PUBLISHED ON 16/04/13 ON HITZ247
How will future generations view our inaction on marriage equality?
The Australian society we know today seems to be on the brink of change, with the public supporting the change for marriage equality now more than ever. However, the nation’s politicians seem and remain unwilling to take action on the key area of social reform that needs to be addressed in the upcoming political election. Due to the Government’s failure to respond to the public outcry for equality, Australia’s progression is being left behind.
Rodney Croome, the national director of Australian Marriage Equality, trusts that in 10 to 20 years marriage equality will become “part of the social fabric”. He believes Australians will look back at the current state of marriage inequality and question why it has taken so long to address. “It will seem as antiquated as not allowing women to vote,” says Croome.
Our generation has grown up hearing stories from parents and grandparents about the injustices that existed in their eras; marriage inequality is an injustice we will tell our children and grandchildren about. There can be parallels drawn between same-sex couples and other marginalised groups in Australia’s scandalous history. Women and Aboriginals have both been denied equal treatment before the law, just as the LGBT community is now experiencing.
Until recently, women were forbidden from working in male dominated fields, unable to make decisions about their own body and lacking the right to equal pay. Similar to this, Australian Aboriginals were dispossessed of almost every basic human right; they faced hardships from bloodbaths and oppression, to being stripped of their land rights and even their children. Aboriginals weren’t legally considered people until the referendum of 1967, which recognised them as Australian citizens, rather than native wildlife. How is it that people can even be considered “native wildlife”?
Both women and Aboriginals are today in a more favourable position in society than during earlier generations, and it is unfathomable to think that they were once so entirely repressed. When we look back in disbelief at the way we treated our fellow Australians, I can’t help but wonder: will our children view our mistreatment of same-sex couples with the same incredulous outrage? In other countries the rights for the LGBT community are facing more serious issues than marriage equality. So many countries have embraced marriage equality, though there are still places where harsh penalties exist for homosexuality; some even enforcing corporal punishment and the death penalty.
This sort of response to homosexuality, echoed by many others worldwide, is both unreasoned and narrow-minded.It is imperative that Australia distances itself as much as possible from this outdated manner of thought. Although the incapability to marry is not comparable to the death penalty, it still shows intolerance towards same-sex couples and a mindset that they are inferior to heterosexuals. They are all people.
The 2012 Galaxy Poll on marriage equality revealed that a majority of Australians showed their acceptance of same-sex couples: 64% of Australians supported marriage equality, including 61% of married people. This display of public support demonstrates that change is what Australia wants, so what’s stopping the change from occurring? More than 50% of the population believes it should be changed.“Public opinion is not the barrier,” said Croome. “It’s that politicians that need to start responding to the public opinion.”
The failure to legalise same-sex marriage signifies that homophobia is acceptable in Australia, but this isn’t acceptable! How can we explain to young people that everyone is equal if our government does not promote the same message? Are we a forward-thinking country or stuck in the past?
When gay marriage is legalised in Australia, the burden will be on us to explain the inequalities faced by the LGBT community to the next generation. Three-quarters of Australians believe that marriage equality is “inevitable”, but Croome says we need to be careful when using this label as it implies that no action is necessary.
It is time for Australia’s politicians to stop wavering on the issue and ultimately acknowledge that our laws no longer reflect the views and values of our society! Come on Politicians, you are representations of Australians! Are you truly representing us?
- Marriage titles to remain for same sex couples (radionz.co.nz)
- French Anti-Gay Activists Promise Blood Over Marriage Equality Law (lezgetreal.com)
- Abbott feels the heat on gay marriage (bigpondnews.com)
- Abbott under pressure on gay marriage (bigpondnews.com)
- Hell Freezes Over As Glenn Beck Endorses Marriage Equality (VIDEO) (addictinginfo.org)
- Abbott under pressure on gay marriage (news.theage.com.au)
- “so over marriage equality” – The Feministing Five: Kate Bornstein (thefemmetasticfeminist.wordpress.com)