American LGBT activist criticises Australian gay marriage vote

family law

A prominent American LGBT rights activist has criticised Australia’s proposed referendum on gay marriage.

James Obergefell’s name became synonymous with the gay marriage push in the United States after the country’s Supreme Court ruled in its favour in Obergefell v. Hodges last year. Following the decision, he co-wrote a book entitled Love Wins in which he recounted his experience battling for marriage rights in the United States.

Next week, Obergefell will visit Australia to promote Love Wins. He will be in the country at the height of an ongoing debate on the possibility of gay marriage legalisation. While the current coalition government has promised a national vote on the issue, the opposition has resisted such efforts. Those who are against the referendum have insisted that it is the job of Parliament to implement this change in the law and that minority rights should not be put to a public vote.

Obergefell will add his voice to the growing calls for a Parliamentary vote on gay marriage, “instead of going to the expense and delay of a public vote”.

Although he will be talking about his book when he visits Australia, he also wants to push for marriage equality. His central talking point will be “why Australians deserve the right to marry the person they love, and to live a life of equality and fairness” he said in an interview this week.

The debate about whether the matter should be settled by the public reminded Obergefell of the problems he encountered in his home state of Ohio, which voted to ban same sex marriage in 2004. Whenever the subject came up after that, “the argument always came back to [the vote]” he explained. Opponents of marriage equality would say “if the people voted for [the ban] this is what is right, and this is constitutional and this is what the state will defend”.

Photo by karendesuyo via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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