There are five people in my immediate family — my parents, my brother and my partner of almost 13 years.

My partner and I both have full-time jobs and pay a significant amount of tax each year as part of our patriotic financial duty to a country we love.

My other three family members do not work. My ageing and loving parents are both on pensions and my 37-year-old brother has been unemployed for most of his life.

Broken down to its most basic equation, my partner and I pay for these three other members of our family to live. Our taxes cover their fortnightly welfare benefits. Our taxes help cover their medical expenses. In my brother’s case, our taxes also help support his two children from a failed de facto relationship.

We love our family and we understand it is our duty as good citizens of a wealthy country to support the aged and unemployed.

What we don’t understand is why we are not afforded the same rights as they are.

If our money is good enough to keep this country operating, why are we not afforded the basic right to enter into a formalised union on Australian soil?

Equality cannot be measured in degrees. When our partners are unemployed, we are expected to support them. When they are sick or dying we are expected to pay for their treatment. In fact when it comes to all things financial, the Government expects same-sex couples to stand up and do their bit thanks to legislative changes brought in by Kevin Rudd.

I take no issue with being asked to pay my way. It is part of being in a loving relationship and part of being a model citizen.

But I will always resent the fact that while my money is good enough, my relationship is not considered worthy or formal recognition in the country I love.

And while Prime Minister Gillard might think a conscience vote is an effective way to bring the debate to a head, I can assure her it will do little more than further raise the ire of the tens of thousands of LGBTI
Australians living in committed, long-term same-sex relationships who ask for nothing more than the same legal rights afforded the rest of the country.

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