The Age today (sorry, not online) carried a headline “Baillieu Warms to Gay Marriage Bill, Brumby passes”. Can you imagine how the calls and emails came in! So, we checked the facts. The Liberal Party has NOT changed its position on gay marriage, which is really a Federal matter anyway. Ted Baillieu has on a number of occasions stated he does not support a change in the current law which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Interestingly you may have also heard him state just last week that neither he nor the party supports adoption by same-sex couples either.
So how did we get that headline? Amongst a range of questions on a number of varied topics, Mr Baillieu was asked if he supported a conscience vote on gay marriage. (The Greens and a small number of Federal ALP MP’s have called for such, remember this is a Federal issue.) The reply was “Such matters have always been a matter of conscience for our party”. Indeed this is true, a Liberal MP has the right to “cross the floor” on issues where he/she has a strong conscientious objection on a particular matter even if it is Liberal policy. Such a move might well incur the displeasure of the Party, but such is life, conviction sometimes comes at a cost.
So there we have it, “warming to gay marriage”? No not really, as it was put to ACL today, “We would be hard pressed to find anyone in the party room who would support such a move”. Both Federally and at a State level, the leaders of both major parties have committed to preserving marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The lesson? Headlines only tell part of the story.