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NOM Distorts Australian Election Results As Referendum On Marriage Equality

September 10, 2013 5:29 pm ET by Luke Brinker

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) hailed the victory of incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Liberal Party in Australia's September 7 elections, claiming the results signaled a solid rebuke of defeated Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's staunch support for marriage equality, failing to note that a majority of Australians back marriage equality.

In a September 9 blog post titled "Australia Votes to Reject Rudd and His Promise of Same-Sex Marriage," NOM concluded that because Abbott, who opposes marriage equality, had won, voters were obviously sending a message about same-sex marriage:

Same-sex marriage has proven to be anything but a vote winner in elections not just across [the] U.S., but internationally as well. Australia's opposition crushed the governing Labor party in yesterday's elections and the people voted Tony Abbott into office, who has made clear that he supports marriage between one man and one woman, over the incumbent SSM-pushing prime minister Kevin Rudd.

But as the BBC reported, the key issues in the election were the economy, the governing Labor Party's controversial carbon tax, and how to deal with the country's large number of asylum seekers. With a poll released days before the election indicating that 65 percent of Australians support marriage equality, it's clear that Rudd lost despite, not because of, his pro-equality stance. Other polls also show that about two-thirds of Australians back marriage equality.

NOM has a penchant for claiming dubious anti-equality "victories." In July, NOM President Brian Brown insisted that all the public opinion polls in the U.S. showing most American support marriage equality are wrong and that anti-equality forces are actually winning.

Since the passage of marriage equality in New York, for example, Brown has repeatedly tried to spin even minor electoral victories as proof of the public's opposition to marriage equality. Brown seized on last November's defeat of Republican New York state Sen. Stephen Saland as "good news" for his organization. Saland was one of a handful of Republicans who helped pass marriage equality in New York in 2011, and NOM had targeted him for defeat. What Brown forgot to mention was that in a three-way race between Saland, a pro-equality Democrat, and a Conservative Party candidate, the pro-equality Democrat ultimately won.

While the Australian election results dealt a blow to hopes for marriage equality legislation in the near-term, NOM's triumphant analysis fits a pattern of finding anti-equality popular mandates where none exist.


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