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My Marriage Doesn't Risk The Quality Of Your Own

Opposition to marriage equality is one of the few remaining obstacles to real inclusion.

21/06/2016 6:21 AM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:54
Matthew Salacuse
"My partner and I are good enough to join your club."

A minister friend once said to me in a moment of honesty: "Legalising gay marriage would cheapen my marriage."

So that's what it comes down to.

You can't be a member of my club because letting you in would have a detrimental effect on my own membership.

As if his marriage would be tarnished by the actions or beliefs of anyone other than him and his spouse.

Really?

Traditional marriage vows make it crystal clear that marriage is a commitment to another person above and beyond any other, "forsaking all others" is the way it goes, except apparently you can somehow blame other people's marriages for the quality of your own.

Huh?

If my boyfriend and I marry, publicly promising to love and serve each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for the rest of our lives, how does that in any way cheapen my minister friend's commitment to the minister's wife? And hers to his?

My partner and I have been together for 14 years this September. I'm sure it's had no impact one way or the other on our minister friend's marriage. How will that change if we're allowed to marry formally?

In a world where barriers keep crashing down like Berlin Walls, opposition to marriage equality is one of the few remaining obstacles to real inclusion.

It's one of the last old boys' networks.

Apparently, 54 percent of gay couples in Australia would marry if they could. That leaves 46 percent negative, fearful or undecided. But, here's the clincher: 80 percent of gay couples want to be given the choice.

Voting used to be an all-boys network, too. Until Emmeline Pankhurst screamed from the rooftops: "Not on my watch, gentlemen!"

The White Australia Policy was another stronghold designed to keep the membership pure and uncompromised, propped up by all sorts of ridiculous arguments.

Remember when women weren't allowed to enjoy a drink in the men's lounges? When they couldn't apply for loans without their husbands' signatures?

And how did the heinous attempts to legislate the second-class status of Aboriginals make Australia a better place? We stole their children because we knew better. We happily let more than 1000 of them fight for Australia in WWI but we wouldn't let them vote until 1965. 1965! They weren't even counted in the Census until 1971. That's 1971.

Yes, we love our exclusive clubs here in Australia.

And to feel secure in our club, we have to find someone to keep out, bar them from entering. It makes the club stronger.

No it doesn't.

It makes us weaker.

Giving the vote to women made democracy stronger. Recognising our Indigenous brothers and sisters made Australia stronger.

Understanding that all love is truly equal cannot be a step backwards. And legislating that equality is no minor matter. It is a big deal.

And I am sick of being told that I have enough rights already, why do I need the right to marry?

I'll tell you why.

Because my partner and I are good enough to join your club.

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