Wasn’t it heartwarming to see Senator Penny Wong’s emotion when the announcement of the ‘Yes’ vote brought to an end her long struggle for marriage equality? Sorry, no. The hypocrisy made me nauseous. Here’s part of what I wrote about Wong on this site a little over a year ago:
Back in 2010, Labor’s official policy was to support the traditional definition of marriage. In fact, Labor’s most prominent gay MP, Penny Wong, supported that very policy, saying at the time that there was a “cultural, religious and historical view of marriage being between a man and a woman” and, further, that this traditional definition of the term was worth preserving.
Let’s take Wong at her word, accept that she genuinely held that belief in 2010. If so, we can only conclude that, at some point in the past six years, she has come to accept that times have changed, her former view was wrong, and she is now eager to see implemented that which she formerly opposed. And here is the rub: in her newly acquired and ardent support of the rainbow crowd’s marriage agenda, she endorses the view of its loud and more emotional advocates that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage must be, by definition, a hateful and homophobic bigot.
When Wong examines her conscience — allowing that such periods of quiet reflection punctuate her busy schedule of ABC appearances — does it occur to her that she is herself the very model of subjectivism and intolerance. After all, just six yeas ago she opposed gay marriage. Now, having followed her own road to Damascus, she denies others the indulgence of the time in which to mull the issues and change their minds. There is one rule for Ms Wong, apparently, and quite another for everyone else.
Now let’s assume the more likely interpretation: Wong did not really believe her own words and was merely playing the political game when she was prepared to sacrifice same-sex marriage on the altar of her career. In this case, isn’t it hypocrisy on steroids for Wong to expect others, by which I mean those whose opposition to same-sex marriage is based on firm religious or secular conviction (for example, Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi) to abandon their beliefs just because it now suits Wong’s political and personal convenience to belatedly acknowledge her own?
Of course, where same-sex marriage is concerned there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around. While Wong takes the cake, a close runner-up is, of course, our pro tem Prime Minister who, according to The Australian:
…..claimed vindication for the postal survey which was bitterly opposed by his political opponents and some Coalition MPs.
“I guess it wouldn’t have happened without my pushing. There was a lot of opposition to having this survey. Crossbenchers, the Labor Party, even people on my own side that didn’t want to have it,” Mr Turnbull said.
Here’s Turnbull back in August, 2015:
“The reason I haven’t advocated a plebiscite after the next election is that it will mean that this issue is a live issue all the way up to the next election and, indeed, at the next election,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
Mr Turnbull said a free vote on the issue was “consistent with Liberal Party tradition”.
“One of the attractions of a free vote is that it would have meant the matter would be resolved in this parliament, one way or another, in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Turnbull was dragged kicking and screaming to support the plebiscite as one condition of continuing support for his failing prime ministership. Not exactly hypocrisy, but here’s Caroline Overington, also in The Australian, feeding the Turnbull myth:
Turnbull promised to take the same-sex issue to the public, and he faced raging opposition at every turn, from his own party, and from the other side.
Tony Abbott rose up like ghost of the party-poopers-past and threatened merry hell with the process, saying it wasn’t about marriage, it was about political correctness and so on, all designed to torpedo the thing.
Abbott has an honestly held belief, a religious conviction, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that’s fair enough. But let’s not pretend that he also doesn’t enjoy playing havoc with Turnbull’s prime ministership.
By the way, Caroline, it was Abbott’s idea in the first place, and it wasn’t formulated with an eye to delaying or frustrating the process but as a way forward for him to allow a conscience vote without, at the same time, alienating his conservative colleagues. Those conservatives, incidentally, were far more staunch in their convictions than Penny Wong.
And let’s not forget Bill Shorten, whose triumphalism might have been more justified had he stuck to his original line where, as recently as 2013, he told an Australian Christian Lobby forum he was:
“… completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite on same-sex marriage. I would rather the people of Australia could make their view clear on this than leaving this issue to 150 people.”
Then there are the multitude of commentators from both sides, who, singing from the I’ll Ride With You songsheet, maintain that the only ugliness in the debate came from a few social media fringe dwellers on both sides. That is patently false. SSM advocates were active from the word go in harassing and intimidating the No campaign.
And let’s not forget the SSM lobby itself, which could have had the result it wanted over a year ago had they not preferred to go on the offensive rather than concede an inch and avoid giving any possible credit to the Coalition.
So is there anyone in this whole process untainted by the charge of hypocrisy? Well, how about Tony Abbott? Clearly no homophobe, he steadfastly maintained his opposition to same-sex marriage while simultaneously putting in place the democratic mechanism by which it has been achieved. Even as an opponent he now graciously accepts that result. All he wants is to ensure that adequate protections for freedom of speech and religion, demanded by the 40% of No voters, are put in place. Abbott haters such as Niki Savva and Peter Van Onselen will portray this as just another example of his “wrecking” both SSM and Turnbull. They will, of course, ignore the fact that respected former PM John Howard demands the same thing. Howard’s concerns will be presented as misguided but sincere, while those of Abbott will be depicted as the “opportunistic” mouthings of a wrecker.
Hypocrisy, where would our political and media class be without it!