On the 19th of September, 2012, I sat and wrote emails to the 24 members of the Labor Party who voted against marriage equality in the House of Representatives in Australia. Each letter was almost the same, except I made sure I knew the names of the spouse or partner of each of those politicians. This is what I wrote – this particular letter was to Deputy PM, Wayne Swan:
Today you decided that your love for Kim is more important, better and perhaps stronger than my love for my partner, Nathan.
Today you made it harder for us to tell our kids why their Mum’s relationship is more important than their Dad’s.
Today your vote made it clear that Nathan and I remain second-class citizens and are not deserving of equality under the law. It seems our love does not matter to you.
Today, you had the opportunity, the power to make a decision to effect change that is supported by a majority of Australians and to do your job to represent the will of the majority.
Today, you were on the wrong side of history.
Today, I have decided that I no longer have faith in our democracy, that I don’t want to support a government who treats my life and my relationship with contempt.
This vote around equality in marriage is not about religion. This vote is not about parenting because those of us who want to raise children (as we do) don’t need to be married like many other Australians who have children and are not married.
This vote is an issue of democracy, human rights and equality under the law.
I hope that when you go home to Kim and your family that you can explain to them and your friends why our love is not equal. I hope that when you go to bed, your conscience allows you to sleep.
Because I won’t sleep. I can’t explain to my 8 siblings and their collective 20 children, and ten grandchildren why my love for my partner is different and not deserving of the choice to marry. I can’t explain to friends why our democracy has failed us. I cant live with the fact that I am and will remain, because of you, a second-class citizen.
I remain confident that one day my government will see that this simple piece of legislation is easy, as it will be in New Zealand, The United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and South Africa. I remain hopeful that future leaders will see that there is no different type of love. That there is just love.
I wish that you had been strong enough to make that decision today.
Today I am going to write to them again, because we have woken to news that the House of Commons in the United Kingdom have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality. The vote will now go to the House of Lords, and may not see the same majority, but given this legislation has been put by the Conservative Tory party, and supported by Labor and the Liberal Democrats, in a free vote, it is most likely that it will pass.
There are countries across the world who already have voted in favour of equality. Catholic dominated countries like Spain and Argentina both have marriage for all of their citizens. Protestant Netherlands has marriage equality. Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, some parts of Brazil and Mexico, Norway and now 10 of the United States all recognise equal marriage. It is most likely that France will pass it in the coming weeks, and New Zealand will also enshrine equality into law. We have seen in the US that Barack Obama not only supports marriage for all of his constituents, but is the first ever President to say and most likely do something about it.
But in Australia, oh no! Not with our atheist Prime Minister who believes in the traditional tenets of marriage as a sacrament – the same Prime Minister who lives in a defacto relationship and whose partner is afforded all of the benefits of a married partner – because they are heterosexual. Not with the leader of the opposition who seems so threatened by equality and so threatened by gay people that he has denied his front bench a conscience vote – something that his party’s leaders have never done in history – ever! And yet, a majority of Australians support marriage equality.
One of the most extraordinary things about the vote in the UK – is that both of our leaders are born there. Julia Gillard, born in Barry, Wales and Tony Abbott born in London, England. It is these two countries that have passed this law overnight in the House of Commons to protect and enshrine the rights of their citizens!
So, Its Time.
Its time to see equality for all Australians.
Its time for people on both sides of our government to understand that this is an issue of human rights.
Its time for members of parliament to realise that this is our happiness, our future and our love they are playing political games with.
Its time for history to change.