Soused on a soft red from the Bellarine Peninsula is not the optimal state from which to view and understand news. Particularly if you intend to publicly press such into the service of your own agenda later on. However, and as you hardly need reminding, pinot noir is a crucial tonic on a Sunday night. So, it was through this fragile, thin-skinned filter that I thought I saw the world change.

“Honey,” I said to Honey. “Looks like we can get married.”

Now, if she’s told me once, she’s told me a thousand times both (a) marriage is a heteros-xist institution that honours God, the Phallus and other bloated fictions and (b) buggered if she, or anyone else for that matter, would be able to tolerate my performance upon purchase of a white organza frock. Of course, she makes a very convincing case and, unless I’ve had pinot, I normally agree.

There's more to Crikey than you think.

Get more Crikey for just $199 $99.

Subscribe now

As I recall it, the news story in question was on Sky. I swear I heard something like “the Rudd government is moving to ratify same-s-x civil unions” and then, to my wobbly wonder, “the Coalition will offer support for this change in an effort to distance itself from the sententious Howard era.”

Silly me. They would never use a word like “sententious” on Sky.

The next morning, I called my mate from an eminent Gay and L-sbian activist organisation. I asked him if he’d heard that the world had changed. He replied no. And added that he’d been at an Elton John concert. Naturally, I laughed derisively.

Further reading and numerous haphazard phone calls to parliament house and the Victorian Gay and L-sbian Rights Lobby set me straight(ish). These claims had been broadcast. However, it seems they were the suggestion of Professor Kerryn Phelps.

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, Prof Phelps had received a pre-election commitment from several folks now appointed as senior ministers in government. Same s-x civil union was promised to Phelps along with an end to legislation that has been recognised as discriminatory by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. My activist mates tell me it’s likely that the latter will likely occur. But not the former.

“Rudd has said all along Labor policy is not for gay marriage,” said Phelps.

And she’s right. In fact, the entire ALP rolled over back in 2004 when Howard amended the Marriage Act to safeguard it against the scourge of grubby poofterism and included the stipulation that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Nonetheless, according to Phelps, change is stirring.

“It’s a hopeful proposition. Naturally, I’d love it to be true,” says Stephen Jones, co-convener of the Victorian Gay and L-sbian Rights Lobby.

Jones, however, who spent weeks this year in Canberra campaigning for the passing of the HREOC recommendations, has heard nothing about a change in civil union sentiment from the ALP.

Perhaps the purported champions of individual liberty will step up to the same s-x plate. On its website, Sky reported, “The new look Coalition shadow ministry has publicly backed the removal of discriminatory legislation which is seen as a departure from the Howard years.”

Perhaps they will change their platform, muses Jones. “The Coalition are desperate for anyone to like them. “

A call to Phelps was answered by Jackie Stricker who informed that no comment would be given. An email to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary was answered by a transcript of Rudd’s comments about the National Relationship Register on Sunday. A call to Brendan Nelson’s office was greeted with a comment approximating, “You might have heard. There was an election three weeks ago. We haven’t got any policy yet.”

My friend the Elton fan opines that Phelps was simply sh-t stirring. Naturally, those of us who seek to spend less time with our solicitors hope her claims were based on something more than hope.

There's more to Crikey than you think.

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

And now you get more from your membership than ever before.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
Get more and save 50%