For a country with three of the top ten most liveable cities, it is a shame that our politics don’t match. Particularly when it comes to Marriage Equality.
Our politicians have decided not to do the job that we elected them to and get us to do an Australian Idol kind of vote that is non-binding (ie they don’t have to act on the results in any way) and could possibly be illegal (there is a case before the High Court as we speak). If politicians want to know what the public think, an opinion poll would be more statistically accurate and cost about $100 million less. (Polls show up to 72% of Australians support marriage equality)
Putting all that to one side, what we are talking about is legislating love. That has never worked and has never served the people when it has been tried. My gorgeous wife is of Sri Lankan descent. In a not too distant past, some governments would have stopped (or tried to stop) our “inter-racial” marriage.
Everyone has their own opinion and will vote how they choose. But I am not clear on what voting against marriage equality will gain.
Couples will still live together, will still love each other, will still raise families if they choose, still pay taxes, still go about their normal lives – regardless of the outcome.
But voting against it means that their spouse will not be recognised under law. So should their spouse die, they will be faced with reams of paperwork to access what current married spouses take for granted. This happened to Lara Ryan and I couldn’t imagine the turmoil. In a Facebook post she talks about how she had to:
- Get police permission to write “Spouse” on incident reports
- Cross out boxes for Husband and Father on the birth certificate of her newborn
- Scream in an emergency room, “She’s my wife – I know it’s not legal but she’s my wife”
Because GLBTIQ marriage is not recognised in Australia, should you get married overseas, you cannot get divorced here (because we don’t believe you got married!) Recently the United Nations said that Australia is in breach of human rights because of this because one person had to apply to them to try and get some kind of closure on their marriage. Our government is still considering this breach.
A gay couple married in the UK came to Australia for their honeymoon. Tragically one of them died here. Under our law they were not considered married so the surviving partner could not sign next of kin documents or take the appropriate action at a time of great grief.
These are just a few of the issues that are faced by our lack of marriage equality. All because their committed relationships are not recognised by our laws.
Oh, and the impact on non-GLBTIQ people if GLBTIQ people get married? NONE. (Well except for missing out on some fantastic celebrations). According to the multiple other countries that allow everyone to get married, there has been no devastation, no corruption of the innocent, all that has happened is that anyone can now take the steps to get married.
Voting Yes on our non-binding plebiscite is a vote of love. It is a vote for other peoples love as well as your own. It is a vote for allowing basic rights to those that have been denied them. It is a vote of tolerance. It is a vote of consideration. It is a vote to allow people to show publicly what others already know. It is a vote for our country to move forward.
Some people will vote No for religious reasons but I don’t understand that. Most religions I know of are founded on love. Nearly every holy scripture, regardless of religion, will have a quote saying that love is the foundation of life (or something to that affect). While you may not agree with marriage equality, who are you to impose your will on another who will keep loving their partner regardless of what you think? Wouldn’t it be an act of love to contribute to their security, their happiness, their love?
Let’s be super honest, the sanctity of marriage has long past. We have TV shows where people get married without having met the person before. Celebrities get married for a matter of hours, not even days. It is not uncommon for people to have been married multiple times (I am up to my second but that’s where it ends for me!) It is a great institution and a display of commitment, but let’s not say it is something it is not.
In a world where we see hate in action on a daily basis, it is time for a strong act of love.
PS Shaun Micallef puts forward one of the best arguments on this subject. It’s worth watching.