Dear Prime Minister
Born into the same country as me, my friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbours all carry the same rights as I do. They also carry the same responsibilities: pay taxes, obey the law, vote if registered, park only where permitted. If we don’t live up to our responsibilities the state can punish us with a fine, with community service or with curtailment of our liberties via incarceration.
However, if it turns out two of those friends or neighbours wish to commit to each other and they’re the same gender, their civil rights are immediately & summarily curtailed – indeed, without having perpetrated a crime, broken a law or committed any offense against the state or any private entity. Simply by virtue of their unchosen gender they & their partner cannot identify as a married couple, cannot claim spousal privilege in court and cannot claim any of the other benefits given by the state to straight couples. There is not even any avenue of appeal following this a priori denial of basic rights. The problem lies in the assumption that we’ll all grow up to be heterosexual; when we fall in love and if we decide to enter a commitment it will be with someone of the opposite sex. For the people that turn out not to meet that expectation, they soon discover they’ve been denied a right, in advance, that they were ostensibly born with.
People on all points on the political spectrum rise to defend this appalling state practice of summarily denying law-abiding citizens their civil rights – indeed, their birthright – due only to their sexual orientation; due, in fact, only to their gender. For even if you grant, for the sake of argument, the extreme liberty that people “choose” their orientation or that homosexuality is a “fetish” or “kink”, the fact remains that people nonetheless do not & can not choose who they develop feelings for. That people rise so readily to defend this denial of rights based on gender, which is something people definitely can not choose, speaks volumes as to the distance this country, this alleged liberal democracy, has yet to travel. Then again, it’s still within living memory that we denied indigenous citizens the right to vote and took their children from them, that the state murdered criminals, that young men were conscripted into an aggressive war waged by one country against another that posed us no threat and that homosexual acts were in fact illegal, so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising.
Nevertheless I have yet to hear anything apporaching a convincing or even coherent argument as to why my friends and neighbours have their rights reduced, as if convicted in advance of an unknown offence, simply because the love of their life shares their gender.
What people against gay marriage are telling gay citizens is this: “Your love is not equal to our love. You are not equal to us. You rights shall therefore not be equal to ours.” People for marriage equality demand no less than the strongest possible argument to back this point of view; failing that, the immediate dissolution of any & all language & laws which forbid the legal commitment of two consenting adults.
I am genuinely interested to hear a well-presented and logical argument opposing gay marriage, so long as it isn’t a tired appeal to tradition or to sanctity or to sectarian religious belief – I believe I’ve heard and rejected them, as have most liberal-minded & thoughtful people. I want to hear precisely why allowing my friends, neighbours, co-workers and millions who I’ll never know to be legally married and to be properly recognised as such, if they so choose, could possibly be damaging or devaluing to the institution of marriage or to society at large.
Further, if there’s nothing but a mere semantic difference between the much-vaunted “civil union” or “civil partnership” and a proper marriage, why keep the distinction at all? Why force people wanting commit to each other to settle for “just as good as the real thing” or “separate but equal”? Such obvious yet unnecessary division just serves to reinforce the view that the two arrangements are indeed not the same and therefore the people entering into them are not the same and not as deserving as people who had the good fortune to fall in love with an opposite-sex partner.
To reiterate: my friends, neighbours, co-workers and fellow voters who are born (or sworn) Australian citizens carry the same rights and responsibilities as I do. However, as soon as it becomes apparent that they’re not heterosexual, the state deems it appropriate to deny them the right that myself and everyone else gets to keep, as long as we stay “not gay”: the right to marry, to be recognised as “married” and to take advantage of the benefits married couples are granted without question (and all-too-often take for granted). We, the people of Australia, demand and deserve an explanation as to why this state of affairs should continue.
Voter # 3493897875
(that’s not actually how I signed it)
EDIT: Agh! Normally I’m OCD about spellchecking and proofreading for clarity; this time I sent off a letter strewn with potholes and speedbumps. I really should’ve sub-edited the bollocks off of this thing before sending it to the mighty J-Gill, but for some reason I wanted it out the door pronto. Apologies to anyone who read the crappy version 🙂
Double agh! It would help if my ketstrokes actually registered. I’m starting to notice that I may be typing faster than my keyboard can keep up. That or I’m typing too softly – this is a killer gaming keyboard and is built to withstand rage quits 🙂 As such it’s not the most sensitive piece of kit!