The legalisation of same-sex marriage will change what it means to be queer. As I cried amongst strangers on a London train at the US announcement, I realised they were partly tears of relief. Finally, I thought, my sexuality will no longer demote me as a citizen. The consciousness was motivating. I’d been accidentally coasting through my life on the assumption that being gay would indefinitely make everything that bit harder. As gay rights were celebrated worldwide, I knew I deserved better. The message is massive: I can be proud of who I am, not excuse it and as the cultural shifts begin to follow the legislation, we’ll finally get that post-gay world where sexuality is no longer touted as one size fits all. I don’t need to point out that marriage is just a modifier – this is a movement towards equality, and Tony Abbott’s resistance is, frankly, appalling.
Used like a political chew toy, same-sex marriage is continually bandied about internally. With the cross-party bill due to take place on 11 August and the Liberal party due to discuss a conscience vote on 18 August, we’re in a hopeful pause until the end of the winter break – the way things currently stand in government, this would be the only way to get same-sex marriage across the Australian line.
But Tony Abbott isn’t going to make it that easy. Once he’s woken up from his nap at the ashes, he’ll be digging in deep to make sure gay rights remain a fringe issue. It’s not just that Mr Abbott is kind of like the bigoted uncle you warn people about before going to a dinner party, but that Australia’s internal conservative powerbase are determined to keep queer politics at the bottom of the national priorities pile.
I’m constantly surprised at the general silence of the Australian press. Yes, a few battles may have been won, but the war rages on. Key ground has been taken – just a few weeks after Ireland’s critical ruling in favour of same-sex marriage the USA went ahead and legalized it in every state. The Australian government, meanwhile, continues to hold back global progress. As these momentous decisions were made worldwide, Toby Abbott, quite literally, had nothing to say: shown in an embarrassing (now viral) clip he avoids ‘same-sex marriage’ so carefully, it’s as if he believes saying it aloud might suddenly make it happen.
So where’s the outrage? Statistics tell us 68% of the population is now in favour of same-sex marriage (up from 64% but a couple of months ago), yet for Australian queer couples matrimony is still an Air New Zealand flight away. Ask anyone outside of Australia and, dangerously, they’ll often assume that marriage equality took place here light-years ago. That’s a risky situation to be in: when something is assumed to be inevitable it breeds complacency – a sense that participation in an outcome is no longer necessary. The logic doesn’t work on two levels: despite what the Internet might make you feel, the right for queer Aussie couples to wed is not certain.
At this point, it is an utter scandal that the prime minister is more comfortable chowing down on raw onions than he is discussing gay rights. And yes, this is a rights issue. It’s about ending discrimination. Let’s all join hands and say it together: There Is No Case Against Marriage Equality. I promise you, there isn’t.
Listening to the arguments against currently doing the rounds in Australia are the same, ignorant ones already exhausted in America, the UK and now Ireland. The dialogue is so tired it’s barely worth mentioning, but for clarity’s sake: no, Eric Abetz, this is not paving the way for polyamory. If you want hard facts rather than the squishy, turd-like ones you prefer – you could use five minutes to go through the history of marriage, an institution that has been constantly adapted to fit the whims of a changing society. Take the introduction of divorce, for example, or the addition of non-religious ceremonies – no one seemed too worried about sanctity when it suited a heterosexual agenda. Funny then, that it’s the gay version of ‘I do’ that would somehow taint the church. Call me kooky, but it sure sounds like old-fashioned discrimination from where I’m listening.
As for same-sex marriage getting in the way of ‘religious freedom’ – let’s stop before we get started. The US has already neatly demonstrated that once a voice for minorities in the face of a Christian majority, religious freedom has been abused to the point that the liberty it once represented is merely a guise – an excuse to attack LGBT rights. Don’t let that nasty shit continue to filter through – before you know it, anti-discrimination laws will start quietly shifting under our noses.
Deep down, I’m sure even Tony Abbott knows all of this. Catch him as he’s being kicked out of a BBQ on a Friday night and you’ll hear him sob ‘we’ve got zilch’. Because nothing trumps the freedom to safely be who you are. Don’t let the haters hate, either – stand up, say something and don’t be forgiving because at some point we have to draw a line in the goddam sand. Move past the frantic, unfounded claims and you’ll find quivering archbishops mumbling ‘but I’m sure it just isn’t natural’ while desperately thumbing through bibles. Turns out, gasp, I’m the same amount of human as you, guys. You’d do well to start honouring that – I hear you could use a few more members. Let alone votes, Tony.
Follow Kat Patrick on Twitter @KatPeaks
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