“I, take you, to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
With the 37th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras steadily approaching, I couldn’t help but find inspiration to write about a pressing issue and concern that our nation is facing. The ongoing debate in relation to same-sex marriage has become a controversial issue, particularly in relation to the segregation of society and the heightened political agenda of the Liberal Party, more predominantly Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The current marriage law that Australia abides by, the Marriage Act 1961, defines a common law marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” and goes on to further incorporate that a (homosexual) “union solemnised in a foreign country…must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.” A law which is segregating, restricting and discriminating Australia’s gay and lesbian community. A law, that, current Prime Minister Tony Abbott embraces.
It is no secret that the PM strongly opposes the concept of a legal union that is not between a man and a woman, a view that he directly imposes on us. Previously, Abbott has described himself as a ‘traditionalist’ in defending his political stance on the matter. His devout Catholicism and moral beliefs have become subjects of repeated media questioning highlighting the collision between the view of the public and his private life. Evident when he openly expressed that he felt ‘threatened’ by gays and lesbians.
It is the duty of an elected leader to best reflect the views of the nation and act accordingly. The Australian Marriage Equality Organisation current statistics state the 64% of all Australians support gay marriage and of these 53% define themselves as Christian. Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten has reasserted his support in a recent speech at a Christian conference, taking aim at those who “insult and demonise people on the basis of who they love” and further continues to suggest that “these prejudices do not reflect Christian values”. It is indisputable that Tony Abbott is clearly blinded by his ignorance and self prejudice.
The importance of this issue is materializing within society, primarily in the younger generations. The AME also presented statistics the 81% of young people people are in support of same-sex marriage. Eleven year-old Orlando Burcham from Newcastle addressed a letter to the PM questioning his position on the matter:
“You were elected to represent our country, not yourself. Just because you think it’s wrong, does not give you the right to make it illegal. Doesn’t our opinions matter to you? Just because you’re the Prime Minister, which by the way doesn’t not give you all the power.”
To which Tony Abbott callously replied:
“The Government supports the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act 1961. Any change to this policy would be a matter for the Coalition Party Room.”
A current policy that is clearly outdated. A current policy that does not reflect the views of our nation. A current law which discriminates against society on the basis of who they love.
And I ask, is this issue too close to home? Information was released that Abbott’s own sister, Christine Forster, divorced her husband and found a new partner, in another woman. It was not long after this that he expressed on QandA that he felt “threatened by the queer community.” Added to this, daughters of the PM, support the cause describing the matter as “inevitable in generations to come.” The apple, in this regard, seems to fall exceptionally far from the tree.
Commentators have suggested that his supposedly “traditional” view would polarise homosexual voters, and I don’t doubt that they have. In the recent polls Abbott is sitting on 15%, trailing behind former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull on 44%. Turnbull supports abortion, stem-cell research and is a strong advocate for the legalisation of same-sex marriage despite also being Christian, though Abbott won’t even allow his MP’s for a conscience vote on the argument.
The Age published an article last month declaring that opposing gay marriage will decide the Prime Ministership for the upcoming coming election. The emergence of Malcolm Turnbull as a possible new leader would mean for significant developments for the prospect of gay marriage. Our best hope.
And for those of you that are endorsing this discriminatory law. Jim Jeffries has a few words for you:
It’s ironic to note that the Liberal Party’s home page currently quotes:
“Building a stronger Australia”
Under the currently law and Prime Minister, we as a nation are divided and the moral foreground that this country is standing on is beginning to crumble. In the world, twenty countries currently allow for same sex-marriage, why should Australia not be a part of that list based on the animosity of one man? The call for equality is loud and clear.
And do I take this man?
Mr. Turnbull; I do.
Mr. Abbott; I don’t.