An Open Letter to the 'No' Voters
$122 million. That's how much this plebiscite is going to cost. But why? Why do we need it? Why does the public get to vote on homosexual marriage when they didn't have to vote on heterosexual marriage, the rise in legal marriage age, or interracial marriage?
This is an open letter from me, a 'yes' voter, to the 'no' voters
I'm writing to you today because of the Marriage Equality Plebiscite our government has decided to run. I am not here to demonise you or abuse you, though a lot of hate has been spread in the name of this plebiscite. I am here to answer some of the main concerns you voice in your arguments against equality. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that you have every right to choose what to do in your life however your ‘no’ vote is taking away my right to choose what I do in my life.
I wouldn't label myself as a ‘lesbian’ but my sexuality is not the point of this discussion. I just wanted to let you know that before I tell you that I have had a girlfriend. She was beautiful and I loved her, just like I assume you love your partner. If our relationship had lasted, I would've married her. I have friends in same sex relationships who wish to get married. What I'm trying to say is your vote removes our right to decide. Our right, as a human, a person of sound mind and legal age, to choose to marry the person we love.
Before I go into addressing the arguments against Marriage Equality, I'll address the number one argument I hear against homosexuality as a whole: that it is not natural. I'm sorry to inform you that it is actually very natural; it can be seen in over 450 different animal species from bats to big cats, and has often ensured the survival of the species because if heterosexual parents in these species are killed by predators, their young will be cared for by the homosexual couples. The reason other heterosexual partners do not adopt the orphaned offspring is because they are busy trying to have a baby of their own. Now I know that we are not wild animals and we can ‘resist our animalistic urges’ we need to remember that as a species, we embrace many things that are unnatural such as cars, air conditioning, and glasses. None of these things exist naturally, and yet no one is standing on street corners trying to shame people for turning the air conditioner on when summer comes around.
The first argument I'm going to address is the argument that homosexual marriage will threaten traditional marriage. I'm sorry to inform you that what you view as ‘traditional marriage’ has changed a lot, especially in the past 100 years. It wasn't until the late 19th century that marrying for love became common, before then marriage was more of a contract where the woman was part of a business transaction. The father of the bride would seek out a husband for his daughter who would elevate the family’s status in wealth, in the community, or in business. His daughter would be part of the payment for whatever he got out of the transaction. This practice was common from the Ancient Greek and Roman times all the way into today. While it was less common in the 20th Century, there are stories of it happening in some countries today. And the motive behind marriage is not the only thing that has changed in recent years; while child marriage is illegal now, it was allowed before the marriage act was amended in 1991 when the legal ages were raised to 18 for both genders Interracial marriage was illegal in Australia before 1959 and it wasn't until August 2004 when the marriage act was changed to specify that marriage was between one man and one woman. Before then the marriage act was suspiciously gender neutral though there were other cultural factors that prevented homosexual marriage.
I have heard many people protesting that homosexual marriage would be detrimental to Australian youth. “Think of the children” they cry when they see two people of the same gender holding hands. I've divided this argument into two categories. One being protests against homosexuality being taught in schools (think safe school program), and the other being a concern over children who are adopted by same sex couples.
I would like to address the education one first: talk to any person in the LGBT community and you will most likely hear tales of bullying from a young age because they were ‘different’. Whether they knew they were LGBT from a young age or not, many people in the community suffered from a young age from verbal or physical abuse from school mates, teachers, and family members. It is very probable that marriage equality will prevent thousands of suicides a year and if your reaction to that is something along the lines of ‘but they’re only homosexuals’ then maybe its time to stop pretending that your ‘debate’ is anything but ‘respectful’. Things like the ‘safe schools’ program creates a space where these children as well as children who are not a part of the LGBT community to understand what being LGBT actually means as most abuse stems from ignorance and parroting what they've heard from their parents or the media. If you think that simply learning about things like homosexuality will turn your child gay, I have some news for you: I have been bombarded by heterosexual media and education since the first day I opened my eyes and I am in no way straight. At all. Because sexuality doesn't work like that. And if the thought of your child being held accountable for any bullying they perpetuate worries you, perhaps you need to re-educate yourself on things like ‘political correctness’ and ‘freedom of speech’ and what they actually mean. If you stick around, I'll get to that.
