"We are moving forward to a country where every American is treated with dignity and respect, and here in Washington, you'll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly."Notice Obama's use of the term "moving forward". Julia Gillard used the term a ridiculous number of times when Labor managed to do a deal to form government a couple of years ago. Her usage did not extend to sexual equality.
Gillard has often fallen back on quoting the fact that the Marriage Act defines marriage as "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." There are obvious issues with her position. It's not one made from conviction. It's based on a presumption that it's the law, therefore she can't change it. Clearly, changing the law is her job description. She also ignores the part of the definition that while marriage is voluntarily entered into, as often as not, it is not for life. It's clearly just a crutch that sounds legitimate on the surface.
So here's why Gillard probably supports gay marriage: She's an educated, intelligent Atheist.
You find me any other educated, intelligent Atheist, who is not in politics, and I guarantee that they either support the rights of gay people to marry, or they would prefer that the government was not responsible for sanctioning the marriages of anyone, independent of sexual orientation, i.e. civil unions for all. Either way, there will be a consistent message that the same laws should apply to everyone, independent of anything else.
So, here's why, despite her probable, personal support for gay marriage, she won't support it publicly: She's an educated, intelligent Atheist, who is politically cynical and weak.
She is smart enough to know that with the Christian voters, or at least lobby groups, her Atheism is already a big black mark across her name. That's why Gillard challenged Tony Abbott to a "scripture-off". If she is to retain the support of evangelicals, then she has to be the most palatable Atheist that she can be. That means talking up both her Catholic schooling, and her values being Christian values.
Now, if she had just blown that all away, grown a pair,1 and come out of the closet in her support for gay marriage, she'd probably have found that a vast segment of the population would have admired her enough to counteract any negative effects of being courageous.
Though now, it might be too late. With Obama2 having already stated his support, it is hardly a show of trail-blazing courage to follow one of the most powerful people in the world. There could actually be a cynical backlash against jumping on the bandwagon. People would still appreciate the support, but she might not get the bump. Instead it will be left to better people than her, not that far into the future, to make the leap.
1 Meant in a metaphorical sense, rather than a misogynistic one. There are plenty of men in politics who need to grow a pair.
2 Nothing in this post is meant to be interpreted as support for Obama. He's destroying the U.S.'s great history of promoting civil liberties, and is more contemptible than even George W. Bush, as Obama was a constitutional law professor, so he actually knows what he's doing.