Bigotry And The Fight For Marriage Equality

Today’s Guest Hoyden is PharoahKatt, who blogs on life, culture and social justice from Perth at Something More Than Sides, and who has crossposted this post from new group poliblog Distinctly Disgruntled.

Today I attended a rally for Marriage Equality in my city. There were rallies all across Australia, hosted by Equal Love, the national campaign for same-sex marriage in Australia.

There were about 500 people at the Rally I attended, 2000 in Sydney and 5000 in Melbourne (I don’t know that stats for the other cities). This is actually a fairly small portion of the population, but it is a portion that is growing rapidly.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to discuss August 13th, what has been declared by The Australian Family Association and The National Marriage Coalition as National Marriage Day. According to the website:

Our nation’s future depends on restoring a strong culture of marriage. It is important therefore that as a nation we encourage couples to embrace the commitment of marriage and to support them throughout their married life. National Marriage Day was inaugurated to throw the spotlight on marriage and spread the news…
marriage is good for you, good for children and good for society.

Those sound like laudable goals, until you realise what exactly the day is celebrating.

August 13 recalls the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act 2004, which defined marriage as;

“a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

The passing of this act was primarily made possible through the efforts of many thousands of Australians being prepared to defend the foundation upon which our nation stands – the family based on marriage.

Mary-Louise Fowler
National Marriage Day Coordinator

Oh, so what they are actually celebrating is the six-year anniversary of the Howard Government’s ban on gay marriage. What they are actually celebrating is legalised bigotry in the form of a law which prohibits marriage on the basis of sexuality. Mary-Louise Fowler, this is not a day of celebration for me, this is a day of sorrow.

Seriously, talk about a slap in the face. Not only has the government denied people the right to marry based on sexuality, but now there is a day celebrate that fact.

But the Australian Marriage Association didn’t stop there. Oh no. Mary-Louise Fowler petitioned the government to financially reward couples who stay married.
Really? Financial incentives to stay married?

What does that say to the person in an abusive relationship, who is already struggling to find a way to leave?
What does that say to the couple who no longer love each other, who have decided to go their separate ways?
What does that say to the family torn apart by hatred, where children go to sleep every night hearing their parents scream?
What does that say to people in love, who want their union (whether a legal ceremony or just a commitment made to each other) to be about that love, not about money?
What does that say to the families deemed less by the government because they haven’t or can’t get married?

I’d like to end this post by telling you one of the most appalling aspects of the same-sex marriage ban. This marriage ban hurts people who are trans* in a horrible way. If you are married and attempting to get the Australian government to recognise your actual gender, you need to get divorced first. Otherwise your marriage would be classed as a same-sex marriage, and the government won’t allow that. It is basically asking you to choose between being recognised as the gender you are, or tearing your family apart. This is a choice that no one should be forced to make.

What can I do?

  • Write to your local member. This is not guaranteed to have any effect whatsoever, and local members may be too inundated with correspondence to get to your letter or email. But every email is another show of support.
  • Vote. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance of WA has put together a handy how to vote guide, based solely on issues of marriage equality. You can find it here.
  • Sign the petition

These are only some of the things you can do. If you have more suggestions, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Categories: culture wars

Tags: , ,

5 replies

  1. Brilliant post, PK. I’m bummed I couldn’t be there, but my health wouldn’t allow it. 😦

    • I find the way that governments, not just ours, make life so unnecessarily difficult bureaucratically for trans folk is just so appalling. The social challenges are hard enough as it is without the government putting the boot in.

  2. Thank you. The rally made me tear up on more than one occasion, both from the moving speeches and love and determination expressed by everyone, as well as the extreme hatred faced by LGBTQI people. I just wish that the major political parties would pay attention.
    As a positive aside;
    One of the best moments of the rally was when a woman proposed to her partner. It was wonderful and there was cheering and crying all ’round 🙂

  3. I didn’t end up going to the rally in Sydney on Saturday, but I’m wishing more and more that I had done. I’m going to try to get a group together to go to the next one, on November 27th.
    I am a passionate supporter of marriage equality — I think that any couple who wants to marry should be allowed to do so, and that gender shouldn’t come into it. At the same time, the financial reward annoys me for all of the reasons you mentioned, and also because it implies that marriage is the BEST possible end for any relationship. As someone in a long term de facto relationship, who has no desire to marry, this shits me no end. My relationship is not less good or less solid than the relationships of people who DO choose to marry. My relationship is not less worthy just because we don’t have a marriage certificate.

  4. I wish that it was more known that ‘marriage’ as we understand it today is a relatively new invention. Not only that, but also that marriage was not so fantastic for women until very recently.
    Most of the bloggers here are probably much too young to have experienced or be aware how marriage stripped women of many rights, of being able to make decisions and even to work. Not to even speak of how women often had to choose to staying in a marriage or lose her children.
    Marriage has only recently been ‘updated’ to create a basically legal framework for two people to live with equal rights in a partnership. Why in the whole wide world it is limited to one man and one woman is totally beyond me. Surely the one man and one woman thing is a purely personal decision. As personal as it is to live life as a Christian or not.
    The hypocrisy is breathtaking really. It would make some sense if a by-line would be that only practising persons with proven baptism certificates can do the ‘marriage’ thing, because the silly picture nowadays presented is a recent Christian fantasy. Just read the bible.
    Over my long career in nursing I’ve seen the cruelest, most devastating ugly things done by family members who appear out of the woodwork when there is some inheritance to be gained from sons they haven’t seen for years. But as inheritance laws stand, a mere ‘friend’ is a long way down the line.
    I personally cannot even fathom why it is anybody’s business if one man and two women (or vice versa) want to have a legally binding marriage. Let alone what gender anybody is. Why would anybody, but the people involved, care who is getting married to whom?

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