What’s next?

Fans of the West Wing and the really great West Wing Weekly podcast will recognise the title — it’s the question Pres Bartlet asks when he’s done with a topic and wants to move on. I’m guessing that’s how queer people are feeling about the postal survey on marriage for consenting adults regardless of gender.

1/ Prepare for the results announcement

ACON has done a really great job of producing resources encouraging self-care and help-seeking among people doing it tough during the debate. The latest one encourages queer people to make a decision ahead of time about where you’ll be on results day, and who you’ll be with. You might want to be at one of the public events planned; equally valid, you might want solitude — you know yourself best. Be prepared for some unexpected emotions, even if the result is what we’re all hoping for.

2/ Prepare for some shitty hot-takes

Mark Kenny at The Age has jumped the gun on this one, with this frankly confused opinion piece, even as he was writing another piece about how conservatives are already planning to delay marriage equality even further.

Screenshot 2017-11-11 11.46.02

3/ Prepare for ‘disaggregated’ results

The headline result will be an aggregate — a single number that sums up all the votes. I am expecting a majority ‘Yes’ vote, but then, I was wrong about Trump and Brexit. Most opinion polls only survey about 1,500 people, and then use a mathematical model to project (guess) how the whole of Australia will vote. So we could get a surprise.

But one thing that’s guaranteed: conservative MPs will demand the results for their own electorates, in addition to the national figure. This ‘disaggregates’ (splits apart) the result by electorate. They want this so they can say, ‘well, my electorate voted No, so I can’t support the marriage equality bill,’ regardless of what party leaders commit to.

4/ Prepare for last minute objections

Conservatives are already preparing to demand ‘religious freedoms’ on top of the extensive exemptions religious bodies already have. Waleed Aly has a terrific analysis of the problem with this stance: if the Yes votes gets up, it means these demands have been tested in a public vote and failed. So it’s illegitimate to say the marriage legislation must accede to these demands. However, we can also view these demands as yet another delaying tactic — and viewed as such, they are likely to succeed.

Conclusion

Whatever the result next Wednesday, there is a way still to go — this is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to take this opportunity to take a breath, engage our rituals and practices for self-care, touch base with each other, take time to ourselves. One day this will pass.

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