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Marriage Equality

In which I attempt to get invited to a lot more weddings.


I wish I had something more valuable or useful to add to the marriage-equality debate. You know, one of those articles that go viral, with a headline like “BRUTAL TAKEDOWN OF THE ‘NO’ CAMPAIGN!!”, or “‘NO’ CAMPAIGNER EVISCERATED!!!”, the kind of article that needs ALL CAPS and more than one exclamation mark and gets mysteriously plagiarised on half-a-dozen link farms.

I also don’t have some amazing tweet that is going to win hearts and minds and get me onto a top-23 listicle on Buzzfeed. Twitter isn’t a useful medium if your argument requires any depth or subtlety, and one of the more interesting parts of the marriage equality discussion is that sweeping generalisations about “the other side”- the kind of logic that fits into 140 characters- don’t hold up. (In either direction.)

Coming out swinging at the Christian community, for example, is a good way to fuel the perpetual-outrage machine on social media, but a poor choice if you’re trying to foster #respectfuldebate. While groups like the Australian Christian Lobby are at the forefront of the No campaign, most churchgoers in Australia support same-sex marriage, and an increasing number of clergy (particularly Anglican and Uniting) also support it. So #notallchristians and all that.

Even the political debate doesn’t seem to follow the normal Left v Right divide. A number of conservative politicians within the current Government- the Prime Minister included– are in favour of a Yes vote, while there are Labor members who are not. That’s that angle ruled out, then.

The No campaign’s initial advertising pitch was a bit of a damp squib, and I’d be a fortnight or so late on that action anyway, so my Scorching Hot Take™ would be lukewarm at best. Oddly, once the “boys might have to wear dresses” argument started doing the rounds, I started getting ads for a charity initiative called Do It In A Dress; which aims to raise money for women in poorer countries so that they can access education. Check it out if that sounds like a cool thing to do.

Finally, actual lawyers have already posted their analysis of the issues, and in a far better way than I could manage.

So, what’s an aspiring pundit to do? I’m starting to think that I didn’t fully consider what it takes to be a big shot in the hot-take business, an observation that doesn’t bode well for my blog, book tour and future career on the cable-news talk show circuit.

I’m a straight white dude, a demographic that author John Scalzi once called “the lowest difficulty setting there is” for life. I’m not directly affected by the result of the survey, and I don’t stand to lose or gain anything. Well, I guess I lost the few minutes it took to walk to the shops and post the envelope. But I improved my step count for the day, so I guess we’re even.

I do, however, have friends, co-workers and colleagues who would be affected. They’re amazing people- good at their jobs, good parents, good friends, part of their communities. I want them to have the same legal protections that I do, and the same opportunities for happiness. (They will probably have even more opportunities than I, but my personal life is a topic for another time.) I want our society to be positive, and inclusive, and to celebrate love and promote joy.

I guess that’s my ultimate pitch on this. It’s about equality under the law, for everyone. And we can push for it by just ticking the box, and posting the form back- as soon as you get it, so that you don’t forget- and letting the Australian Bureau of Statistics do the rest. You don’t even need to buy a stamp.

(One other thing you don’t need to buy is glitter. The poor public servants at the ABS’ end of this process will thank you for not including it with your survey form.)

If you’re worried about religious freedoms, the equality campaign seems perfectly happy for religious groups to continue to perform- or refuse to perform- marriages as they do now. So vote Yes for the legal principle, then follow up with your MP to make sure the fine print is taken care of once the bill hits the House. Be a part of the process.

And if you’re really worried about boys in dresses?

I own two kilts. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Cover image from Pixabay

Derek Nielsen was admitted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. It’s not that complicated, you just buy a ticket at the door. Follow him on Twitter at @ozhoopsdrek.