I cast my ballot in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey this week. Any of you that know me well will know that politics is one of the things that makes my world tick. I am the person that looks forward to election times and thinks that politics is always an appropriate topic of conversation. I consider myself to be quite a conservative person and I am a staunchly conservative voter. I like people with opinions and I dislike the “all politicians are assholes” people even more than I dislike the people that vote Greens.
As such an opinionated person, it will surprise no one that I have some strong feelings regarding marriage law. It may however surprise some of you to learn what these feelings are.
I was once on the No side of this debate. I had no concrete reasons for this, just a feeling that marriage was important and changing it was risky. I wondered about the ramifications for family law, where children of same-sex couples might be biologically the child of only one parent. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I had misgivings on this whole same-sex marriage thing. Now, a few years later and after much soul searching, many heated discussions, and a few life lessons, my feelings have shifted.
The main catalyst for this shift came as a direct result of my own relationship. One of my friendship groups is a bunch of absolutely wonderful, caring, loving, Christian ladies. We all grew up and attended Sunday School together and have been firm friends ever since. The dynamic of this group changed for me when I moved in with Elliot. I was content and completely happy in my own choices. Elliot and I were in love and committed to each other, yet I felt that our relationship was always the elephant in the room. With one of the girls recently married in the proper Christian way, I often felt that my relationship was somehow inferior to hers; sometimes in the eyes of our friends but always in the eyes of God. It was isolating, and I began to distance myself from my faith. I didn’t want any part of any institution that could not recognise that Elliot and our life together was the greatest blessing that God had ever given me. It took a very tearful conversation with an incredibly modern Lutheran pastor to heal the hurt that this situation had caused in my heart, and it made me wonder; is this how gay people feel as we debate their relationships? Do they feel somehow inferior to their peers, hurt and excluded from society, and angry at the institution that refused to see the value in their relationship?
Some months later, I watched as Cooper’s brewery was slammed and boycotted over their involvement in a discussion on same-sex marriage. In a video featuring a Cooper’s Light beer, two MPs talked openly and politely about their views on same-sex marriage. Tim Wilson, a Liberal MP who is gay and a strong supporter of same-sex marriage argued that marriage and family are the building blocks of society, and that you cannot strengthen a society by excluding people from its most fundamental institutions. It was an idea that resonated with me, an idea that belonged in the public debate, and an idea that may have swayed many conservative thinkers. I was dismayed at how quickly the video was condemned in what I believe was a huge own-goal for the Yes side.
Since the debate of same-sex marriage first entered the public sphere, I have had many discussions with people about the issue. There are many reasons that people are voting no. One of the most common arguments is about the rights of children and the sanctity of the institution of marriage. These are not arguments that I can easily accept. Australia’s divorce rate sits around 30%, family law is an ever-expanding profession, ‘conscious de-coupling’ is all the rage in Hollywood, and that’s without mentioning reality tv shows like Married at First Sight and Seven Year Switch. There is often much concern for the rights of children, however, in my experience, children often suffer immensely through unhappy marriages and divorce. Still, we do not question the institute of marriage as a whole, just whether or not two men or two women should be allowed to enter into it.
One thing that does concern me is that by supporting same-sex marriage, I’m giving tacit support to the extremist element of the rainbow movement- the radical gender theorists, the people that believe that a 5-year-old should be taught about gender fluidity, and those that think that Safe Schools is a great idea. It concerns me that by the time my children get to school there will be no such thing as boys and girls, and hyper-political correctness will rule. It worries me, but I’m willing to run that risk. I believe that gay people should be allowed to marry the person that they love, and so I am choosing to trust that the government will change the marriage act to allow those couples to marry, and still keep radical gender theory the hell out of our classrooms. I also strongly believe that a Coalition government has the best chance of implementing same-sex marriage, while also legislating to protect religious freedoms, the rights of parents to guide their children according to their own religion or culture, and to keep safe schools in the bin where it belongs.
For me, same-sex marriage has been one of the most polarising and damaging debates imaginable. It has come between families, friends and in my opinion, has fractured not just coalition voters, but the Coalition themselves. The government’s flaccid stance on the issue has forced centre and swinging voters into the hands of Labor and the Greens, and has not stopped far-right voters running directly into the arms of Hanson and Bernardi. Without legislating in favour of same-sex marriage, the Coalition cannot win the next election – and if we wish to see religious freedoms protected, and Safe Schools defeated, we need another term of Coalition Government.
I cast my ballot in the Australia Marriage Law Postal Survey this week, and I voted yes. I voted yes because the thought of “Prime Minister Bill Shorten” scares me far more than same-sex marriage ever could. I voted yes because I don’t believe that gay marriages will be any more ‘damaging’ to the rights of children than straight marriages already are. But mostly I voted yes because I believe that the love between two men, or two women, is no lesser than the love between myself and Elliot, and if they want to be included in this shonky but precious institution of marriage, we should let them.