As I watch, listen and try to ignore the debate around marriage equality currently dominating our airwaves, I think of how today’s children would be feeling.
I remember once when I was in high school and (as usual) had to defend myself from open prejudice and bigotry from one of my very own classmates, all because I am gay.
As soon as the teacher left the room, this girl launched into an attack on me, calling me a name I’d never repeat and it’s something I’ve never forgotten.
Discrimination of any form is shocking, it never stops being shocking and its purpose is always to hurt.
I’m seeing that same discrimination pop up now, but this time in a form where the public feels it has a right to decide whether or not my rights should be recognised.
I don’t intend on marrying anybody anytime soon, but I know plenty of gay and lesbian couples who just want (and deserve) their love to be recognised in Australia.
The same-sex marriage survey is pretty clear. It says in black and white the single question the Australian public is being queried on: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
Aside from the fact that many LGBTIQ couples are already raising their own children in loving homes and that marriage equality will make no difference at all to this, much of the noise from the ‘no’ side centres around a concern for children.
What I want to know is: where is this concern for the thousands of LGBTIQ youth who are being hurt by this aggressive debate by being led to believe they are second-class citizens who don’t deserve to share the same rights as everyone else around them?
Another point from the ‘no’ side surrounds religion and the sacred institution of marriage.
It’s interesting to think that, while our country is far from being completely Christian, the ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ argument seems to get a lot of airtime.
Personally, I wouldn’t want someone else’s religious beliefs being the basis of law for all in our country. Furthermore, arguments based on religion are supported by archaic beliefs from a biblical theory which reflected the society of the time. As humans, we have grown and progressed to a point where our values now are starkly different to what they may have been hundreds of years ago. When society evolves, we adjust our laws accordingly, and a law around same-sex marriage should be no exception.
Australians have always prided themselves on our inclusiveness and our great Aussie mateship. We’re always more than happy to crack a cold one with a mate. We are the lucky country. We simply cannot continue to indulge ourselves in this delusion if in reality we are just like the rest of the world, or worse.
We need to remember who we are as a country and the values we hold dear. And remember to extend that human dignity to our gay brothers and sisters, cousins, colleagues, friends.
If the sacred institution of marriage can withstand drunken unions in Vegas, high rates of divorce and shotgun ceremonies, I believe it can withstand letting gay people join the party.
- Luke Ashton, Shepparton