As I write this, it’s four years since I started dating my girlfriend. They’ve been four beautiful years. We’ve survived and thrived through an interstate move, job changes, life changes and seven big fat Sydney dance parties. We’ve never spent a night apart when we’ve been in the same city. She is my best friend and my one true love. And although we’ve never felt the need to have a ceremony, we’ve spent the past few years as married as anyone I know.
On the weekend I heard a story. Two women I have always known as a very-much-in-love couple told me they are on the verge of a trip to Europe to exchange rings in Verona. This couple is bi-continental. They met through a mutual friend, exchanged emails and photos and one travelled half-way around the world to meet the other in person. Cue romantic music. A love affair, an official migration, a trip to Verona, and a night-time Italian proposal followed. And now, the women are returning to the scene of that momentous night with diamond and platinum rings to exchange.
After last week’s controversy about the ABC’s Play School showing a segment featuring a lesbian couple (referred to by the non-sexual, but still controversial, term mums) The Sydney Morning Herald printed a letter from a 60-year-old Summer Hill mother and grandmother, who has been with her partner for 30 years. That’s 30 years of being considered less than any opposite-sex de facto couple. That’s 30 years of being considered by our governments as no more than girlfriends, or even as single women.
We gays have been taught to hate marriage and everything it stands for. Its roots are all wrong, it is irrelevant. It’s true, marriage as a concept is based on ownership and patriarchy and all of those rotten 50s fruits. Marriage really is just a symbol, but it’s a symbol of actual, true equality. Only straight people have the luxury of turning their backs on marriage, rather than the other way round. And until couples like the two women I know are able to make their marriage official, their commitment legally equates to a couple of queers mucking around with rings. It’s time politicians and the public realised our community loves and commits just as hard as everyone else.