So whilst I did say the last post of the day, this has just come through from a good friend of mine and in the interests of timing and the ALP conference tomorrow, this is important.
Josh Faulks is a corporate affairs guru after a fair stint working as an adviser in the Federal Government. This is his story.
JOSH FAULKS – MY MARRIAGE STORY
Three weeks ago, I asked my incredible partner to be my husband (luckily he said yes!). I couldn’t ask him to marry me because the laws in my country don’t allow it. We love each other just as much (I would say perhaps a little more) as so many other happy couples that decide that they would like to get hitched. We, like so many other Australians want to celebrate that love in front of the people that have made us who we are and contributed so much to our relationship. The question I grapple with the most is: why is our relationship treated so differently by our Government and parts of our society?
Tomorrow, a group of politicians, ALP delegates and union officials will squabble over semantics and make a decision that will largely determine whether I can choose to legally marry my partner. They will decide whether to have a conscience vote on a conscience vote and whether to change the ALP platform in favour of same sex marriage. As Australia struggles with a European economic crisis and countless other issues of national importance, I find it puzzling that the Labor party has directed so much energy to same sex marriage – but I welcome the attention.
That same sex marriage has escalated to the most controversial and ‘important’ issue at the Conference is a sad indictment of the Labor Party. That the Prime Minister has used so much political capital to get her way on this issue smacks of focus group driven politics. It is astonishing that this position has come from a left leaning Prime Minister. Frankly, the ALP’s internal squabbling on this issue is embarrassing – all from a party that claims to the party of social reform.
Despite polls telling us that the vast majority of Australians support gay marriage, we still have a long way to go until there is broad acceptance in the community for same sex marriage. It takes a bit of understanding. It takes a bit of exposure and it definitely takes leadership.
I agree with Tim Dick in the SMH. This debate has been unnecessarily hijacked by politics, fear and prejudice. We are losing sight that we are talking about people and love and relationships. We are losing sight of the personal.
And I want to bring it back to the personal for a moment.
My mum used to be opposed to gay marriage. I asked her if she values my relationship any differently from my married sister and married brother and she replied “Absolutely not!”. But, she still believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. After lots of discussions and exposure to our loving relationship, she is now an advocate for same sex marriage and I am proud.
I have four unbelievably beautiful nieces and one very handsome little nephew. Just about all their young lives, they have known that I am gay and that I have a same sex partner. They don’t know any differently. There is no engrained prejudice. There is no pressure to accept – they just do. And unfortunately, my partner tends to be the favourite!
The point I am trying to make is that so many families have gay children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, dads, mums and new gay ‘in-laws’. The more time they spend with them and the more exposure they have to these members of their families, the more accepting they are. And the more they say: ‘what is all this fuss about?’.
Let’s be honest, some of the arguments promulgated by those opposed to same sex marriage are a little ridiculous. I am not going to document them. It has been done many times before.
The only thing I would like to say is religion should have no part in this debate. The fact is that marriage is not about religion for an increasing number of Australians. Plus, we are not demanding (or even asking) that churches, synagogues and mosques throw open their doors and bless same sex marriages. We have a long way to go until that kind of acceptance occurs.
The claim by some religious groups that same sex marriage will lessen the institution of marriage is a far cry from so many of their teachings of love and acceptance. Don’t forget that if we took the literal meaning of all our religious texts, women would be wearing head to toe dress and be stoned for adultery!
A catholic priest recently told a friend of mine during marriage counselling before their impending nuptials that marriage is about three things:
- Bringing together the people who made you who you are
- Making a public commitment to each other
- Breaking bread together – which he suggested is the dinner/party afterwards
I couldn’t agree more!
I firmly believe that future generations will look back at this time and this debate and say “what were you thinking” in a similar vain to our generation’s view on the ban on interracial marriages.
This is purely and simply about equality and it is time that we break down this last bastion of prejudice.
It is time.
I leave you with this amazing video by GetUp. It is such a common story for so many straight or gay couples. The point is – it simply doesn’t matter.