Michael and I have been talking about marriage equality for some time in our own ways on our blogs, facebook, twitter and face to face. I’ve been doing my little bit since that fateful day in 2004 when John Howard passed through the Australian Parliament legislation that effectively added discrimination to the marriage act. It was a deliberate and mean spirited step by him and his government, with the support of the Labor Party to stop people of the same sex from getting married.
Re-writing the marriage act has allowed a whole section of our community to use it as a weapon to decry any attempts to change the law. It has lead to an increase in intolerance of people of different sexual orientation and identity. It has lead to an increase in homophobia.
It would seem to me that the change to the marriage act has had a knock on effect that has rippled its way through our society. When I hear the cry of those words that Howard inserted “Marriage is between one man and one woman” I cringe. It’s a phrase that is so thrown around now as if everything that follows it is fully justified. Few people continue the phrase with “entered into for life to the exclusion of all others” because nobody takes those words seriously. We all know that we can get a divorce or even have an affair. (Not that I’m suggesting that’s the case for everyone, I have several people I look at that have been in long term marriages/relationships for decades, I admire them)
For Michael and me it’s not so much about getting married. It’s about being treated equally. Michael is acutely aware of the impact of homophobia to those kids less able to reach out in the orthodox Jewish communities. He has long championed the cause of those unable to speak out. Not because he’s directly affected by the intolerance and the hatred, but because he cares. Deeply. It is one of those qualities that I admire greatly in my partner and fully support him.
All around the world, homosexuals, transgendered, intersex and bisexuals are discriminated against. In Australia we have it fairly good by world standards. When you look at certain nations in Africa, Russia and in the US, it’s clear that there is much work to be done. In some places not only can you get locked up for being gay, but you could be executed. In some places, religion is used as a weapon to justify such actions.
Michael and I decided to participate in Adam Hills – In Gordon Street Tonight Big Gay Wedding. It’s our way of standing up and being counted in a very public way. I still find it ludicrous in Australia that marriage equality is still an issue. (There’s two videos below to watch if you like)
I’ve let people know that’s what I’m doing. I’ve shared it with my family, my friends and at work. I’ve had plenty of great responses from people, including this one from one of my sisters children (my two nieces)
They were both incredulous at the thought of being told you can’t marry someone …”What do you mean people don’t think men should marry men?! That makes no sense at all!”
And this one from a Facebook friend, Jim Best on the group called Straights with Mates:
Time on the other hand will be your friend as 1. Oldies, who just can’t come to terms with the concept, die off and get replaced by the likes of your nieces, and 2. Blokes like me who probably would have scoffed at the idea five years ago, become more understanding and accepting.
It’s good to see this shift.
The Human Rights Council at the United Nations recently meet to discuss “Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” and the UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon addressed them.
His speech is moving and important. He says
To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say:
You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle.
Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold.
Today, I stand with you … and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too….
A historic shift is under way. More States see the gravity of the problem….
Tackle the violence… decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships… ban discrimination… and educate the public…
I count on this Council and all people of conscience to make this happen.
The time has come.
Indeed the time has come. Read the full transcript or watch the video
There’s a challenge in his words for Australians:
Tackle the violence… decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships… ban discrimination… and educate the public.
The time has come to consider the reasons for the ongoing discrimination in Australian society. It’s time to lift that discrimination.
When I watch this piece from Greys Anatomy
It makes me think of how unjust the world is towards same-sex attracted people. If you want to know why marriage equality is important, it’s in this little bit of drama from the TV. It sums it up so well. The value of the love between two gay men is undermined by a society that frowns up it. When they need each other, they are kept apart.
My relationship with Michael is one of the greatest things to happen in my life. We have a wonderful life together and I crave to share my world with him. My relationship with him does not affect anyone else, it doesn’t change the world. In fact it makes the world a better place, because two more of its citizens are happy, not only that but a stable relationship helps both of us in our dealings with other people. We know we have the support of each other and stability helps my children as they have a happy father, and brings peace of mind to Michael’s parents and family as we are in a loving relationship.
Marriage equality is needed, discrimination causes great harm, it’s easy to fix. Let’s fix it.
The time has come.
Michael and me on Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight.