now that’s a new one on me!

    So basically “let’s protect the gays from the people who don’t want then to hsve rights, by not even proposing that they should have rights”

    Ingenious, REALY

  2. Jack M says

    They’re worried about a “fear campaign?” You mean like the ones that are carried on in the US?

  3. jdb says

    I was involved in Vote No campaigns to defeat anti-gay marriage amendments in both CA and MN. It was just as emotionally damaging to experience a winning campaign as it was to experience a losing campaign, for me personally.

    I ended up in a mental health unit for a week during the MN campaign, in fact. A suicide attempt made me realize that my constant exposure to anti-gay rhetoric, anti-gay campaigns, and anti-gay family members was worsening my depression.

    I cannot say enough how important it is to avoid referenda on civil rights and personal identity issues where at all possible. Where not possible, it becomes very, very, very important to check in with and support those struggling with the experience. I am very thankful that not only was Minnesotans United equipped to win, but that I had some of the most caring and wonderful co-workers a person could find.

  4. Dearcomrade says

    I would prefer the Parliament make the change than a referendum on rights. Having said that, I am impressed by Kevin Rudds quick action on this.

    The guy was sworn in yesterday!

    Between SCOTUS, The quick lifting of the California injunction and now reading this, WOW what a week!

  5. says

    Abraham Lincoln did not put it to a referendum because 90% of white Americans at that time believed dark-skinned people are fit to live among white folks only as slaves. Plus it’s in the Bible. Ownership of slaves, that is.