Most of the people against programs like ‘safe schools’ seem to be Christians. I only point this out because while they fret over their children being educated on important things like their body and their mind and the fact that they have more say in the way they present themselves than they think, I didn't see any of these people say a word when the four year royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse. Not a single word. Their own religious institutions were going down in flames in that commission and they said nothing. It seems that their concern for 'the children' extends only to those who may, in the future, be exposed to homosexual education/raised by homosexual parents. That's what I'd like to know. Why this? Why is this the only time when you felt it necessary to campaign so hard for the children? From the royal commission to the children locked away for years in immigration detention. Why this issue? Because it's really hard to believe this is not about homophobia with that deafening silence on every other issue.
The other part of “think of the children” is the thought that children raised by same sex couples will somehow suffer because they don't have “a mother and a father”. This is what the argument is based on. It ignores single parents completely and glosses over the fact that same sex couples generally don't have the ability to accidentally get pregnant. In reality, about 90% of same sex couples need to go through the complex and draining, often expensive, path of adoption, fostering, or surrogacy. Some couples may be able to simply rely on sperm donation but even then the process costs time, patience, and money. All this ensures that nearly every child brought into a same sex family is wanted. The same cannot be said for children of heterosexual couples. But all that aside, there has been quite a few investigations into this claim and time and time again, they found that children of same sex couples experience no negative effects. A lot of people seem to fear that children of same sex couples will suffer some kind of abuse but when pressed, the ‘abuse’ they are worried about actually seems to translate into “letting the child express themselves how they want and not judging the child on what they choose to do with their lives” essentially “unconditional love” which is what every child deserves.
An extension of the previous argument is the argument that “Marriage is for pro-creation”. Which is literally one of the most narrow minded things I've ever heard. Because people who cannot have children can get married, people who don't want to have children can get married. When people are applying for their marriage license there isn't a little thing at the bottom that says “if you don't have children after x amount of years, your marriage will be annulled” because that would be discrimination. (A little bit like your vote.)
The last argument I will address here is the claim that marriage equality is “A threat to religious freedom/freedom of speech”. Before I get into this, I feel like I need to translate the ‘politician speech’ because these things do not mean what ‘no’ voters seem to think it means. These words are used as a scaremongering tool by politicians to rile up the population against a “common enemy”, a method that's been utilized many time in many different countries. So:
Religious freedom: freedom to practice the religion you choose without fear of attack or discrimination. This does not mean you can force your religious beliefs on other people, nor does it excuse you for discriminating against other people
Freedom of speech: the freedom to say what you think (mostly about politics) without being arrested or hurt by police and other official services. It is not a freedom from consequence; when someone calls out your hate speech, it is not an attack on your freedom of speech but rather them utilising their freedom of speech to inform you that hate speech will not be tolerated.
And because it gets thrown around a lot in these arguments,
Political Correctness: being forced to treat minorities with the respect majorities demand from them. Meaning that hate speech and discriminatory behaviour based on things like race, gender, disability, appearance, class, or sexual orientation, is not ok. The dismantling of segregation is ‘political correctness’, allowing women to work is ‘political correctness’. When you boil it all down, PC Culture means ‘everyone gets treated with the same kindness and compassion’ and when you look at it that way maybe it's no surprise that the strongest opposers of ‘political correctness’ are generally white, and male. The people who have historically been at the top of the pile, with all the money and power. These people do not want to share their power and so they turn ‘being a decent human being’ into ‘an attack on everyday people’ as if they believe people involved in PC culture are going to storm the gates of parliament and behead everyone like the French and Russians did in their perspective revolutions. That's not going to happen.
So looking at all that, information that is usually labelled as ‘liberal nonsense’ or ‘feminist bullshit’, perhaps you can see that marriage equality will not affect you. It is simply providing everyone with the exact same rights. This is not about religion; religious organisations will still be able to choose who they wed. Though the support from religious communities such as Christian, Muslim, and others have been overwhelmingly positive, this is about personal choice. If your religion says that you cannot marry someone the same gender as you, then you cannot marry someone the same gender as you. But I can, because it is not my religion. Trying to force your religion on me is a breach of my human rights set forth by the the UN’s list of universal human rights (Article 16)
I know a lot of this seems like I'm attack you, and I apologise. I apologise because I cannot smile sweetly and speak kind words as you deny me the same rights that you already have. Did I get to vote on your marriage? No. Then why should you get any say in mine? As long as the couple is made up of two consenting, legal adults of sound mind, there should be nothing standing in their way. So I apologise that I cannot take this blatant act of disrespect, discrimination, and homophobia lying down. Please forgive me for speaking my mind as you speak your own. Forgive my pleas of love that you drown out with your hate. I am sorry. I am sorry that there is so much hatred, ignorance, and disrespect in your heart, that you cannot allow two people to marry simply because they are the same gender.