There is a heated debate in Australia – with some ugly turns – on marriage equality. The kind of reasons offered by those against marriage equality are truly baffling, especially if one cares about injustice, suffering or a better future for all.
There is the religious group saying that this goes against the Bible or other holy texts. There is no wonder that this position is not very specific (talking here only about Christianity) about what part of the Bible is clearly against love, or homosexuality; as this excellent theological analysis shows here, the real reason behind it is that there is no argument to support the hateful rhetoric based on religious texts. It is heartbreaking and frustrating to see Christians missing that crucial part of compassion, understanding, empathy from the Bible and watch how they find themselves marching against those who have a terrible history of discrimination, that is still present and hurtful in explicit or more subtle forms. The reality is that this is not about religion, but a position of intolerance and control. This has nothing to do with the Bible or any other religious book, but quite the opposite!
It is important to note that marriage is not a religious thing anymore (as it is obvious that we we’re not in the 19th century…), but a set of civil rights! For example, I am happily married with a wonderful woman and we did not go to a Church – and we’re very happy about it! We spent many years as a de facto couple and the reason to get officially married – to get the marriage certificate – was only driven by the need to get the set of rights that all get as partners. One can be shocked to learn that in reality de facto heterosexual couples have quite limited rights. I can only imagine how hard and discriminatory is for gay couples to live their life together, get old and deal with all arrangements of a couple engaged in a long term relationship; and cope also with discrimination and the feeling of a second-rate human beings. We were travelling a lot, changing jobs from Europe to North America and South East Asia, so when we arrived in New Zealand we were tired of all the extra-hurdles we experienced as a de-facto couple. Border control and immigration authorities made this a very unpleasant experience for us: show us that you are a ‘real’ couple, prove it!, we need more evidence and so on. So we changed from a de facto partnership to a marriage recognised by immigration and courts in Auckland. As soon as this certificate was granted all problems went away. So if you never walked in those shoes it would be wonderful to imagine how is to experience this form of ‘soft’ discrimination.. and after that multiply it exponentially.
Another argument against marriage equality is based on one of the worst myths: that there is a so called ‘flown-on’ effect on children raised by gay couples. This is particularly painful, when we think how callous is to exploit children in this debate. However, since this is discussed, it is important to point out that the science is set, as these two articles with numerous links for studies and meta-studies prove: “Children raised by same–sex parents are at no disadvantage“ and “Same-sex couples and their children: what does the evidence tell us?“. We know what is definitely going to have a negative effect on children, and this is lack of love! Violence, abuse, neglect and poverty impact on children for the rest of their lives and it would be great to start caring about real problems, not people’s sexuality. The Church and any religious group can address this with courage and ethical responsibility; there are so many people in education and scientific research that can provide them all the evidence they need to make a strong case for decisive action on this!
There is time for the NO campaign to look in their hearts and find inspiration in the Christian spirit of kindness and understanding for those who really need it. Australia is a generous country, where those who’re vulnerable can find help, where the ‘little guy’ still finds some help to stand a chance against bullies. This is what made us love this country and stay here and this is why I passionately believe that those against equality should have a second thought and find who is the bully and who needs a fair shake.
Our belief in education for all, equity and the need to fight injustice when you see it made me and my wife voted YES – and we share it proudly!
*photo for “supporting marriage equality is taken from the City of Melbourne – with thanks!