What a week I’ve had. What a month it’s been. It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting out on the deck thinking about all that’s happened. I wonder just how people survive at times. There is such a swirl of feelings and emotions going on all the time for me as I struggle to make sense of all that’s happening.
A hectic week at work as I pick up the pieces after a couple of weeks off. I’m at the pointy end of a couple of major projects, which is a great feeling. All the planning and research that at times is tedious and difficult finally pays off and I’m at a stage of making in one project, a really well-informed decision. That’s good. The addition of another contract has set off a whole raft of events that needs my focus, so at the end of a mammoth work week my head is spinning. It’s not so much daunting, it’s more along the lines of mixing in the new project with the old and giving them all the right attention.
In my personal life I’m listening to and supporting the mother of my children as she continues to live with her terminal cancer. It’s a challenge. I’ll do what’s needed to take care of her. Nobody deserves such a rough end. When it’s someone you love and care about, that makes it all the more difficult.
After four years, Michael and I continue to co-habit in a wonderful life together, we at times struggle with each other, but somewhere within us is a deep love and respect for each other. It helps us sort out our relationship. It also helps that he has gorgeous brown eyes and a winning smile.
Looking back a bit further, I’ve reeled in horror at the outrageous demonisation of my sexuality and therefore me by Wallace at the ACL, and then heard that reinforced by Jensen on Q&A – it’s been really demoralising to hear such vile words repeated often in the media, making it sound like all people who are gay are a health risk, not just to themselves, but to society at large. The underlying and unsaid meaning coming from the likes of Wallace and Jensen is that gay people are not worthy of life. Certainly not worthy of any recognition in our society.
It was heart warming to see the PM pull out of her keynote speech to the ACL, Gillard is against marriage equality, so for her to withdraw her support from the ACL was gratifying and appeared to be supportive. I took it as a glimmer of hope.
The other big story of course, is the vote in both houses of the Australian Parliament. It saw two marriage equality bills soundly defeated. Further cementing the feeling of second class citizen status in my own country. Somehow my relationship isn’t worthy of recognition.
What a week.
I know my worth as a person, I get on with my job and I’m pretty sure I’m a valued and respected member of the team at work. I know that my adult children love me and we enjoy each others company. I have a good network of friends that seek me out. My partner (but not husband) loves me and I revel in our relationship. Overall, I’m a fairly well-adjusted person, contributing to the lives of those around me, contributing to my society and to the broader Australian community.
The marriage equality debates in the Parliament have had a profound effect on me. It’s not that I expected a different result. I don’t think there were too many people who thought that there would be any change. But I did have hope. It was with eager anticipation that I watched the House of Representative vote on the legislation. There was always an outside chance I thought, that our elected members would actually do the right thing on this.
I caught up with the speeches in the Senate at the end of each day, watching the senators and reading their words. There were some wonderful supportive thoughts. But there were also some ugly speeches that showed an underlying contempt for homosexuals and where in some people’s minds gay people belong. Cory Bernardi’s speech is an example of where his thinking is, and typical of the religious response to marriage equality. In his speech he links homosexuality with bestiality. In the bible there is a passage that links homosexuality with bestiality and calls it an abomination and a perversion. Religion over the years has been unable to see past that. To the minds of many believers that puts the two issues on the same level. Bernardi’s attempts to suggest he has been taken out of context is to overlook the basis for his slippery slope argument. The link has been long-established and religion is to blame. It’s why they always look like a rabbit caught in the headlights when somebody takes them to task about it. Just below their surprise you can see the internal cogs slipping as they try to understand why nobody else has read that passage in the bible.
Then there are the detestable words of Senator Boswell that should upset all men and women, regardless of sexuality.
Same-sex marriage says that a mother or a father does not matter to a child—and it does. Two mothers or two fathers cannot raise a child properly. Who takes a boy to football? Who tells him what is right from wrong? What does he do—go along with the two mums? How does he go camping and fishing? Yes, there might be some attempt by one of the mothers to fill in as a father figure but it will not work. It is defying nature. And what about a young girl changing from a teenager into a young woman? Is it fair to say to her, ‘You don’t have a mother; your mother can’t take you shopping’ or to not be able to help her understand how her body is changing? What are we trying to do here? Why are we trying to defy what has been the right thing for hundreds of thousands of years? What suddenly gives us the inspiration to think that we can have gay marriage and it will not affect anyone?
As I look back at my child-raising days, I’ve been there for my daughter through her changing from ‘a young girl’ and helped her understand how her body works. I did it without being a woman!
The words of Senator Brandis make me wonder how he lives inside his head:
discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality is always wrong, but it does not follow from that proposition that every institution in society, for that reason, must be redefined.
On one hand he acknowledges that discrimination is wrong, but on the other it’s ok.
Senator Joyce from Queensland has some very odd views, way outside my level of understanding of conservatism. He says this in his speech:
If you want to be married, because of the requirements of nature, it involves a male and a female connection for the hope and possibility of having children. You cannot do it with a male and a male. You cannot do it with a female and a female. It is just not possible. The institution of marriage stands ultimately behind the reality of nature. It does not matter what piece of legislation we pass; you cannot change nature. You cannot change that reality. But what we can do is go down a path of a new form of social engineering—about which we really have no idea of the consequences
Well, marriage is a human construct, nature has no requirements as such. Gay couples also enjoy a connection for the hope of having children. And yes, two men or two women can have children, it’s true that they can’t physically conceive them as a couple, but they can and they do have children. Always have, and will continue to find ways to do it. Marriage has nothing to do with nature and everything to do with humans setting their own rules. It’s our rule. His underlying notion is that to allow gay people to have a family would mean that every family would have to have same-sex parents at its head. What a crock. Nothing changes as the Australian society already has same-sex couples raising children in marriage like families. It’s a reality, and last time I checked, reality was not on the blink.
I didn’t see the Senate vote, but I did watch the vote in the House of Reps. It’s not every day you see Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard vote together. I was stunned to see most of the Labor Party stand up and move to the other side of the chamber to vote with the Liberal Party to stop this bill. Despite the Labor Party having a party platform that is in support of marriage equality, most of them crossed the floor and voted with the Liberal Party.
The image of Julia Gillard and most of her cabinet sitting there with the Opposition, smiling and talking, laughing will stick with me. Here I am watching my Parliament take a decision about my rights as a human and they are laughing. It seem to lack any sort of dignity. It was simply another function to perform without any real understanding of the impact that it would have on the people who it affects.
All the words of support and the standing up for us against the likes of Jensen, the ACL and Senator Bernadi are wiped away in a few minutes. All the talk about stopping discrimination and accepting gay people vanish.
The majority rules. They’re happy that they’ve done what they can, passed 80 odd bits of legislation to correct some discrimination, you know, stuff around property rights, medical rights, financial rights. Purely functional things. But they can’t vote in favour of the most fundamental right, that of love. That of marriage.
It’s been a couple of sad days.
I feel gutted, cheated and demoralised. I mean that.
I am determined and I won’t give up.