To use what might be considered an unfortunate expression, I have no dog in this fight. I'm a straight woman in her late 50s with no interest in marriage. (Been there, done that, threw up on the t-shirt.)
I think the people who say the ALP's national conference is being hijacked by the 'unimportant' issue of gay marriage aren't thinking hard enough about what importance is, or indeed about what politics is. To my mind this goes to two absolutely fundamental issues in politics: the quality of ordinary people's daily lives, and the question of who has power over whom, and to what end.
So the idea that it has anything whatever to do with Person A's 'conscience' when Person B and Person C decide that they would like to formally and legally celebrate their commitment to each other in the manner in which such commitment is most usually celebrated in our society is really just a case of a power struggle being dressed up to look like something nicer.
For whatever sense does it make, really, that Person A should wrestle with his or her own better angels about something that Persons B and C might want to do? No sense, that's what. Person A, if she or he genuinely believes this to be a matter of his or her own conscience, needs a bit of a lesson in how to recognise his or her own beeswax. And everyone knows that the Prime Minister's taking of the 'conscience vote' road is a totally cynical move in any case. And I can't be alone in finding something particularly rank and icky about dressing up a bit of pragmatic and strategic political gamesmanship as an issue of individual conscience.
Still Life With Cat is an all-purpose blog containing reflections on whatever is going on in the realms of literature, politics, media, music, dinner, gardening etc. Its original incarnation is Pavlov's Cat (2005-2008).
Read, Think, Write is about all things books and writing, and incorporates Australian Literature Diary (2005-2010) and Ask the Brontë Sisters (May-July 2007).
Blogs are by Kerryn Goldsworthy, a writer, critic and editor who lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia.