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Left fights left in 'gay marriage' wars

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Thursday, 2 December 2010

Influential union leader Joe De [sic] Bruyn has slammed Labor for ‘pandering’ to the Greens on gay marriage and says supporting a law change will not yield more votes for the party,” reports the ABC.

The head of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, who sits on Labor's national executive was also quoted as saying, "There are no votes for Labor in the marginal electorates in the big metropolitan areas on the gay marriage issue" and we “all know that marriage is between a man and a woman not just because that is what the definition of the Marriage Act says but simply because this has been the way that it has been in the existence of the human race."

Of course, the fights within and between the ALP’s factions from Labor Unity (on the so-called right) to the Socialist Left, are comically absurd, but they highlight splits across our “progressive” landscape. 


European tensions

Australia is not alone. This month Homo Exoticus: Race, classe et critique queer, a French academic publication, has attracted the attention of the European media. The book, according to a University of Bristol press release, “highlights institutionalisation of mainstream gay culture in France through an extended critique of the liberal equal rights agenda” and “focuses predominantly on the issue of gay marriage.” It even explores “eurocentrism” in queer culture, just to spice things up.

Still, our media is politically attached to the idea of evil Christians bashing gays, and burning down their wedding hopes. The campaigning journalist or stereotypical opinion columnist (read parrot), likes to view him or herself as a brave voice against dark forces. Few Australian newspapers can deal with say a French text that “questions the progressive nature” of same-sex marriages, or the fact that Obama opposes them too. They’re only ready for “good gay” vs. “bad Christian” narratives, not real debates.

American fallout

Another sign of tensions within “progressive circles” is also on parade in the United States. Like the French publication, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage, is creating waves. Or as queer editor Ryan Conrad states, “I’m so tired of the working class being totally invisible and having their voice shut out.”

The queer activist who spoke to a campus audience in Swarthmore, Phoenix, last month, stated that he is “tired of the gay marriage rhetoric of inclusion because it doesn’t work and it doesn’t add up for poor people” – a position that sounds more Joe de Bruyn than Ellen DeGeneres. 


And Conrad has questioned what he describes as “a sort of monolithic voice from mainstream gay and lesbian organizations when there are actually these critical and contending voices.” 

The progressive left is eating the progressive left. Or as one thought-provoking advert read in one of America’s oldest universities:

Think you understand the Gay Marriage debate? Come hear a different perspective! Against Equality's Marriage=Death Tour is coming to Georgetown University!! Conrad, the founder of Against Equality will be here to discuss its latest publication: Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage.

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This article was first published on Quadrant Online on November 24, 2010

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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