Coinciding with the first anniversary of the survey announcement in November 2017, this symposium engages with the legacy of the Australian, as well as international, campaigns for marriage equality. It will dive into debates about the value of marriage equality, the nature of marriage equality campaigns, and the value, or not, of public votes on rights-based issues. This symposium focuses on two overlapping streams: Marriage Campaigns and Marriage Debates.
Queer and feminist debates regarding marriage, and marriage equality in particular persist. Some continue to argue that the rights provided by marriage equality fail to satisfy as citizenship rights invariably rely on the exclusion of those who do not or cannot fit. Twelve months after the event, has people’s thinking shifted? Might legislating for marriage equality incite new forms of resistance to marriage? As Annamarie Jagose argues “important questions of social justice, equity and social belonging cannot get worked out across such an absurdly constrained and increasingly irrelevant category as marriage”. However, for many the passage of marriage equality has major symbolic significance because of its capacity to authorize diverse relationships and kinship affiliations. Marriage equality also has the potential to inspire creative new forms of marriage and associated rituals and arrangements.
Day one begins with Simon Copland in conversation with Tiernan Brady. Brady led the “Yes Equality” campaign in Ireland and was the Executive Director of the Equality Campaign in Australia. The Q and A is followed by an invited panel bringing together Quinn Eades, Neha Madhok and Gemma Killen – three researchers/activists who have have made significant contributions to campaigns and debates about marriage equality in Australia. This panel will explore their reflections on the campaign, specifically considering how their thinking/feeling about marriage may have changed in the year since the vote.
The Happy Anniversary event will also have a strong focus on legal and political issues associated with marriage equality campaigns. Our international Keynote Speakers are Rosemary Auchmuty and David Paternotte. Auchmuty is a feminist legal scholar with a strong interest in gender and sexuality. Paternotte researches same sex marriage campaigns in diverse international contexts as well as taking an interest in movements opposed to gender, feminism and LGBTQI rights. Invited speakers also include Carol Johnson, whose research interests include gender and sexuality in Australian politics and Anja Hilkemeijer, a legal scholar who considers how debates about religious and sexual freedom intersect with human rights discourses.
Despite the success of the yes campaign in Australia, the Marriage Equality Postal Survey remains a site of contention within LGBTIQ circles. Some argue that the survey unleashed a “barrage of bigotry” against LGBTIQ people, resulting in more harm than good, while others contend that the vote represented an opportunity to engage with the broader community on an LGBTIQ issue. We invite papers that interrogate the process of campaigning, as well as critiques and debates of marriage as an institution, and marriage equality as an issue for LGBTIQ communities. We welcome comparison regarding the different strategies used to pass marriage equality across the world. We also invite papers that interrogate votes, such as those in Australia and Ireland, and about the decision to settle rights-based questions using direct democracy and the resulting consequences for people within and outside targeted minorities.