This is about the Marriage Equality postal survey, in which we get to vote as to whether or not same sex couples can marry.
I know it isn't really a vote. Even the newspapers are calling it a postal survey. A survey for $122 million! After which the politicians might get a conscience vote. Might, if the answer is Yes. It isn't binding. But we are voting anyway, because Malcolm needs the support of the right-wing to keep his job. So I'll call it a vote. It's only people who are of voting age who get a say.
A few things. My nephew's younger daughter, Rachel, rang from Sydney last Friday, to ask her father - and the rest of her family, as we were there - how we were all going to vote. She is thirteen going on fourteen and a passionate young woman. (Amazing, the predictive software threw up the word "dinar" instead of "woman".) She can't vote yet, but wanted to be reassured we were going to vote yes. We all called out that we were. I can imagine Rachel, at university one day and involved in student politics.
Rachel's Dad is divorced. His wife threw him out of the house on Father's Day, when their first child was a toddler and she was pregnant with Rachel, so he has thoughts on these things. He will be saying yes, but he had a thought that hadn't occurred to me. If you can be married, you can be divorced, right? So those gay men and women who choose to commit to each other in that way will have to deal with some stuff that heterosexual people have had to deal with for a long time. Mind you, heteros who live with each other are generally treated as a married couple for legal purposes anyway. Live with someone with a child for long enough and you have to pay child support if the other person can claim that you are the only father that child knows(I say father because the mother almost automatically gets custody). I remember when I worked for Social Security, now Centrelink, that you were asked a LOT of questions if you were sharing a home with someone of the opposite sex: do you do his washing? Do you share a bed? A lot of things along those lines. If you were deemed a couple, you were treated as a couple. The individual pensions were lower. If your partner was earning too much, it was considered that they could damned well support you without the taxpayer being involved. That wasn't an issue for people of the same sex sharing a home, who were assumed to be just flatmates. It would be now. I admit it has been a long time since I was in the public service, things might have changed.
But that is their business. And they might consider it worth the trouble. See, it isn't just about love. It's about legalities. Like not being allowed to visit your partner in hospital if it's "next of kin" only. And wills - what if the rest of the family challenges in court? And plenty more along those lines.
I will be saying yes, but am angry that I'm being forced to do this. It's none of my damned business! It shouldn't be up to me to have a say, just so the head honcho can keep his job a bit longer. (If there is anything good here it's that a LOT of 18 year olds have registered to vote and they will be there next election). It doesn't affect me. If I don't vote and a whole lot of others don't vote, we will be letting down our gay friends. I have four of them, not counting the trans folk, but now I think of it, I've known two of those. Two of my gay friends aren't partnered at present, because, having come out later in life, they couldn't find anyone their own age and felt uncomfortable with the twenty-somethings they were with for a while. Two of them are like comfortable old married couples, except ... they aren't. I don't know if they want to marry. But they should have that right. And it shouldn't be up to me to allow or not allow them.
And there is the hateful campaigning, which was predicted and is happening. Idiots going on TV talking about "and the kids will be given a lot of sexual scenarios at school if we let this happen" and even more bizarre stuff. "Kids need a mother AND a father." Well, yes, they do. Try telling that to divorced and separated hetero couples. Tell it to the kids who have been abused by their mother's boyfriend.
As it happens, there are plenty of gay folk with children, kids who have two mothers or two fathers. That is already the case. Why is it going to be worse if their two same sex parents are allowed to marry? Especially since those who make the most noise about it are those who disapprove of unmarried hetero couples and call their children "illegitimate", in this day and age. Surely it will be better by their standards?
I had a cuppa with one of my partnered gay friends the other night. He was stressed out about this whole business - and he is no victim type! He is a funny, lively man and absolutely capable of looking after himself verbally and every other way. But now he has to deal with the hatemongers who are being allowed to have their public say about something that is none of their business. As someone who has had to put up with the so-called "free speech advocates" who want to get rid of section 18C of the Racial Vilification Act, so we can all have a nice reasonable argument about how horrible my people are, I totally get it. He's had to put up with idiots and their general opinions on gays as having chosen to be what they are - and now this.
I told him that while I would be saying yes, because not to vote would be to let him down, it was none of my damned business if he wanted to marry.
To any of my Australian friends reading this, I urge you to vote, however angry you are about this matter. Not to vote is to let through the No campaign. If you're old enough, you will remember the Republic referendum. The question was carefully worded to make sure it would fail, because the PM of the time didn't want a Republic - and if, by some remote chance, it did get through, it would be so little different from now that it wouldn't matter. The question this time requires simply "yes" or "no." It can get through, but only if those who think it's a farce vote anyway. Then the politicians can have a careful thought about whether they want their jobs back.
If you are a No voter, ask yourself first how your gay friends must feel. And you are very likely to have some, whether you know it or not. Think about individuals, not "them".
In the end, the politicians get to choose, whatever we say. But if enough people say no, they won't bother at all, and if nothing else, that's your tax money that has been wasted.
Think about it.