For those who haven't heard, one, Australia is apparently going to have a (non-binding!) plebiscite on the topic of equal marriage, and two, the Australian Christian Lobby are requesting that anti-discrimination/hate speech laws be lifted during the campaign. Because they can't argue against our right to marry without arguing against our right to exist, apparently, which really does just make the pro-equality argument for them.
There is a very, very good article on this at the Conversation
, by Patrick Stokes of Deakin University. It covers reasons why a plebiscite is a shitty idea, the underlying anxieties about heterosexual "specialness", and reasons why exemption from hate speech laws would be a terrible idea. (Stokes is not uncritical of the marriage equality lobby, either, which is good.)
The impact of homosexual marriages on heterosexual married couples is that their marriages stop being special just because they are heterosexual. It takes away the privilege of being in the ‘right’ sort of marriage, a default, ‘normal,’ and implicitly normative form of relationship.
I also have feelings on this topic. My feelings are different from my political opinions (political opinions, in short: marriage equality would not be as good a fix for the problems it purports to fix as would be a broad programme of legal changes to the way custody, inheritance, kinship and related laws work; but fucking hell if we're coming down to a yes or no vote then fine, I will gear up for this fight). I made this as a Facebook post, but putting it here so it's more easily findable. It's not going under a cut, because it's not meant to stay private.
The fact we do seem to be going to a plebiscite makes me feel ill. I don't want this, I don't want this, I don't want this.
Here's some things you probably know about me: once upon a time I was a very earnest Christian. And a very argumentative one. And, as religious people go, a relatively liberal one, albeit armed more with enthusiasm and a sense of justice than a good sense of political analysis, because I was a wee teenager. I was in the Uniting Church for the Resolution 84 kerfuffle of 2003, and just beginning to form a political awareness. The people I looked up to and admired, my peers and mentors from the UYF and our champion ministers Lyn and Nancy were broadly in favour of such notions as being nice to gay people, and permitting them to train in ministry. (Resolution 84 is a wiffle-waffle: it says you won't be explicitly banned, but does not promise that you will be explicitly included. There are reasons for this.) So I was too, and drew on those people and their resources for starting to inform myself.
No, wait, back up. Some time before that- maybe 2002?- I was in a circle of people at school. Mostly students, one teacher. "Nondenominational" for which read fundamentalist Christian school - the kind where Catholics were bullied for being insufficiently Christian. The teacher was asking us all where we went to church, and to discuss our church communities. I said, without expecting any reaction, that I went to the Uniting Church.
"The Uniting Church?" said the teacher. "They're not Christians. Don't they have gay ministers?"
I had some idea what 'gay' meant at that point. (It was a dodgy idea: I'd been reading Anne McCaffrey, where being gay got you either eaten by tigers or late-life reformed heterosexuality with a girl half your age, but I digress.) I had no idea why I was getting this reaction. I considered, for a second or two, saying I didn't know. I considered everything I knew of my church, and of my school.
"Yes, we do," I said. "And I'm proud of it." Then I went home and asked my mother to explain why people thought gay people couldn't be ministers????
From there on, throughout high school and university, I set about being an informed gay-friendly Christian. I armed myself with historical analyses of St Paul's context and the difference between pederasty and an equal relationship between partners of any sex. I read "Uniting Faith and Sexuality" about six times. I argued with more conservative Christians wherever I found them. I actually met some gay people, and they were cool. (They were soooo cooool I envied them a lot. We'll come back to that.) I was also a prat, and made what I now realise were classic intro-level Ally Fails. Once I was talking to a baptist at a UCA student convention, and this baptist said he had never met a gay person before. I said "I can fix that" and hauled Curtis over to be Token Gay. (I'm *so sorry*, Curtis).
And in my fourth year of university, many things changed. One of these was that suddenly there was a giiiiirl
and she was pretty
and, well, you get the idea. And this time (unlike previous times in high school or early uni days) I had the self-awareness and the vocab (I had never met
the word bisexual until my first year of uni!) to realise that duh, I had crush on this GIRL. And that made many things make sense, including the fact that I had sat with the UCA queers feeling both happy (included!) and sad (different??) and envious (???).
And I stopped going to church. Part of that was because I also had an anti-revelation and stopped believing in God. But I'd stopped going to church *before* that. Not because I thought my particular congregation would give me trouble over my sexuality - I'd seen other friends come out, it had been fine. And I knew the UCA was, overall, a pretty welcoming denomination. But not entirely. And there would always be others. And I knew how exhausting those conversations were, because I had been having them since I was fifteen. I had been told I was not a Christian and my church was invalid not because *I* was gay but because I was hypothetically theoretically gay-positive.
I had absolutely no qualms, when I thought it wasn't about me, in throwing myself into that fight (in the particular context I was in).
I could not do it, not when it *was* about me. And I have never, not since I started coming out to people, had to justify the existence of same-sex attraction in general, to anyone. (I have had to justify myself as a bisexual, to both gay and straight people; and to pitch in in defense of other gender or sexual identities.)
I do not want to do this. I am a long way away from Australia right now, but I do not want to do this. I do not want to have to find out that many of my friends or family will not only vote against equal marriage (... I don't want to find that out, either) but will turn out to hold degrading, dehumanising opinions of me and my peers. I don't want my friends and peers to turn on the TV to find ads denouncing our evil influence on society. I don't want to have to have conversations with friends and family about how I do not wish to marry but I will be really, really fucking upset if I think any of them could deliberately vote against my *right* to do so.
I don't want to do this. Stop the ride, I want to get off.