After about 20 failed bills over 13 years – and the rejection of a plebiscite by Labor, the Greens and Senate crossbenchers – political fatigue has set in on same-sex marriage.
At the same time, the increasing intolerance of the same-sex marriage lobby towards those who support natural marriage is proving counterproductive to their campaign.
Recent rainbow alliance attacks on Coopers Brewery and IBM Australia managing partner Mark Allaby have highlighted the intolerance of the same-sex marriage lobby.
They threatened Coopers Brewery with boycotts and demanded substantial donations to rainbow groups after Coopers beer featured in a debate between same-sex marriage advocate Tim Wilson and his Liberal Party colleague Andrew Hastie, who supports natural marriage. Coopers Brewery caved in to the demands, publicly apologised, voiced their support for same-sex marriage, and disassociated themselves from the Bible Society after Coopers produced “Happy 200th Birthday Bible Society” commemoration bottles.
Corporate Australia also leaned heavily on the Government to change its policy and have a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage. Australian Marriage Equality spearheaded a campaign to enlist as many companies, councils, community organisations and sporting clubs as possible to their cause in order to pressure the Government into abandoning its commitment to a plebiscite and force a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage.
Corporate signatories to an open letter to the Government included three of the big four banks, the National Rugby League, Basketball Australia, Football Federation Australia, all the big four accounting firms, the country’s biggest public offer superannuation fund, Australian Super, its second-biggest energy retailer, AGL, broadcaster SBS, Optus and Telstra, the biggest airline, Qantas, and the biggest employer, Wesfarmers. In all, 34 chief executives signed the letter.
The response was a scathing attack on the companies from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton with support for his position from Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt and Resources Minister Matt Canavan.
A subsequent campaign by the corporates involved selling 250,000 rings with the words, “until we all belong”. The rings signalled the “gap” same-sex and heterosexual couples. The words will appear on Qantas boarding passes and other paraphernalia.
The campaign led by Airbnb is worth in excess of $5 million and drew a heated response from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, who pointed out that the 5,000 Qantas and 200 ANZ staff who lost their jobs would be aghast that millions was now being spent on this campaign.
Airbnb Australia country manager Sam McDonagh said that Qantas staff and cabin crew and Google Australia staff would wear the rings. This prompts the question: will staff who refuse to wear the rings be singled out for disciplinary action, or at least be maligned by some fellow staff?
Rainbow activists have also targeted Mr Allaby, a managing partner of IBM Australia who was also on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internment program for young Christians.
They demanded he resign over an alleged conflict of interest between his job with IBM, which supports same-sex marriage, and the institute, which they labelled as an “an anti-LGBTI organisation” because it supported natural marriage.
Under intense pressure, Mr Allaby stood down from his position on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute. Last year, while working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was pressured to stand down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby.
As a result of these aggressive tactics, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute and the Australian Christian Lobby have been granted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission permission to keep their board members off the public record because publication “could endanger public safety”.
Rainbow alliance intolerance was earlier demonstrated with the attempted prosecution of Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal because he distributed a pamphlet supporting traditional marriage. The case was later dropped for what appear to be tactical reasons.
The rainbow alliance’s campaign to change the Government’s policy into supporting a parliamentary vote comes on the back of polling on both sides of the debate that show a large section of Australians are effectively undecided and could well vote “no” in the event of a plebiscite.
Just as intolerance has seen the prosecution of bakers, florists or photographers or church-run venues in Canada, Northern Ireland and the United States, where same-sex marriage has been legalised, the rainbow same-sex marriage lobby is now demonstrating its intolerance in Australia.
In the absence of a people’s vote the Government is right to turn its attention to the pressing issues that concern most Australians – housing affordability, unemployment and underemployment, rising cost of living pressures, affordable and reliable electricity, foreign ownership and farmers going to the wall.
 Damian Wyld, “Coopers held ‘captive’ – here is what’s going on”, Marriage Alliance, March 18, 2017.
 Joshua Robertson, “A PR stunt mixing beer, politics, gay rights and religion: what could possibly go wrong?”, The Guardian, March 17, 2017.
 “Corporate same-sex marriage campaign months in the making”, The Australian, March 28, 2017.’
 Michael Koziol, “ ‘Fed up’: Eric Abetz slams big business over latest same-sex marriage push”, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 3, 2017.
 Rebecca Urban, “Firms ring in campaign for marriage equality”, The Australian, April 4, 2017.
 Dennis Shanahan, “Safety fears at Christian charities”, The Australian, March 28, 2017.