Why this photo of two politicians from opposite sides hugging says so much about Australia's same-sex marriage debate

Business Insider | 12/7/2017 | Simon Thomsen
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Australia overwhelmingly voted to legalise same-sex marriage on Thursday.

MPs from both sides celebrated the feat together in a rare show of unity.

Photo - Labor - MP - Linda - Burney

This photo taken of Labor MP Linda Burney hugging Liberal MP Warren Entsch captured a moment of humanity in politics.

After years of public debate, a $122 million voluntary postal survey that delivered an overwhelming yes, and a private member’s bill from gay Liberal senator Dean Smith that managed to survive multiple attempts to amend it unchanged, Australia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage today.

People - Moment - Achievement - Sense - Righteousness

And people celebrated that historic moment. The achievement. The sense of righteousness in the decision. The floor of the parliament and gallery erupted in cheers and applause before the gallery managed to serenade the politicians with a very unparliamentary rendition of “I am Australian” without censure from the speaker.

And amid the tears of joy, the backslapping, the rare show of unity between Labor and Liberal MPs who shook hands and embraced, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten, there was the moment Labor’s Linda Burney leapt into the arms of Liberal Warren Entsch.

Humanity - Politics - Pantomime - Conflict - Debate

It captures a humanity in politics that’s rarely seen in the pantomime of partisan conflict, but says so much about this debate.

Entsch is you typical knockabout Queensland bloke. He spent a decade in the RAAF, working as a fitter and welder, then as a croc farmer and grazier before turning to politics. He’s a 21-year veteran of Canberra who, for more than a decade, swam against the tide of his party, campaigning in support of same-sex marriage as far back as 2004. He was dubbed a “progressive redneck” and in 2006, first tried to introduce a private member’s bill to parliament...
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