19/09/2017 11:22 AM AEST | Updated 19/09/2017 11:24 AM AEST

Kids Should Not Have To Listen To A ‘Debate’ About (Marriage) Equality

Children should be shielded from vile commentary about their friends and families.

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I chatted to a friend the other day, who confessed that he was utterly ashamed that the Australian Parliament had failed in its duty to resolve marriage equality, as it should have. And now my (rainbow) family would have to continue to endure a very public 'debate' about my family.

A debate about whether some Australian adults, not all, should be afforded this privilege, and thanks to people like Lyle Shelton, questions about the legitimacy of my family will be publicly canvassed by those who know nothing about my family.

Despite what the ACL would have you believe, research shows (report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2016) that children in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their friends in heterosexual parented families. While some studies go so far as to say that there are some benefits for children raised by same-sex couples (see a 2014 study of 390 same-sex parents by the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families).

My friend also has a son who is six years old, who is utterly confused about the whole marriage-equality debate. For my friend's son's experience of families is that there are some families with: a mum and dad; some with just a mum; some with two mums; and we know others have two dads, or no parents, or foster parents. For this six-year old boy, inclusivity and acceptance is a no brainer.

What perplexes him is that there might be a debate about what he believes to be true. He just does not understand why there is anything to debate. It just is, and so it must be, that everyone can get married if they want to.

Clearly, in the mind of my friend's six-year-old son, all families in his community are equal, yet we know sadly this is not yet true.

The federal member for Warringah and Matt Canavan are really trying to silence the majority of voices who support marriage equality and whom they wrongly claim are acting like bullies. They will find, at the end of the postal survey, that they are on the wrong side of history. Just as if it were a vote on the leadership of the Coalition.

I am glad my friend's son is still a 'delicate' little person, and I hope that when he grows older, he will live in a far more accepting Australia. But until we get there, I think this six year old should be shielded from vile commentary about his friends and their families.

The former Prime Minister is right about one thing, removing discrimination that denies LGBTQ people the opportunity to get married will change society, but unlike him, I and many other Australians believe it will change society for the better. There is nothing misleading about wanting marriage equality.

Clearly, in the mind of my friend's six-year-old son, all families in his community are equal, yet we know sadly this is not yet true. And LGBTQ people hope to be able to marry so that their (rainbow) families too, are rightfully acknowledged as a part of the foundation of our great and diverse Australian community.

But, the former Prime Minister is plain wrong when he talks about not changing a construct that has stood since time immemorial. The institution of marriage has changed many times, as society has -- which thankfully, it does. Indigenous Australians only won their struggle for marriage equality in the 1960s. Removing the misplaced role which eugenics had had in seeking to prohibit interracial marriages. And Australian servicemen who wed Japanese women overseas did not achieve marriage equality until the 1960s. So you see the institution of marriage, in order to remain relevant, has constantly changed.

On some levels marriage equality is of no relevance to my daily life. Most days, I face the most challenging task of getting two toddlers dressed in the morning, then fed and entertained throughout the day -- which might require making play dough or taking on the persona of a 'Gruffalo'. A job almost as challenging as getting politicians to vote on marriage equality.

But on another level, marriage equality is central to my life. I am one of the many voices who want equality for all Australians. Depending on which poll you read, this majority might be as little as 54.8 percent or as much as 70 percent. I, like many others believe that a fairer and more equal society helps to build a more inclusive society for our children, and that is a good thing.

I will be voting 'yes' for marriage equality. But most of all I am grateful that my one-year-old son, and two-year-old daughter, are too young to absorb what's being said about their two mums and their loving family, unlike my friend's young son.

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