With news today that the High Court of Australia has overturned the ACT’s marriage equality laws, Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby says that we should now ‘move on.’ He keeps saying it. It’s his line. He said it again on the news tonight: ‘It’s time to move on!’
In Shelton’s logic, with ‘nine parliamentary attempts’ (and 30+ weddings) behind us, any further agitation is stirring a pot that should no longer be stirred. To proponents of marriage equality, his advice is clear: take off your aprons and put down your wooden spoons. The stew is cooked.
To be blunt, it’s a silly thing to say. More than that, it’s insulting. Whatever we judge to be the rights or wrongs of a particular issue, suggesting that citizens of this country who feel passionately about that issue should just give up and give over after a few rounds in the political arena is extraordinary. Sadly, it betrays just how little Shelton and his lobby group understand what motivates those who fight for this issue or how deeply it touches their lives.
For me and others, this is an issue of justice. It speaks to the most fundamental values of cultural belonging and inclusion. I stand publicly for marriage equality because it flows directly from my commitment to the integrity of human relationships and to the sacred connections between love and fidelity. Agree with me or don’t, but surely you can’t wish me to just ‘move on.’
Imagine for a moment the issues that would never have been brought to resolution if courageous people just gave up and moved on. In his fight to end the slave trade, Wilberforce took his bills before the British parliament more than twenty times over as many years before he found success. The story is similar with women’s suffrage, Indigenous land rights, the end to the death penalty and so much more.
It seems especially odd to me that a lobby group like the ACL should propose a ‘move on’ approach to social issues. Their continuing agitation around the legalities of abortion, for example, is surely testament to their resolve to remain actively engaged even when the movement of legislation is against them.
Truthfully, I don’t care much for the ACL and what it stands for, but I am glad it’s there. As a political voice, it operates out of conviction and represents the views of its constituency (however large or small) with energy and resolve. I would only hope that Shelton and others will acknowledge those who support marriage equality as more than a marginal nuisance group that can simply ‘move on’, as though its concerns are of no lasting consequence.