We stand for equality, here in Australia.
I think that’s a joke.
For the past two weeks, the following things have headlined Australian media stations nationally: Donald Trump and his frankly disastrous grip on America and its politics, terrorism, Princess Diana (yes we’re part of the Commonwealth, but what did she do for Australia?) and lastly, the fact that marriage equality is going round in circles between old white men in parliament.
It’s no wonder I’ve stopped exercising to music, and instead decided to listen to the news while I do my half hour of cardio. There’s nothing quite like Malcolm Turnbull’s annoyingly slow discourse to get me invigorated enough to smash out a stellar workout session.
We stand for equality. But do we really? My question to parliament and those in opposition of legalising same sex marriage is simple. What’s going to happen if tomorrow, two men can get married under the same legal jurisdiction that I can? What’s going to fundamentally change if two women can be wed and celebrated in the same way that my husband and I will one day also enjoy? Why is there a problem with two people wanting to celebrate their undying love for each other, and in the process, legalising it?
Australia, constitutionally, is a secular nation. That means there is no state church recognised. However, Australian citizens are given the choice to exercise their beliefs or not. Religious lobby groups are able to push for their point of view on issues that impact greater society, but so too are humanitarian groups, athiest lobbygroups and rational organisations.
If we so strongly claim to be a secular nation where the religious rights and freedoms our people have cannot impose on the human rights and freedoms of our people, why hasn’t marriage equality been legalised?
At the heart of this cacophony is the horrifying fact that Australia is sending out this message to its people and the global community: Australians value equality and justice for all, but it’s ok to exclude any individual who does not identify as heterosexual from one of the oldest social traditions – marriage, as their relationships are immediately seen as inferior.
If it were up to the public, Australia would be a place where anyone could legally marry, regardless of sexual orientation.
To think that as a nation, we praise ourselves for our views on equality and acceptance for all, but my friends who aren’t straight today will not be able to share their love in a legal union like I will disturbs me on many levels. If people are really concerned with Adam and Steve getting married legally, let me point out that under human rights la, all individuals are seen as equals and are entitled to the protection of the law.
To keep it short and sweet, a room full of old white men should not be allowed to decide whether or not those who have a different partner preference to the norm should be allowed to get married. Politicians shouldn’t be the ones choosing who can and can’t get married. Perhaps the most fatal flaw however, is the fact that the Australian constitution has not solidified the notion that all individuals are equal under the eyes of the law, and should be treated so.
Maybe that’s why we’re still going to keep waiting.