This has taken me quite a long time to write, due to its sensitive nature and due to many peoples very strong views for and against.
I’ve been following the campaign for marriage equality in Ireland with great interest. I have duel citizenship, as my father was born and raised in the Irish Republic. I’m staunchly pro equality. I have yet to hear any valid argument for No.
“Gay Marriage” isn’t going to damage the children some same sex couples have had, currently have, or will have in the future, whether by giving birth to, having via surrogate, adoption, fostering or even by mentoring. If the couple parenting the child loves them, as most parents love their children, then what the hell is wrong with that? There’s millions of children around the world being raised in “non-traditional” homes. Single parents, through marriage or relationship breakdown. Where one parent has died. Where both parents have moved on and have new partners. Whether a kid grows up to be a decent person has absolutely nothing to do with their parents sexuality, and everything to do with whether their parent or parents are good people, or not.
Back to the Irish referendum. I can’t think of anything more special than witnessing a loving couple celebrate their love for one another by declaring it before their friends and family. and being able to make that public declaration complete with legal rights et cetera.
My Irish Aunty told me several years ago that she believed, through her own observations, and from conversations with another of her aunts, that her Aunty Terry was gay. Born in the early 1920’s Ireland, it’s hard to imagine how difficult that must have been for Terry. I struggle to get my head around how it must have been for her. As I understand it, she never spoke directly to any of her family about it. In my father and aunts generation, it would have been impossible to come out and live their life without fear or restriction. Even into my own generation, I think it’s been very difficult for LGBTI Irish folks. Stephen Gately hid his sexuality, because he feared the backlash and hate. For a lot of years, and even after his death, it was obviously causing heartache for those closest to him, for various terribly sad reasons.
In Australia, we seem no closer to reaching marriage equality. When even my father, a self confessed homophobe, can say “why not, who’s it hurting?” (Seriously, genuine case of could have knocked me down with a feather moment), then I think most reasonable people should be able to see that marriage equality will hurt precisely no one, and will in fact give tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Australians something the straight populace often take for granted.
For all those “marriage is between a man and a woman” folks, how good a job have straight folks done at marriage? Hmm. What’s the divorce rate in most western countries? Around 50%, or higher in certain age brackets or demographics. Between a man and woman? Or women, plural, in those ultra conservative religions where polygamy is the norm? Yeah, straight people have done a bang up job at marriage. Shit happens. It’s not restricted to gay or straight couples. People mess up. People grow apart. Sometimes the couple should never have married in the first place but did due to family pressures, or for the wrong reasons. Religion, “because it’s time”, because everyone else is, not the right reasons. There’s only one reason to get married in my book. And that’s a really simple one. If neither of you can imagine life without that person, and you both want to make that public declaration, then that’s the reason.
Polling suggests that a majority of Australians are in favour of marriage equality. I see it as my generations chance to do what happened in my Mums generation, when interracial marriage was legalised. That really made the sky fall, didn’t it? Oh wait! NO, it didn’t!!!
Someone I know recently posted on their Facebook a snippet of a conversation he’d overheard his neighbours having. He-neighbour informed she-neighbour “There’s GAYS next door!” Seriously. In 2015. This guy and his partner are just one of tens of thousands of examples of gay couples who are just like tens of thousands of straight couples. Who has what bits and bobs is thoroughly irrelevant. They love each other. It’s that simple. Apparently not to the fuckwits they live next door to, but it’s a pretty simple equation to me. Who the hell do these bigots who will so shamelessly declare “there’s GAYS next door!” think they are? Really. Days after reading M’s post, I’m still wondering what the fuck it mattered to their neighbours. One of my neighbours is gay. How does that affect me? Umm. It doesn’t. It makes no difference whatsoever to me. Nor to any of the other neighbours.
So why is marriage equality so important? Well, in part, it’s about spousal protection. About making decisions for each other without having what could be a disapproving family butting in and pushing out the partner should one become gravely ill. It’s about property and keeping legal challenges to that to a minimum, again by family. It’s about having their children say my Dads/Mums are married just like yours. There’s umpteen reasons. And, it’s about the couple being able to wave that piece of paper around excitedly the same way so many straight couples have over the years.
Marriage was not originally a religious institution. It was about property. It’s why women had to have a dowry. Basically paying the groom/grooms family to take her on. Usually with no say from the bride. There’s plenty of places in the world where a dowry is still demanded.
Politicians need to to stop putting their own “moral judgments” on this issue, and start listening to their electorates. They are employed by us, the voters. Their job in parliament is to do the things best for their electorate, not for their own personal moral feelings. I use the word moral to show its uselessness in this issue. The only “moral” thing we should be worried about is, basically, do no harm. Way too many people don’t view morals in this simple way. But that’s really what it boils down to. Marriage equality does no harm to anyone, so really shouldn’t be a “moral” issue to anyone.
I hope, one day in the near future, I can stand (or sit as is more practical in my personal situation), and watch some of my gay friends stand up and legally pledge themselves to each other. I hope I can dance the night away with them in celebration!
Come on Australia! It’s time!