It’s exactly one week to our wedding, and I couldn’t be more excited. We had a final rehearsal with the celebrant last night, and it was difficult to keep the grin off my face.
Feeling good about marriage this week.
Which is one reason why I’ll be attending the Marriage Equality Rally in Melbourne tomorrow, Saturday 13th August at 1pm. (It’s also in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide.)
I might not particularly enjoy attending political rallies, but sometimes they’re necessary. And if gay and lesbian people have to keep fighting for the same rights that I enjoy, I have a responsibility to stand with them at least once a year and let the politicians know that there is increasing support for an end to this unjustified discrimination, and it’s not going to just go away.
There’s one other thing everyone should do to register their demand that equality happen now, not in ten years – talk to your MP. I went and spoke with Kevin Andrews yesterday (yes, that Kevin Andrews) as a constituent and we had a forthright exchange of views on the subject. Obviously I wasn’t going to persuade one of the main proponents of Howard’s 2004 changes to the Marriage Act to suddenly support equality – I’m a decent advocate, but not Jesus Christ – but it was useful to see how someone who’s not an idiot (and he’s not an idiot) defends their opposition to equality. (And kudos to him – he was prepared to debate the issue with me for an hour, though it was obvious that neither of us was going to be agreeing on the subject.)
Andrews was not putting a religious argument. (Which surprised me.) Nor was he trying to argue that gay parents are lesser parents. (Which surprised me.) What it boiled down to for Andrews, essentially, was that the government’s only role in marriage is upholding its role in keeping the parents of children together for the benefit of the child, using marriage as “education” about “an ideal”, and if gay people can get married, when their relationships are in the main not about children (unlike heterosexual people, where infertile marriages are in Andrews’ mind the exception), it uncouples marriage from procreation in people’s minds and will reduce the importance of marriage for those heterosexual people about to have children.
Obviously he couldn’t explain how that would happen. Couples would really say “hey, I was about to get married but now that gays can do it what’s the point”? Well, no – but yes. “If people say marriage is not an exclusive domain of a man and a woman in the way in which they’ve always understood it… There will be a cultural shift over time,” he said. “Overall people will say what’s the point of getting married, because there’s nothing about getting married that really means very much.”
Which seems a bit weird coming from a married person. All the main benefits that he sees in getting married disappear if the gays can do it too? Seriously?
Andrews conceded that if their parents making a marriage commitment is a positive for children, then it’s also a positive for the children of gay parents. He conceded there are many gay parents now, and no matter what he does to the Marriage Act he can’t stop them having kids. He conceded that there are many fine gay parents. He conceded that he didn’t have any evidence of a drop in support for marriage because of gay marriage where it’s been legislated – but said he thinks this negative effect will be noticed over twenty or thirty years (conveniently beyond any time that he would realistically still be in Parliament).
I’ll go back in five years and ask him if he’s seen any evidence of his feared destruction of marriage in any of the countries with equality yet.
I pointed out to him that if anything taints marriage, it’s the present discrimination – it certainly taints it for me, to the point where we will awkwardly have to insert a line after the monitum at our wedding next week expressing our wish that the present situation be reformed sooner rather than later. Andrews didn’t think that many would be discouraged from marriage on that basis, which is probably right – although ironic, since he still thinks that many would be discouraged from marriage if the opposite was true. (I suspect the truth is that most marrying couples are thinking about their own relationship, not the legal status of gay marriages, and that that would be true after equality as well.)
Anyway, we’re getting there. If an architect and prominent supporter of the discrimination (he refuses to concede that’s what it is, except in the purest sense of the word, but can’t really present a coherent argument as to how it isn’t) is only left with a vague sense of impending doom as an argument – a vague sense of impending doom for which he can’t give any examples or anything but the most circular reasoning – the edifice of discrimination must be tottering about on its last legs.
It’s time we pushed it over. Marriage is about commitment, not prejudice. It’s time the law reflected that ideal.
See you there tomorrow.