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Civil Unions – is the deal sealed?

caf 5 December 2007 29

The CT today carries a story under the headline Stanhope digs in on gay unions, which at first glance appears to show Sonic attempting a bit of “shock and awe” with the new Federal Government on the contentious issue of gay & lesbian civil unions in the ACT. The rhetoric is firey – he has “warned his federal Labor colleagues against interfering in the ACT’s business”, he will “brook no such intervention from the new Prime Minister”, and even “We will do what we need to do to have it passed” (leaving open the pleasing potential for a blockade of Parliament house by ACT-government badged Priuses, until our demands are met?).

However, a moments reflection makes one wonder at the underlying Realpolitik. Consider the following:

* This was provided to the CT, presumably by the Chief Minister’s Department, yet there was no official media release. This allows the Chief Minister more control on the way in which his comments are reported.

* It is a silly tactic to enter into negotiations, declaring that you will not be moved in your position. If you cannot move in your position, there can be no negotiation.

* Our current negotiating position is apparently the “watered down” version of the Civil Unions legislation, not the original that was first rejected by the Howard Government. Usually in a negotation, you will begin by asking for more than you think you will get, allowing yourself room to move while still getting most of what you want.

* It would politically a bad move to nail one’s colours to the mast so comprehensively on an outcome that is beyond your control. This would leave open the possibility, perhaps even the probability, of being forced into a humiliating backdown.

The logical conclusion? That a deal has already been struck – presumably prior to the Federal Election – and Federal Labor has agreed not to overturn the ACT Government’s Civil Unions legislation, provided it is passed in the current “watered down” form. Stanhope’s comments today are simply playing to the local audience, allowing him to appear to have publically stood up to the Feds and driven a hard bargain. The real negotations have already been concluded.

Note also that Stanhope’s comments have also laid the groundwork for Federal Labor to use “states rights” as the reasoning for allowing the legislation through, which will save them from having to make a comment either way on what they think about the substance of the legislation.

At the end of the day, my assessment is that we will soon have Civil Unions here in the ACT, which is certainly a good thing. In addition, the acceptance of this legislation by the Federal Government will be on a “states rights” basis, which will set a precedent of sorts and that is an even better thing.

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29 Responses to Civil Unions – is the deal sealed?
Skidbladnir 5:48 pm 06 Dec 07

By the way, we seem to have pendulum-swung from being a canvas-hood lynch-mob to all over news about LBGTransgenderTranssexualQueer rights.

When’s the next Klan meeting, jb?

Skidbladnir 5:45 pm 06 Dec 07

There’s an update, if any moderator is approving.

boomacat 5:40 pm 06 Dec 07

In fact it is more technically correct to refer to marriage as a business transaction, that is where its historic roots lay (as in using female children as a bargaining chip), it got nothin to do with religious people and their imaginary friends.

dalryk 4:48 pm 06 Dec 07

Just for the record, the concept of marriage was around a long time before Jesus showed up (or Abraham or Mohammed or Buddha or even Zeus), so people claiming that it is somehow inhererntly tied up with religion just might want to rethink that little factoid.

Various religions might get all up in arms about people screwing with their concept of a ‘marriage’, but arguably they have no greater claim to the institution than do confetti manufacturers.

Except for the whole ‘god says so I’m right’ angle I guess.

Skidbladnir 3:16 pm 06 Dec 07

If only you’d made that comment re: the ACT Residency provision, the CT would have quoted you…
Maybe write a letter to the editor?

Mr Evil 2:31 pm 06 Dec 07

“Come up with a new name. Gayage fits.”

Capital Gayns?

Mælinar 1:58 pm 06 Dec 07

There is at least 2 definitions to marriage threading through this conversation.

Firstly, marriage as in two train carriages being connected. This is a descriptor that is used to define a connection.

Secondly, marriage as in a man and a woman legally connected to each other via a church. Post depowerement of the church nee the State, marriage was extended to mean a man and a woman legally connected to each other ‘not necessarily via a church’ – aka a registry wedding etc.

Both versions of marriage mean a coupling, but the definition pertaining to men and women is not really up for much more redefinition without getting a few family first members up in arms (I’m not even going near Toowoomba on this one)…

Come up with a new name. Gayage fits.

Jessica, I am avaliable for interview if you would like to use my comments.

GnT 1:43 pm 06 Dec 07

I agree. The thing that most compromises the sanctity of marriage is divorce, and that’s legal. How can more people getting married threaten marriage?

sjp 12:04 pm 06 Dec 07

heheheh @ Mr Waffle.

But seriously, i’m so over this whole sanctity of marriage BS. Straight people are soooo good at defending the sanctity of marriage aren’t they? People like Britney Spears and Heather Mills… they give marriage such a good name!

Ari 11:35 am 06 Dec 07

… yelling “We’re coming back”

Mr Waffle 11:26 am 06 Dec 07

When I read “gay union”, my first thought was of burly tradesmen wearing pink fluro jackets demanding workers rights with a lisp…

VYBerlinaV8 10:52 am 06 Dec 07

Caf – the definition was more in the order of a shallow comment, and not really intended to be a deep and meaningful expression of the meaning of marriage. That said, marriage has its origins in religion. If people want civil union then fine, but why argue about calling it marriage?

Mr Evil 10:12 am 06 Dec 07

If this law is passed, well I’ll be ‘spurned on” to put my “canvas” hood on and march on the Legislative Assembly……. 🙂

caf 10:01 am 06 Dec 07

VY: so if one partner in a traditional marriage was infertile, that’s not really a marriage either? I think your definition has a problem.

Skidbladnir 9:48 am 06 Dec 07

It probably won’t happen this election unless the ACT Libs can quit their fussin’ and a feudin’ and bring some order to their affairs, but it would be nice.
We can dream, can’t we?

johnboy 9:41 am 06 Dec 07

perhaps a precursor to the election loss we’re all looking forward to.

Only if there’s something better on offer surely?

Skidbladnir 9:26 am 06 Dec 07

Now, what if Jessica Wright’s researcher\mother could have ghostwritten on this thread instead…

But seeing Stanhope\Corbell retreating on an issue would be nice, and perhaps a precursor to the election loss we’re all looking forward to.

Absent Diane 9:25 am 06 Dec 07

what the fuck is sanctity of marriage. Its meaningless; so who cares. If they want to do it let them do it. Non-issue.

Thumper 9:04 am 06 Dec 07

“whereby all partnerships are civil unions under law and marriages are simply a matter for the church”

yeah, I’d go along with that. it keeps the sanctity of marriage whilst still ensuring equity for all.

GregW 8:47 am 06 Dec 07

How many years until people realise that politicians being openly religious is a bad thing, not many I expect.

I agree with the the above comment, whereby all partnerships are civil unions under law and marriages are simply a matter for the church..

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