Before the last sitting of federal parliament finished, it was resolved that all members should go back to their electorates and gauge their constituents views on gay marriage. Whether they actually do this or not, well, who knows. I personally haven't had anything in my mailbox asking for me to submit my thoughts on it - though I have saved my local member the trouble and emailed him instead. I received a nice reply stating that "should this issue arise, I will take your views into consideration." And yes, I did laugh (scoff) out loud. At least I got a reply.
So anyway, the debate is still raging wildly, and the Greens are waiting for the next sitting to see what sort of support there is to put through a private members bill. I don't hold out too much hope that this will get up, but at least it will keep the debate going.
I was wondering, after my last post on gay marriage, if there was anything more I could add to the debate. And it turns out there is, thanks to a few comments on other blogs and sites on the interwebs. Rather than rehash everything from that previous post, I thought I'd just tackle an issue that keeps coming up that I didn't really address in my last post.
Let's take this to a referendum, and decide once and for all
Why does this irk me so much? One, because this issue isn't based on changing the constitution, which is what it needs to be for a referendum to take place. And we don't have a system like they do in the US where we can add a question to the ballot paper at the next election: "Thanks for casting your vote. By the way, do you think gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry? Please place an X in one box only for your vote to count."
And two? Well, because would you like someone to be given a vote on whether you should get married or not? Let me give you a little scenario to illustrate my point better.
Lets say that in order to obtain a marriage licence, you and your intended have to take your request in front of a judge and a jury of your peers, in several different court rooms. In order for the judge to sign off on your marriage licence, you must explain why you want to get married, and convince the majority of the jurers in a majority of the court rooms.
You need to explain why, when the de facto laws cover the majority of rights and responsibilities as a couple, marrying your intended would be better for you both.
I love him/her. Love is not enough. Just look at the divorce rates. You need to provide something concrete.
It will make us both happier to be married. So, you're not happy now in the relationship you already have?
It's better for us both financially to be married? De facto laws cover that already.
We have children together and we want to make sure they grow up in a stable environment? Possibly a good reason, however you're very close to admitting that your relationship now isn't stable enough for children to be brought up in. Be aware, sir, that you are sailing very close to the wind on this one. I have child safety on speed dial.
What about in the event of a break-up? We want to make sure that we have access to mechanisms to ensure the best possible outcome for our children regarding maintenance and custody. De facto laws already allow you access to the Family Court system on these matters. By the way, ma'am, thinking in terms of a break-up before you're even married? Are you sure you're both even ready for this sort of commitment?
If I die, I want my partner to be looked after. To make sure she doesn't lose the house or anything else because someone in her family doesn't think she deserves it because she's not really a partner. (Sorry, darling, you know who I'm talking about.) You know, you can save yourself a great deal of trouble with this one. Lawyers can draw up wills for this very purpose, and much cheaper than a wedding I might add.
Ok then, what about if I end up in hospital in a coma? And that same relative doesn't allow her access? Or she doesn't get a say in my treatment? Easy, sir. Just have your lawyers draw up a living will and power of attorney. Granted, it could be contested in a long, draw-out court process, but again, its much cheaper than some garish wedding. And if you get your wills drawn up at the same time as your powers of attorney, you'll find it's even cheaper! Win-win I'd say!
Look, this man is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. This man only. He makes me happy. I make him happy. Why can't we just get married? Did you know, ma'am, that this man you say who makes you so happy, is part of a group (the 'male') who on the whole, lives a quite promiscuous lifestyle? He may not have slept with many women himself, however, just being part of this group predisposes him to, well, infidelity. Adultery. Sexually transmitted diseases! (shakes head in disgust) Need I go on?
You know what? Forget the marriage licence. Honey, lets just move to Canada.
Now I know how silly this all sounds, but this is what "we" gays and lesbians are being asked to do. Provide "evidence" that being married is going to make a difference in our lives, more so than being granted de facto status. What proof do you want? Honestly. We're arguing over feelings here - things that can't just be quantified into tangible proof. Does that mean that love and commitment (two of the cornerstones of marriage) should take a back seat because you want proof that marriage will be better than what we already are allowed to have because "you" feel the de facto laws are enough? If that's the case, why should anyone be allowed to get married? And why should wedding vows be allowed to contain anything about intangible feelings at all, if they can't be used as proof that I should be allowed to legally marry my wife?
As I've said before, I love my wife. She loves me. Our relationship has been made stronger by the formal commitment we made in front of family and friends. Why is that such a hard thing to understand?
Show your support
There are many different ways to show yoru support to this issue, and below are just two of the many sites available.
To share your story and explain why gay marriage equality matters to you, go to My Marriage Story
To send an email to your local member sharing your views on gay marriage, go to Australian Marriage Equality