Why is marriage equality even an issue?

Labor Backbencher John Murphy reckons Aussies don’t really want same-sex marriage. Don’t like that view? Join the Greens, he advises. After reading a news article about the comments Australian Backbencher John Murphy made regarding same sex marriage, I wrote this piece for Australian website SameSame.com.au last week:

Even though the support for gay marriage and equality based on many polls in Australia is overwhelmingly high, asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold a referendum for voters to decide whether to allow it or not is really just fundamentally highlighting the problem in this whole thing.

That the issue of marriage equality is still seen as one worth questioning or contesting is an issue in itself. The fact that there is even the need or reason to vote on it at all, or even have the discussion, is what really boggles the mind; it’s a no-brainer.

If two people, one from Australia and from New Zealand fall in love and want to get married but are told they cannot do so because they come from the same Continent, would that be fair? No. However, if these people happen to be of the same sex, suddenly it’s okay to discriminate against them and deny them those same basic human rights?

I’ve never felt particularly strongly on gay marriage and marriage equality from a place of personal motivation because I can’t help but think my own nuptials would end up being like that scene in Sex and the City 2 with Liza showing up and singing and dancing to Beyonce songs, although it would more likely be Lady Gaga or Kylie (I know, how cliché).

However, I do appreciate the need and desire of anyone in the LGBT community wanting having the option to commit to the person they love in the same legal manner as everyone else. Otherwise, if we are brought up with the notion that the ultimate commitment when you are in love is to get married, then what kind of message does it send to young gay people when they learn they cannot do that? That’s where those feelings of difference come from, it’s what fuels the bullying, the denial, the identity crisis and sometimes suicides. It makes being anything other than heterosexual something that makes you feel as though you are a freak or abnormal (aside from the obvious feelings that come from knowing that you’re in a minority as it is). Essentially, I believe in treating people equally and as long as they’re not harming you or others, then what is the big problem here?

So often, those who oppose the law being changed say that it’s harming or damaging the sanctity of marriage and their religion if gay people are allowed to marry because the Bible says that marriage is between one man and one woman. But we are talking about marriage under the law people, not marriage according to the Bible and religion – no matter what happens with changes to the law, that’s not going to change those words or force everyone to tear those pages out of the Bible, so what exactly is there to be afraid of? If marriage is really about love and commitment, how is the gender of those in that marriage any different, according to the law?

Even if you consider marriage to be a religious right of passage, marriage under the law was originally something influenced and put in place as a result of a religious stance and the law can be changed, and in my view it should never be controlled by religion. After all, if the Bible was truly the law, then eating shellfish would be considered criminal, wouldn’t it? For the record, I don’t eat shellfish because they creep me out, but I don’t think that means others shouldn’t have the right to eat it. You see where I’m going with this, right? I should stress that many Christians I know are supportive and accepting of the gay community, so anyone religious is not automatically an enemy or opposition no matter how it may sometimes seem to be portrayed in the mainstream media.

“People are questioning why we are going down this path,” MP John Murphy added of the gay marriage debate. “There are so many important things the Labor Party has to be dealing with. They do not include same sex marriage.’’

Exactly John, it shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place. It’s an equality and human rights issue that no so-called developed country should be denying as a right to its citizens, and while we’re on the topic of the equality, the same goes for adoption too. Oh yes, I went there.

The question being asked should not be about what someone is, it should be about who they are and if they are in love, they should be able to legally commit in the same way as everyone else. The same thing applies in the case of parenting, it doesn’t matter whether someone is a single parent, two parents of the same sex or what is considered the more traditional mum and dad environment; what matters above all is if that child is going to grow up in a safe and loving home.

If marriage equality is now considered good enough for somewhere like New York City, one of the biggest centres of international trade and commerce in the world, then surely it has to be good enough for other countries who seek to do business there and be considered as competitive and equally as progressive?

“Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice” ~ Jules Renard.

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About Chaz Harris

Chaz Harris is a writer and award-winning filmmaker based in Wellington, New Zealand.
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4 Responses to Why is marriage equality even an issue?

  1. Stacey says:

    I thought Laborites were supposed to be liberals? What a load of twaddle! The world is so full fo hate, chaos and reading that hate crimes increased by 13% in the United States alone in 2010, it makes me more convinced that people need to put more love into the universe. If you want to get married, get married! Also read a marvellous sign the other day, “If you don’t like gay marriage, blame straight people. They keep making gay babies.” P. S. Please choose Kylie. I’m dying to do The Locomotion live:):)

  2. Cesca says:

    A reasoned and insightful article, Chaz.

    (Am just catching up on your blog’s today and listening to Supermodel for the first time : ) )

  3. Cesca says:

    Argh! That should be “blogs”, ha!

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