Editor’s Note: Maybe I’m not the right person to write about Marriage Equality, maybe I am. But I have a lot of opinions on marriage, so I’ve shared some below. I hope you enjoy them and if you too have strong feelings on the marriage equality debate, please reach out to me at georgialeaker[at]gmail[dot].com, as we are organising a collaborative piece on the plebiscite and would love to hear your thoughts!
I’ve done a lot of thinking about weddings and marriage recently. Partly it’s because I’ve attended four this year (not that many for a person my age, but a lot for a person whose friends are predominately LGBTQIA so can’t get married), partly it’s because I’m at a point where I want a child but I’m without a partner and I have to think about the logistics of becoming a mother on my own and partly it’s because once again, it feels like marriage equality is just so close but so far out of our reach.
I’m a cis-het woman, so marriage is something I can partake in freely, should I find a man who wants me as his wife. However, for as long as I can remember I’ve not wanted that for myself. When I was young, I opted for the role of ‘father of the bride’ when I played weddings with my friends because you got to walk down the aisle and be the centre of attention but didn’t have to actually engage in what I see as an outdated custom.
Yes, that’s right: I don’t really see the point of weddings or marriage. It’s kind of backwards in my opinion, especially the actual wedding proceedings. Honestly, I cringe everytime the celebrant says “And who gives this woman to this man?” and waits for the bride’s father’s to respond “I do” but doesn’t then ask who gives the man to the woman. I am grateful every day that should my sister or I get married (and that would ONLY happen for visa purposes if I was dating a foreigner), my dad would probably tell the celebrant: “Georgia makes her own decisions, thanks.”
I also, like many others, cringe when the words “marriage is between a man and a woman” – those horrid words forced into the Marriage Act legislation by John Howard (how could a man that implemented life-saving gun laws be so intent on ruining the lives of others?) are spoken by the celebrant. I HATE that part of weddings so much I want to scream.
Yet there I am, jetsetting across Australia and the globe to be at my friend’s special days despite my beliefs being similar to Julia Gillard’s: why bloody bother? Why do I spend so much money and time and holiday leave attending weddings?
It’s quite simple, really. To me, marriage equality is like being pro-choice. I may have decided that should I get pregnant by accident, I am likely to keep it, but that doesn’t mean for a second that I think any other woman should be forced to do the same. Because pro-choice is just that: giving a woman the right to choose what to do with her body, whatever that may be. And I am pro-marriage-choice.
In other words: I may not want to get married, I may think weddings are too expensive and that there are far too many outdated, sexist aspects of it that I would never want to partake in myself, but a wedding that is freely entered into by two willing individuals because that’s how they want to express their love? I’ll be there, front and centre, congratulating them both and being the best wedding guest ever – because their day isn’t about me or my beliefs, it’s about them and their love. And love, as far as I’m concerned, is always worth celebrating, however it is you choose to celebrate it.
Marriage equality, therefore as far as I’m concerned, is the same. Two men or two women’s love is not about you or your outdated, bigoted beliefs, it’s about them and their love and them choosing to celebrate it in a way that they want to and that the law recognises as equal to that of a heterosexual couple.
It’s hard to tell at this stage if the Australian government will buck up and bloody pass the law, if we will waste millions on a non-binding plebiscite or if we’ll be waiting until 2019 when the next federal election will happen for marriage equality. But if we do go to the polls to vote, I urge you to vote Yes. I urge you to support love and the celebration of love, because right now our world desperately needs more love in it and what’s more full of love than a wedding?