Mark Latham has slammed the ALP's culture of identity politics, including its romance with same-sex marriage. Writing for Fairfax's Financial Review, the former Labor leader advances the view that his party is out of touch with mainstream voters.
"The tragedy of modern Labor is that it no longer talks about poverty," argues Latham. "It's too busy fussing about gay marriage, defending the rights of heroin traffickers and facilitating asylum-seeker drownings to tackle the problems of public housing estates (such as Mount Druitt on SBS's Struggle Street)."
Young political hopefuls, he proffers, also need to "stop knocking around with privileged feminists and other identity-urgers and recapture the true meaning of social justice."
Same-sex marriage, to be sure, remains an ice-cream headache for the ALP. In the recent past, Bill Shorten rebuked Tanya Plibersek's plans to ban a conscience vote for Laborties while demanding one for Liberals.
Former Labor PM and atheist Julia Gillard, by way of contrast, opposed same-sex marriage on traditional feminist grounds.
And who could forget former PM Kevin Rudd's remarkable flip-flops? The alternative Christian was ridiculed for his unorthodox conversion to "marriage equality" against the teachings of mainstream Christianity. Moreover, media predictions that KRudd's decision would win Labor thousands of youth voters were more about wishful thinking.
Even same-sex marriage fans have sarcastically aired their disapproval of Labor's processes and priorities. News Corp's Chris Kenny, puts it this way: "As they say, if you look after the tampon tax and gay marriage, the budget deficit and national security will look after themselves."
More importantly, though, typical voters don't rate "gay marriage" as a priority. In weighed data collected by the ABC, for instance, 250,000 respondents were focused on issues such as the economy, so-called asylum seekers and health/hospitals etc.
Another problem for Labor: Thoughtful progressive and conservative critics alike are questioning the party's marriage logic. How can Labor be for "marriage equality" when it seeks to privilege two-person unions? If love-feelings alone make a marriage, then why are polygamous folks forced to sit at the back of the bus? And who buys Shorten's view that Australia is a rogue nation for upholding traditional marriage? After all, only 8.5% of UN countries have redefined marriage, not 91.5%.
Also significant: Twelve national and international tribunals in eleven countries have explicitly upheld male-female marriage as consistent with human rights.
Revealingly, gay unions are more likely to dissolve, according to solid science. So is Shorten selling false hopes to homosexuals while dismissing children's rights? Indeed, same-sex unions are breaking up at such a rapid rate in some places that they're already beating dysfunctional Scandinavian heterosexuals. In Norway, male-gay marriages are 50 % more likely to end in divorce than straight marriages. That figure jumps to 167% for lesbian marriages!
A case of good intentions gone wrong or narcissistic adults-first libertarianism? The fact that Shorten isn't prepared to even acknowledge same-sex breakup rates is telling.
Of course, prominent gays and feminists, from Dolce and Gabbana to Germaine Greer have come out against "marriage equality" spin, whereas Latham's stand highlights the fact that within the ALP, same-sex marriage is still a contentious issue.
As Latham told 3AW Drive, Laborites have lost their moral compass. They're not focused on key social justice issues. "They're obsessed, instead, by gay marriage." Indeed. "It's a legal document. It's a piece of symbolism. It might make some people feel better to have a marriage document but it really is a low order priority," Latham says. "On the Richter scale of social justice Struggle Street is a 10, gay marriage is a point one."
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