Same sex marriage is not a thing in Australia, well, not yet and a Diet of Worms could make it happen, or at least have some influence.

No, really, a Diet of Worms could give us same sex marriage in Australia.  I don't mean that you eat all those things in your compost bin (because you do have a compost bin, don't you?); the Diet of Worms was a council set up in 1520's in Worms, Germany.

Let's set the scene here.  

Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor was in a spot of trouble.  If you know your history, you'll know that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Roman, nor holy or really an empire, one thing it was though was Catholic.  

Charles V was desperately trying to enforce his authority over his empire which while not really being an empire lay claim to a sizeable majority of old European powers and their colonies, from Argentina to Amsterdam.

Not only was he unable to do things like communicate vast distances and collect taxes, he wasn't able to stop religious based dissent from bubbling up.  Martin Luther, a proponent of what would become Protestantism had started to see through the Catholic Church's smoke and mirrors and denounced it as being corrupt and too invested in its own riches- which it is, I mean, it was.

This kind of Lutheran behaviour is really annoying for an emperor, particularly one that was struggling to enforce his authority on half of the known world. 

The Diet of Worms was a tribunal set up by the Holy Roman Empire to quell dissent.  There were several diets but the most famous one occurred in 1521 in which the Diet of Worms denounced Martin Luther and those that followed him as a heretic and against Mother Church, which in all fairness, he was.

Luther was bound by the Edict of Worms of 1521 to stop his heretical preaching, but Martin Luther took the view that on matters of faith he would not do what the Emperor Charles V or the Pope mandated, but rather what his conscience allowed. 

Welcome to the conscience vote.

In the Australian Parliament we have two major political parties, the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/ National Coalition.  They usually vote on all bills before the parliament as a bloc, that is that the whole party is instructed to vote one way or the other.

In the Labor Party you are expected to vote as a bloc otherwise you will be expelled and in the Liberal/ National Party you may never make it as a minister. Unless, it's a matter of conscience.

The respective parties can make issues a matter of conscience, that is that each and every member is supposed to vote as her or his conscience dictates.  These sorts of matters of conscience are usually for things that are 'life or death'.  Abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and so on.  Currently, same sex marriage is one of those issues, which is frankly a bit silly but here we are.

Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party has called on the party to vote as a bloc and abandon the idea that they must vote based on conscience when this issue is inevitably discussed in the parliament once more.  Currently the Liberal/Nationals vote as a bloc, and that is, against any amendment to the Marriage Act.

If the Labor Party voted as a bloc and the Liberal Nationals were allowed to vote based on their conscience then same sex marriage stands a real shot at becoming law in this country.  Even better, it would be great if the Liberal Nationals voted as a bloc to amend the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage and have the laws passed in Australia once and for all.  The Liberal National Coalition, being more to the political right than even most of its supporters is unlikely to take this progressive stance any time soon.

If the Liberal Nationals took a view that wasn't dissimilar to the one that Martin Luther took during the Diet of Worms; that making a decision based on your conscience instead of an imperial edict then same sex marriage would have a real chance in Australia.

And it wouldn't involve anyone eating worms.

 

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