Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Gay Marriage - The next step in equality

In 100 years (or 50 years even) future generations will look back on the fight for homosexuals to have the right to marriage and wonder what all the fuss was about. We look back on slavery and limited rights for women and people of colour as shocking by today's standards. Same-sex marriage will be in the same league.

There are many arguments against same-sex marriage. Many say that the definition of marriage is 'between and man and a woman' and that it shouldn't be changed. Before the general acceptance of homosexuals in our society, that may have made sense, however times change as our society matures. These are simply words and these should not be an unbreakable barrier between inequality and equality.

Why not just allow civil unions? Because that is not equality. Separating the unions of hetero and homosexual couples is segregation. By that logic, maybe the gays shouldn't have first rights to seats on the bus either? Besides,"Will you civil union me?" doesn't have the same zing.

Won't someone please think of the children?! Ah yes. The purpose of marriage is to provide a stable upbringing for children and children need a mother and a father, etc, etc. Although I agree that male and female role models are important for children of both genders, exposure to these role models need not lie solely for the parents of the children. Many kids grow up in single parent households and become healthy, well-rounded adults.

But some arguments take it to another disturbing level. Recently, columnist Miranda Devine rather craftily criticised gay Senator Penny Wong and her partner's decision to have a child by indirectly blaming the London riots on the 'fatherless society' of young people leading to struggling, single-parent, misguided youths.
"Marriage is not just a private relationship: it is a social good. Collectively, the erosion of the institution of marriage, and the relegating of fathers to the sidelines, is destructive to society".
As if trying to lift the argument to higher levels of insanity, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said that his four daughters would be affected if same-sex marriage was allowed.
"We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband, and I want that to happen for them. I don't want any legislator to take that right away from me".
Ok Barney. If I was one of your daughters, I would be blushing immensely at that comment. First you think that they need a strong secure husband for protection, and second, you believe that it is your right that your daughters get married. Off with the min mins again I see.

In the end, legalising same-sex marriage shouldn't be an issue for anyone other than homosexual couples. No one owns the concept of marriage. And in no way will it diminish the rights or symbolism that marriage has for other couples. If people believe it will lessen the specialness of marriage for themselves and their partner, then they need to take a hard look at what is most important in their lives. The exclusivity of marriage or their marriage itself.

It makes you wonder, that in a first-world country like Australia, which appears to be socially-progressive, multicultural and tolerant of others, has such trouble in this step towards greater equality. We are all human and are just trying to live our lives as happily as we can. If it doesn't harm anyone else, what's the problem? Just because it is, doesn't mean that it should be.

Live and let live.

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