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Sunday
Sep242017

#VoteYesAustralia

10 years ago, Lydia and I got married. Thankfully, we had to right to marry for love, with a secular wedding based on equality and mutual respect. You know, not traditional marriage at all. We went to Canada to get married, where the law recognises love as the highest value:

"Our bride and groom have brought us amidst the beauty of these mountains to celebrate the peace and joy that they have found together. Let us gather our thoughts and good wishes as we witness and share in their formal joining in the legal state of matrimony. The state of matrimony has matured as our society has matured. From an ancient tradition, marriage has developed into an expression of joy between any two people sharing love, respect and understanding. Our couple have found true happiness in each other, and with joy they have entered a life-long companionship and will comfort and support each other with gentleness and strength. In marriage, we give ourselves freely and generously into the hands of the one we love, and in doing so, each of us receives the love and trust of the other as our most precious gift. Today our bride and groom proclaim their love to the world."

Disgracefully, Australians do not yet have this right. There has been a clear majority in favour of same-sex marriage for over 10 years. Unfortunately, the country as a whole has not voted with its convictions, with a parliament substantially more religious and conservative than the people. Yet even the right-wing Liberal party, dead against anything progressive or inclusive, has known better than to campaign openly against LGBT rights in Australia, preferring to obfuscate and delay.

The most recent tactic, used by the very disappointing Malcolm Turnbull, has been to insist that a referendum is needed to change the constitution to allow same-sex marriage. Except, this morphed into a plebiscite, since the religious right wanted to vote against even if the country voted for. The argument is legally rubbish - the Constitution of Australia does not need to be changed, as ruled on by the High Court of Australia, so this has now degraded into a non-compulsory, non-binding postal survey. Exactly like all the surveys that have consistently shown majority support for same-sex marriage for ten years, except this one is costing $120 million.
 

Oh, and the other important difference? The right-wing has created an situation where the vitriol held by a minority of Australians is now publically on display. By holding up the human rights of the LGBT community to a public survey, every hate-filled venomous group feels free to spew bile in public. Knowing from past examples that public votes on LGBT rights led to increased homophobic attacks and LGBT youth suicide, it is utterly contemptible for the Australian right-wing to run this useless and unnecessary postal survey.

That said, the survey is happening, so of course we are voting. My postal survey came in today, so we had a family discussion with Hayden.

"Hayden, in Belgium you can marry anyone that you love. So a mummy can marry a daddy, or a mummy can marry another mummy. But in Australia, the law doesn't let mummies marry mummies, or daddies marry daddies. Do you think we should change that law?"

"Why is Australia being mean? Yes, we should change that law".

Pretty straight-forward yes vote there. So, for the children, #VoteYes. It is not a difficult question, and that is before even going into all the heart-wrenching stories of gay couples suffering the consequences that being unmarried can entail during situations such as hospitalisation and death. Please, #VoteYesAustralia

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