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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Where to now for the same-sex marriage campaign?

The national day of protest on August 1, demanding the Rudd Labor government repeal the same-sex marriage ban, was a resounding success. Over 8,000 people took to the streets across Australia to mark the fifth anniversary of the homophobic ban and to voice – or more often shout – their outrage.

So where to now? What are the lessons from the campaign so far and what should the future direction be?

Turning mass sentiment into active participation

A Galaxy opinion poll released in June again confirms that the campaign has majority support, with 60 per cent of those polled supporting same-sex marriage rights, no ifs no buts.

This continues an upward trend, despite the fact that neither major political party supports such a move.

Among younger people support is even more overwhelming, with 74 per cent of 18-25 year olds and 71 per cent of 25-34 year olds supporting equal marriage rights.

The Melbourne rally attracted over 5,000 from across the state, the largest protest ever for same-sex marriage rights in Australia. The MCV newspaper noted that “a large proportion of the marchers were teenagers or in their twenties”.

It is no coincidence that Victoria’s Equal Love group had the most success nationally, in terms of numbers attending the rally and attracting new people. Its strategy was to prioritise turning mass public sentiment into active participation as the key means of placing pressure on Rudd.

Equal Love Victoria produced impressive YouTube videos pushing the importance of the rally, with clear messages cutting through Labor lies and confusion, and arguing that in order to place real pressure on the government we needed all supporters, gay or straight, to rally.

But importantly, this media work was backed up with activity on the ground, which saw thousands of posters go up and tens of thousands of leaflets and postcards handed out at a series of public events and speak-outs.

The whole campaign was aimed at involving and mobilising supporters to get along and build the Melbourne rally.

The lessons from the Victorian campaign are important.

It can often be the case in campaigns that there are disagreements about how to prioritise energy and resources; lobbying and “behind the scenes” work are often counterposed to building active support.

No major reforms have ever been granted without a sustained fight that mobilises large numbers of supporters on a regular basis.

The best lobby efforts, conducted in isolation from mass activity, can’t match the pressure placed on the establishment and on Labor when they see their constituents actively involved around an issue, disrupting business as usual and bringing more people into activity in the process.

The successful rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide in reality were built by a narrow range of people, from within and outside the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community.

It’s clear from August 1 that putting serious work into relating to our supporters can get results.

To place real pressure on Labor to lift their outrageous and very unpopular same-sex marriage ban, we need an ongoing campaign that mobilises our supporters, putting us in a much stronger position to force the government to back down.

All the rallies, including the one in Melbourne, could have been far larger if more community groups, including the various state-based lobby groups, had actually done their bit in mobilising and building the campaign.

Future directions

Buoyed by the success of August 1, the Equal Love campaign in Victoria has decided to continue activity for the rest of 2009 and to hold another mass rally in late November.

And given the Rudd government’s determination to maintain the homophobic ban on same-sex marriage (a position which was reaffirmed at the ALP national conference), it’s clear we need to keep the pressure up.

The issue of same-sex marriage rights is a question of basic civil rights but the government is hoping to be able to dismiss August 1 as a one-off event.

It’s a very positive sign that the campaign in Victoria has called another rally, but the rest of the country should follow this lead and have their own rallies as well.

Equal Love will be going all out to build the November rally and involve as many of our supporters as possible.

It’s important that the sense of collective strength and energy that everyone at the Melbourne rally felt is not seen as an isolated event, but as one that gives energy to the ongoing campaigning by our supporters that’s needed if we are going to win this battle.

Equal Love will also be trying to continue to fundraise and network with the LGBTI community, including much more networking and outreach with community groups across Victoria.

The campaign is hoping to organise a series of meetings between Equal Love and a range of groups and organisations about the importance of the campaign, the issues involved, questions their members have and what they can do to help.

Another area of work is to get more trade unions to support the campaign, and alert their members to the issues and events.

August 1 highlighted the strong sense of anger and injustice felt by many in society, regardless of their sexuality, that the same-sex marriage ban has come to represent.

To build on this success, now is the time for more groups to get on board and help build an ongoing struggle that involves as many people as possible.

Majority public opinion in support of same-sex marriage rights is no guarantee of success: the Rudd government has made it clear they will not be moved by passive sentiment alone.

We need an ongoing collective roar to force a backdown and have an important win against homophobia.

This article, by James Vigus, first appeared in this month’s Socialist Alternative. James is a long-term activist for LGBTI rights who is currently the National Queer Officer for the Council of Australian Post-Graduate Associations and a member of the Equal Love Committee in Victoria.

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Comments

Comment from Les Percy
Time September 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Same sex “marriage” is anti-evolutionary and if adopted by all would lead to the death of the species.