Politicians would have us believe that gay marriage is a threat to families, to children, to religion, to civilisation and should never be accepted. But how many Aussies, straight and gay, agree with our leaders?
Surprisingly, there are many within the gay community who condone the government’s actions, either because they agree with the consensus, don’t want to mimic a heterosexual ceremony that celebrates domination of Church over man, fear for their gay sexual freedom, or simply aren’t willing to fight for their rights. The word marriage seems to stir up an array of reactions as MBH (my better half) and I found out while discussing the subject with our gay friends in the lead up to our civil partnership ceremony.
“Why not just draw up wills and leave marriage to heterosexuals?” one of our friends suggested. Another brought up religion as a stumbling block. Few considered that marriage could mean more to us than a contractual agreement.
“While marriage should include property or legal issues,” MBH and I agreed, “it should also be about two people coming together, becoming family and having their union recognised by society. Granting homosexuals the right to marry has nothing to do with religion. It is ultimately about equal civil rights.
“Whether you’re for or against it, shouldn’t everyone, straight or gay, be able to get married if they choose to?”
And that’s the thing. There are almost 34,000 same-sex couples in Australia, many raising families, who don’t benefit from equal civil rights. This number is most probably a huge underestimate given that many gay couples choose not to be counted in the Census. So should these couples be denied recognition and protection in health care, pensions and immigration simply because they don’t fit into specific social roles, don’t procreate or are considered immoral by certain religions?
Marriage is an institution that has changed with the times. Nowadays, many straight couples opt to adopt over having children the natural way. Some forgo church weddings in favour of civil ceremonies.
Others marry and divorce as many times as they like without anyone batting an eyelid or questioning the sanctity of marriage. Children raised by gay parents are no less well-adjusted than children brought up in a heterosexual environment. And that’s because family isn’t just about biology. It’s about building a life together, sharing memories, both good and bad, and facing hardships together.
When MBH and I chose to get married, we wanted everything that defines a family. We wanted our “unofficial” union to be made “official. As the UK recognises same-sex marriage and I am the holder of a British passport, we decided to seal the deal at the British Consulate General in Sydney. A few days before our commitment ceremony, we gathered around a table of witnesses at the consulate, in front of a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to exchange our vows. Picture it, three queens cooped up in a room the size of a goldfish bowl and everyone getting along!
Being able to celebrate our love in front of family and friends and have our partnership recognised by British law was a defining moment in my life and one that I am very proud of.
Everyone, whether gay or straight, should have the right to a wedding. With sixty per cent of Australians on board with same-sex marriage, why are our politicians so loath to support it? If other countries can do it, so can we. And, believe me, the world will not come to a grinding halt. So, let’s keep fighting the fight!
There’s nothing wrong with having your cake and eating it, especially if it’s gay wedding cake.
By LUKE BRIGHTY