Edit: As of 6:01pm AEDT on Thursday the 7th of December 2017, Australia now has Marriage Equality. What I wrote below in regards to marriage and its reasons, its purposes, no longer applies. I am leaving it for historical reasons, for context of what my thoughts were prior to Australia gaining equality. Love won.
With everyone going crazy on social networks right now about #MarriageEquality and the US Supreme Court looking into the rulings on it, I was going to re-iterate my thoughts and my stance on the topic. Only, I realised I had never consolidated my thoughts in writing. Well, at least not in a blog post.
It’s pretty clear I’m a supporter of equality. Sexuality equality is what I talk most about, but also sexual, racial, and any other type I tend to argue in support of. So let me explain why.
You see, I am a straight white male from Sydney Australia. See? Oh wait, that’s got nothing to do with it. You see, I am right handed. Wait, that’s got nothing either. I have my car license? I uhh … I uhh … I guess I don’t have any personal directly affecting reason to support equality…
I am a straight, white, CIS, male. I am not personally restricted in the slightest by the lack of marriage equality.
The real reason why I care about equality is because it’s just the right damned thing to do. It’s the ethical thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do. The fact that those leading and funding the push against equality also claim to be the moral authority just deplores me.
All that should matter is that they are people. It should be regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of sex. As long as they are:
- Human beings.
- Of an age generally accepted to be of mature mind and able to make informed legal decisions for themselves (or in short are considered legally an adult).
- Are of sound mind.
- Are making the decision with no duress and of their own free will.
If they fit those categories then that should be all that counts!
If we really have to stretch things to find a way in which the current restrictions may be said to affect me, it would be in confusion. The way marriage currently stands under Australian law confuses me. I don’t understand what it stands for, I don’t understand the point of it, I don’t understand the purpose of it, I don’t understand the meaning of it, I don’t understand why anybody would do it. So lets explore the most common arguments.
Marriage in Australia is not about having kids. There’s no legal requirement to have kids once you’re married, nor is there a requirement to be married before you have kids. Legally you’re more than welcome to remain unmarried when you have kids, or even be single while having kids.
I’ve heard the argument made that the term “marriage” in other contexts is the combining of two items to make a third, just as two people coming together and having a child makes a third. These people cannot even get analogies correct. Marriage in other contexts is taking two items and combining them into a single item. When you marry two items you do not end up with more, with three. When you marry two items you end up with less, you end up with one item. This makes the whole reproduction thing a horrible analogy with the term “marriage” in other contexts.
On top of this, there’s no fertility tests as a prerequisite for marriage. To counter those who say “Oh but there’s still a potential”, there’s not even upper age limits on marriage (where there’s no potential). Kids and childbirth are completely irrelevant to marriage.
Marriage in Australia is not about religion. Over 50% of marriages these days are performed by civil marriage celebrants rather than religious leaders/priests/etc. There is no religious requirement at all in legally recognised marriage, only the legal contractual requirements and government forms. Most religious celebrants insist on both people converting to their religion before they’d perform a ceremony, which is why civil celebrants perform more than 50% of most marriages. You’re also allowed to marry if you’re an atheist / non-religious. Religion is completely irrelevant to marriage.
Marriage in Australia is not about love. Controversial I know, but if it was about love then everyone would be allowed to marry the person they love.
One common idiotic cry from those opposed to equality is “They can still marry, they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex”. My first thought when I hear this line is usually along the lines of “I’m sorry you’re in an unhappy marriage with someone you do not love, but that’s no reason to force a loveless marriage on everyone else”.
That is precisely what people are suggesting when making this horrible and cruel argument. They’re wanting non-hetero people to have loveless marriages. They are denying them the ability to have a marriage based on love. If those in charge of the laws are so against marriage equality, it means only one thing: Love is, sadly, completely irrelevant to marriage.
There’s only two things I can figure out marriage in Australia is about: convenience/cost savings and discrimination.
Marriage is about convenience and cost savings. Convenience of benefits afforded to married couples when it comes to tax savings, family benefits, health benefits etc. There’s many luxuries still not afforded to default or defacto couples nor people with civil unions.
Marriage is about discrimination. You can thank our ex-Prime Minister lil’ jonny howard for that. He changed the definition of marriage in 2004, introducing lines that specifically talk about one man and one woman, including certain hurtful and hateful sentences that must be said word for word by the celebrant.
Marriage means the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
These changes discriminate quite blatantly against a certain subsets of the population. They turn marriage from something that was simply not available to non-heterosexuals, into an institution that actually specifically promotes discrimination against non-heterosexuals.
These clauses both verbal and in the contract, and lil’ jonny howards rushing the amendments through parliament absolutely disgusted me.
To me, marriage should not be about discrimination nor about convenience, but those are the only things I can see that it is about under the current legal definitions in Australia.
What marriage should be about, is love. It should be a symbol of the bond you feel towards someone, a symbol of the unity you feel with them, the oneness you feel with them.
When these laws were introduced in 2004 I made a vow, and it’s one I stand by to this day. For as long as marriage in Australia is an institution that actively promotes discrimination, I cannot condone it and I will not be a part of it. Even getting engaged is something that I personally will not even idly consider until such a time as marriage equality, true marriage equality, becomes a reality.
Edit (2016-12-06): If you’re wondering if this means I see other people’s marriage as support of discrimination, let me just clarify that I most certainly do not.
I’m well aware that many other people choose to simply ignore that line, pretend it wasn’t said, or as demonstrated in this article go to lengths to have the legally required line muted, drowned out, not heard, or publicly denounced in the same breath.
That’s brilliant, it really is. Even those who simply say quietly to themselves “this legal definition isn’t what my marriage is about – my marriage is about X”. People who do that have my full support and love.
But I can’t do that. I can’t ignore the legal definition. I can’t in good mind sign my name to it. That’s why I made this vow in 2004, and stand by it in 2016.