Love is powerful. It can never truly be defined nor explained in its deepest and truest meaning. Love is a human need and a fundamental right. Recognising same sex marriage in Australia is about protecting the human right for all to share in love with equality.
Same sex couples want to marry for the exact same reasons heterosexual couples do. To be able to legally and publically express and acknowledge the love they share for one another. To share the same entitlements in their relationship as heterosexual couples presently receive. Equal opportunity for all people to marry provides a sense of legitimacy and security so that children are better protected legally. It also gives families a feeling of stability and acceptance within the community.
For far too long, gay and lesbian couples have been unfairly discriminated against. They have been excluded from the right to the institution of marriage, which has violated their right to completely equal legal treatment. This exclusion by the Australian Government sends out a message to people that discriminating on the basis of some ones sexual orientation is acceptable. This in turn creates prejudices which can great impact negatively on people’s lives in so many different areas. This discrimination affects people’s families, school life and careers. We only have to look at the recent shocking behaviour in Australia’s Defence Force to see that hate, ignorance and prejudice is still alive and thriving in the work place.
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard’s view on this issue is deeply disappointing and most confusing. Gillard does not support the legalisation of gay marriage and claims that under her prime ministership the policies on same sex marriage will not change. Gillard has said “I think that there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future” She says she believes that the Marriage Act and marriage in general should remain between a “man and a woman”, claiming that her personal stance against gay marriage is due to her conservative upbringing. Of course, she is also a confirmed atheist who has decided to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money into a School Chaplaincy Program; clearly, she is no stranger to hypocrisy.
Even more baffling is that her hypocrisy is not even opportunistic, as it is almost certainly adding to her current dismal unpopularity amongst voters. A Galaxy Poll earlier this month, commissioned by the lobby group Australian Marriage Equality, showed that a clear majority (60 per cent) of Australians support equal marriage laws in this country. Indeed, 75 per cent of respondents said that it is inevitable that Australian laws will change to allow same-sex marriage.
A positive step forward for change in Australia’s prehistoric and unequal marriage laws has also occurred in the State of Queensland. The Queensland Labor State Conference passed a motion to introduce equal rights for Australian couples wishing to marry.
Similar motions have been passed by ALP counterparts in South Australia and Tasmania, with Western Australia expected to show similar support in their State Conference this weekend and New South Wales to follow suit in their July Conference.
Queensland premier Anna Bligh has welcomed her State ALP Conference’s decision by confirming her support for marriage equality “as an issue of basic human rights and fairness”, adding that she will champion a push on the issue. Australian Marriage Equality lobbyist Alex Greenwich has welcomed Bligh’s support saying:
“As national ALP president, Anna Bligh’s leadership in advocating for full marriage equality will be key to delivering the result that most Labor voters expect the ALP National Conference to deliver.”
Same sex marriage will indeed be a hot topic of debate at the ALP’s National Conference in December. With marriage equality campaigners planning a national day of action ahead of the conference on August 13th, Julia Gillard faces a state and people’s revolt. The mass rally is planned to draw attention to out-dated views still held about GLBTI people.
Marriage is recognised as the global language of love. All people, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, deserve the equal right to partake in the sacred institution of marriage. It should not be up to the Government or out-dated ignorant religious fanatics to dictate who we love or choose to spend the rest of our lives with. By standing between people in love, Gillard appears to be playing a dangerous game.