In Which I Mount A Soapbox About Marriage Equality

The following was left here (http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/senatesubmission.htm) by me:

Dear Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee,

This is my submission to your inquiry into marriage equality. I fully endorse the submission made by Australian Marriage Equality in favour of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.

It’s time to stop deferring to the ignorance, hatred and unfounded fears that those opposed to equality are spreading and have been spreading now for decades. It’s time to embrace the reality that gay people deserve the same rights as heterosexual people – equal rights, not “special” rights as the various anti-equality lobbies would have you believe. Time to embrace the reality that allowing gay people the same rights as their heterosexual neighbours will not devalue or threaten heterosexual marriages or families. Time to embrace the reality that a family need only contain people that love and trust and rely on one another and not just the “one man, one woman plus their biological children ONLY” model! Time to realise that while tradition has its place and in various forms is important to us all it should not be a yardstick by which legislation is decided and not a commandment set in stone, immutable and inviolate.

It’s time to recognise that if a gay citizen is subject to the same laws and charged with the same responsibilities as a straight citizen, that gay citizen should also be entitled to the same benefits and privileges of being a citizen of Australia as their straight neighbours. It’s time to recognise the current ridiculous & unacceptable situation: that at birth we are all granted a set of civil and legal rights, such as the right to wed our love, raise a family and ensure that family’s protection should we be incapacitated – however these rights can be spuriously and unjustly denied once a person discovers their sexual identity. Not because our government actively legislates against equality, but because they refuse to show even the minimum of courage required to end their passive resistance to it.

It’s time that gay people were extended the same rights that straight people are born with, take for granted and have never had to fight their own fellow citizens for! It’s time that words like “tradition” and “family” and “marriage” were looked at with a critical, objective eye and in the context of a modern, 21st century democracy, not with hushed religious awe and not through rose-coloured glasses of nostalgia. It’s also past time that those words were wrested from the hands of a certain extremist minority who see them as their property, bestowed upon them from on high; a minority who despite their small numbers and scant public support are making great efforts and expending great resources to control and dictate the terms of this important debate.

It’s time Australia had the courage to stand up to fear-mongering, extremist religious pressure and flat-out bigotry. It took us until 1968 to hand the original inhabitants of this land the right to vote; will it take us another 160 years to grant gay people what should be the most basic right of all – the right to marry and have a secure family?

It’s long past time to understand – and recognise officially – that in the phrase “gay people”, the word “people” is the one we and our government should focus on.

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