Before we get started:
Having a hard time? SBS posted a helpful article for struggling members of the LGBT+ community.
Hate the plebiscite? Here’s something you can do.
Now – let me establish where I’m coming from.
Marriage is a personal choice made by a couple about whether they want to make a lifelong commitment under the eyes of the law. It exclusively concerns the two people involved, and like their junk, it is their private business and their private business alone.
Let’s be clear – legislating is the government’s job. A free vote, one which would cost no money, save everyone a shitload of work would pass both houses. Having a postal plebiscite on whether gay people can marry is weird and forcing the plebiscite, despite how much everybody across the board hates it, is a blatant stalling technique.
Giving responsibility over the plebiscite to the ABS (the people who stuffed up the census)? Spending over $120 million on it, especially in light of all the above? How is this supposed to support the Liberal reputation of using money wisely?
It’s not about giving everyone a say, or representing the will of the people – every poll has shown the majority are in favour of marriage equality. Tony Abbott’s own electorate supports it by over 70%. Yet, of all things, they’ve forced the plebiscite even though the Senate shot it down to fanfare last year.
Why? If I had to guess, I would say because it’s non-binding – which means that if the inevitable happens and Australian’s vote Yes, the government, after spending all that money and all that hoopla, can choose not the legislate it anyway.
The way the government has handled the issue, from top to bottom, has been embarrassing at best but at worst it exposes the queer community to a country-wide public debate on whether they should be treated like normal human beings, and Turnbull’s government knows it. They just don’t care.
Already in the past few days we’ve heard the recycled and inane suggestion that allowing gays to marry will result in – yep, you guessed it – a slippery slope. Next thing you know we’ll have child marriage and people marrying their dogs! Religious freedoms will dissolve! Never mind that none of that happened in any of the twenty-four countries that have legalised marriage equality in the last sixteen years.
Boycotting, in the case of a national vote, is not an option – all that means is the majority of people who do vote will be voting No. This is the corner we’ve been forced into, so we have to mobilize, because the people who hate us have already dropped their leaflets in my mailbox.
Thing is, everyone in the queer community has already had this argument. Many with our family, our friends and our workmates. Most of us have been told by a figure of moral authority, be that a politician, a church leader or a parent, that we are confused or sick. We’ve all been bullied. We’ve been told we should kill ourselves, that we should be rounded up and put in concentration camps, that we are a trend or a phase or a disease. And then, we’ve been told that we’re doing it for the attention, as if any of this attention could possibly be wanted or deserved.
To have Abbott, Bernardi, Bishop and others wring their hands and protest about fearing for their freedom, or fearing social condemnation? Makes me want to say Diddums. You wouldn’t know that fear if it sang Mariah Carey to you in a glitter bikini. To be honest, they could use a little more condemnation. Those overbearing, outdated attitudes have survived for so long because they haven’t been challenged enough.
Let me reiterate my standpoint:
Marriage equality is about equality, not the freedom of the church. The majority of Australian marriages since 1999 have been officiated by a civil celebrant, not a priest.
Marriage is not a religious institution. It’s a civil institution. Marriage pre-dates all modern established religions, and even if it didn’t, the bible’s definition involves slaves and multiple wives and also expressly forbids divorce.
Marriage equality is not about children, either real or hypothetical. Hundreds of gay couples already have kids. That said, allowing gays to marry means it will be easier for many to become foster parents, which would frankly be a miracle for our overburdened and underfunded foster care system.
Crush the idea that queer people infringe on others by merely existing. Crush the idea that queer people are abnormal and threatening. Gender and sexuality do not define us – they are merely attributes. Love is a language we all understand.
We’ve already had to fight to respect ourselves in a world that thinks we don’t deserve it. Do you believe we deserve respect? Do you believe that we are capable of love? Do you believe that we are people too?
Featured image by Stanley Dai via Stocksnap