Apr 10

Marriage is indeed one of the ancient ceremonies that marks our passage through life.  It’s up there with birth and death.  It’s so important that a whole department of government is devoted to it. Birth Deaths and Marriages.1  (What we like to refer to as hatches matches and dispatches)

Today was a marriage day for our family.  Michael’s cousin.  It was a good day of celebration as two people commit to each other.

Weddings always bring into stark reality the standing of my citizenship in Australia.  I’ve been married, recently divorced.   For most of my marriage I was happy, and Jennie and I enjoy the good times, struggled with the bad times but got through it, still the best of friends.  I find myself, now,  in a very natural relationship that actually makes me happy.  Happier than I have ever been.  I feel I’m personally thriving in a loving relationship with a man who’s company I crave and enjoy.

I’ve seen both sides of this love thing.  I recognise the feelings and sensations of being in love.  I’m not sure what it actually means and I probably can’t articulate this myself.  At times I think it’s more about how I feel when my partner is not about, how much I would miss the contact if he wasn’t in my life.  It really was the same when I was madly in love with Jennie.  It hurt for a long time when that finally came to an end.  I admit however, that I chose to be heterosexual, and that somewhat tainted the feelings I had.  Nonetheless, I was in love.

Having been on both sides of this, I can see a big difference between my now relationship and my then relationship.  Whereas is was quite common to ask about my wife and how she was doing by friends and colleagues, I rarely get that about Michael.  (He’s fine – thanks for asking)

Once the talk about weekends and holidays was about what you did with your family, it’s now often a question of “Did Michael go with you” – well of course he did, that’s why we’re in a relationship.  (Although I won’t go to a dance party!).

The waffle is about perception.  I feel, right within me, deep down, where it matters, at the grass roots, and so on, that this relationship is every bit as important, if not more so, than my heterosexual relationship to me.

I don’t need a government to tell me that I’m a second class citizen.  I don’t need John Howard’s words of marriage being between one man and one woman.  That is just bollocks.  The withholding of marriage from same sex couples isn’t needed.

Michael and Gregory at the registry office

At the registry office - could we actually get married one day?

As I stood in the registry office yesterday, and heard the celebrant chant the John Howard mantra – Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life – it became apparent to me how much those words create a divide between us.  It reaffirms my status as second class citizen.  A status that I don’t deserve.

But, to be clear, I don’t want to be married again.  I don’t need that formal process to give my relationship any extra value.  What I do want is to be treated equally.  I want my relationship to be acknowledged by the society in which I live.  I am as much a part of my community as any married person. Why should my relationship be considered as anything other than equal?

Allowing ‘gay marriage’ won’t change the world.  Same-sex relationships will continue to exist regardless of the law.  Actually recognising those relationships as marriage won’t change the way marriage is viewed.  It won’t sustain any damage – it won’t increase the divorce rate, it won’t decrease children born out of wedlock, it won’t bring the wrath of any supernatural beings upon us.  What it will do is say to everyone, yes, we as a society recognise the value of being in a stable committed relationship based on love and mutual respect for each other.

That to me sounds like a value worth upholding, and a value that all Australians can share.

Next time you are at a marriage ceremony, as you chomp your way through the cake, as you take away the bay widening2 items – think about those who can’t share in that same joy because of the way society restricts membership to the club.

And as to the newly married couple – my very best wishes to you, may your exclusion of all others be long and happy.

  1. Why in Victoria, when same-sex couples can register their relationship is the registry place called Birth Deaths and Marriages, surely Birth Deaths and Relationships would be better
  2. Cheap shit from China SOURCE

6 Responses to “Equal to what?”

  1. If you’re reading this story and you are planning on getting married, remember you’re participating in a process that’s segregatory, discriminatory, exclusive, elitist and unfair. It’s like being a white person who was allowed to vote when blacks weren’t, or men who get paid more than women for the same work, or able-bodied people who are given preference to disabled people. You might want to think twice before getting married if you have a social conscience and a sense of what’s fair and good.

    Thank you Gregory for putting the words together.

    Love you.


  2. Naomi Barnett says:

    Outstanding writing Greg. Sensitively written and very poignant.

    Nice photo too!



  3. Tony Langdon says:

    A well written commentary. As I have attended the last 2 weddings in my family with my partner, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Fortunately, my family and friends do ask about Mark, and how he’s as they would about my sisters’ husbands (I have 4 sisters), but those words spoken during the ceremony do grate a bit.

    Over the years, my family have included us as much as possible (and well beyond societal norms) included us in events such as weddings and other occasions, right down to the bouquet catching at weddings.

    As a legally registered couple, we are in a bit of “no mans land”, when it comes to dealing with society’s paperwork. Most business and Government departments want to know one’s marital status for whatever reason. When I visited the doctor a few months ago, he was rather surprised when I said “none of the above!”, because I’m not single (I have a partner), not de-facto (I have a piece of paper with some legal standing), not married (thanks John Howard and Kevin Rudd – NOT), not widowed, and definitely not divorced!

    All we want is a little bit of equality, or to put it another way, the fair go that Australians were once renowned for.

  4. Mal says:

    As a gay man who was in a straight marriage for twenty eight years, I understand what you are saying. In fact our stories seem very similar. My ex-wife married the man she loves last year, but that is not something that I am allowed to do. Since the Howard government began to canvas the issue in mid-2004 (amending the Marriage Act in August of that year) I have been involved in the fight for equality, especially marriage equality.

    State recognition of any relationship is not the be all and end all. I don’t need it. However, the institutionalised discrimination in the Marriage Act flows through to all the other issues that affect us. It is all about our relationships. As gay men and lesbians, our relationships are viewed as less valid and valuable. Until that discrimination ends, we will never be viewed as equal no matter how many other laws the federal government may pass to make us ‘equal’.

  5. Greg Adkins says:

    Yes I agree with Naomi and others… your writing captures how you feel about having a relationship which is not recognised as equal in the application of “marriage”.

    In contrast my partner and I don’t feel like second class citizens for making the conscious choice that “marriage” is not the option we want to have as a so called “first class” relationship.

    We see marriage as a religious institution which should be just that – reserved for people who want and need recognition within their faith systems. Our relationship is not a second class relationship solely because we reject the need for a state to align marriage to faith and will continue to push for a true secular state in which the rights and protections afforded us in a same-sex relationships are identical in all ways to people in relationships with a “marriage certificate”… that is true equality.

    If we can be a truly secular state then whatever people determine is the domain for their faith systems in applying “marriage” to relationships would not lessen the state’s recognition of relationship status whether or not people were “married” within a religious definition. That faith based change would be one for people to deal with and negotiate inside their faith systems, and if unsuccessful, would not and should not in any way reflect out of the faith onto relationships sanctioned by the state as first-class relationships.


  6. Greg (Adkins), you state:

    We see marriage as a religious institution…

    The wedding Gregory and I attended on Saturday was not a religious marriage. In fact there was not a single reference to anything religious in the entire proceedings.

    How to do you reconcile your interpretation of marriage with the reality of faith-less marriages?


Leave a Reply


preload preload preload