Right now, the plebiscite vote as to whether same-sex marriage should be enshrined in law, is the hot topic du jour. Yes, grown adults in parliament wanting to conduct what is essentially a glorified opinion poll (because the result of a plebiscite vote is not legally binding, therefore the government is not legally obliged to act on the result) to determine if the majority of voting-age Australians agree to two consenting men or two consenting women being allowed to marry.
For the record, I am a straight, cisgender female and I say “yes” to marriage equality. I’m a bit sick and tired of the same old arguments being trotted out by the anti-same-sex marriage brigade. It’s time to do a hatchet job on those arguments, once and for all.
The argument: “But marriage is between a man and a woman!”/”It’s ‘Adam and Eve’, not ‘Adam and Steve’!” etc etc ad nauseum
The definition of marriage and the purpose of marriage has changed over the aeons. Marriage was once a means of forming a strategic alliance between families, has not always only been between one man and one woman, and consent wasn’t a prerequisite until a Benedictine monk decided that consent should be a thing. Hell, marital rape wasn’t even outlawed in Australia until the 1980s. And even now, there’s bound to be at least one person out there who is still yet to accept that a woman in a relationship/marriage doesn’t have to just “lie back and think of England“.
And before anyone harks up about homosexuality being “unnatural”, let’s just point out that homosexuality has been observed in 1,500 known species. Homo Sapiens seems to be the only species that has an issue with it.
Lastly, before anyone bangs on about same-sex marriage “destroying the sanctity of marriage”: Look at the divorce rate in Australia and then come back and say how same-sex marriage will “destroy the sanctity of marriage”. Hands up those who know any same-sex couples who have been together longer than some marriages!
The argument: “But a child needs a mother and a father!”
I wasn’t raised by a same sex couple, so I don’t really have a basis for comparison. But, here are two videos from adult children of gay parents, who talk about their experiences. We’ll just leave these videos here:
But wait! There’s more!
And we’ll leave you with one more for good measure…
I will also leave this video of a young girl who wrote to US President Barack Obama about her two dads:
So that I am not accused of cherry-picking, here are two videos, one from Millie Fontana, and one about Heather Barwick, adult children of gay parents. The former speaks about the impact on how her parents denied her contact with her biological father, and the latter is a report on Heather Barwick, who opposes same-sex marriage. Now, before you start firing off with expletives, hear them out:
Fontana’s argument is not so much an argument against same-sex marriage as same-sex parenting. While Zach Wahls and Erin Judge seemed not to be bothered about their paternal line, Millie wanted to know hers. This argument can be brought up in several scenarios not related to same-sex couples, and there are legal, moral and ethical issues to consider, e.g. anonymity of sperm and/or egg donors.
Barwick argues that same-sex marriage should be opposed because her dad abandoned her, despite the fact her mother and her mother’s female partner loved her very much and did a good job raising her (on her own admission). However, to deny other LGBT people the right to marry because her dad was a jerk is about as absurd as an adult child of heterosexual parents calling for marriage between a man and a woman to be outlawed because one parent repartnered/remarried and the other parent abandoned them. There are heterosexual couples/people out there who aren’t exactly a shining example of how to guide young people to behave as an upstanding member of society. Exhibit A: the father of Brock Turner.
There’s a Yoruba (African) proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. Anyone seen the movie Preaching to the Perverted? [SPOILER ALERT] Remember the very end of the movie? Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the infant girl at the end was the luckiest baby in all of London – she had her dad, her mum, her mum’s (presumably) female partner and her paternal grandmother, all with love in their hearts and all happy to help in raising this child.
The argument: “But same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples anyway!”
Well, not quite. In 2007, the Australian Human Rights Commission released this report into the systemic discrimination against same-sex couples enshrined in law at the time, and same-sex law reforms were passed in November 2008. To read the Act in its entirety, click here. These reforms addressed discrimination with regard to social security, taxation and the like. So yeah, Centrelink recognises same-sex couples like it does a marriage or a heterosexual de facto couple.
However, the right of next-of-kin depends on which state you live in. In 2015, in Hobart, a man was denied the right to be next-of-kin of his deceased same-sex partner. Then there was the case of David Bulmer-Rizzi, who died in an accident while honeymooning in Adelaide – and authorities refused to recognise his widower, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, as David’s husband, let alone his next-of-kin. Victoria, at least, has some legislation in place to help prevent something like this from happening in the first place.
Anyway, enough of the rebuttal of the existing arguments against marriage equality. Now to present some arguments in favour of marriage equality:
#1. John Howard did not need a plebiscite to amend the Marriage Act in 2004
These amendments included the insertion of Section 88EA of the Marriage Act and the definition of “Marriage” under Section 5. And if John Howard didn’t need a plebiscite then, then Malcolm Turnbull certainly doesn’t need one now, especially considering senator Eric Abetz has gone on the record to say that Coalition MPs won’t be bound by the plebiscite result and Liberal Party senator Cory Bernardi has also stated that he will ignore a ‘yes’ result and vote against any marriage equality bill in parliament, which kinda makes the plebiscite pointless.
#2. Same sex couples shouldn’t need the permission of the Australian public to marry
Same sex couples are adults. They vote. They work. They pay taxes. They can buy liquor and cigarettes. They are serving in our defence force. They do all the adult things, JUST LIKE US STRAIGHT FOLK! Married couples, did YOU have to ask permission from the Australian public to marry? No. They will also have the choice whether to marry or not, just as heterosexuals have that choice as it stands.
#3. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of your damn business
Dear people who oppose marriage equality, is the marriage of a same sex couple going to affect YOUR life in any way? Let me tell you now, it isn’t going to affect mine, so it’s hardly going to affect yours. Never mind this married couple who claimed that they will divorce if same-sex marriage became legal. It’s still their choice, not to mention that they’re “destroying the sanctity of marriage” by divorcing and “living in sin” (an archaic term for a couple living together as husband and wife but not legally married).
#4. It will benefit the wedding industry
The wedding industry in Australia is worth about $2 billion annually. Imagine all the extra revenue generated for businesses such as florists, photographers, jewellers, bakeries (for wedding cakes), formal wear and catering. That means increased employment (directly and indirectly) and more government revenue in the form of income tax and GST.The Liberal Party of Australia are the self-proclaimed champion of small businesses, yet if they want to stimulate “jobs and growth” as they parroted out in the last election, surely this a good start.
Once marriage equality legislation passes and everyone gets over themselves, 40 years from now, people will see the current arguments over same-sex marriage as absurd as our generation sees the hoo-hah over interracial marriage back in the 1960s.