by HELEN RAZER
Look. Look right into my sad, fraudulent eyes. There’s something you need to know.
This is especially difficult as we’ve been getting along so well since we met and first shared our secrets. But, there’s a truth that needs disclosing before our friendship can deepen; before you can learn to love, trust and LOL in the comments again.
Here goes. Ever since I was a little girl, I have found myself deeply attracted to starting arguments. Oh, I’ve also been in a relationship with a gal for the last fourteen years. But, I can’t imagine you find that fact particularly scandalous.
What some friends do find shocking, though, is my willingness to start an argument on the topic of marriage. If you’re in a same-sex relationship, it seems, declaring your support for same-sex marriage is as obligatory as enjoying the music of P!nk.
While I don’t love P!nk, I believe she certainly has her place as the soundtrack to Body Pump class. I am less patient with the idea of reviving marriage, a dying institution, for use by same-sex couples. Frankly, I find the whole thing a bit silly, expensive and well past its Best Before date.
Marriage puts you nowhere but in spectacular debt and at greater risk of uttering the phrase “my hubby”. No-one outside the cast of Geordie Shore should utter the phrase “my hubby”. Really. It makes your domestic partner sound like a nasty rash. “I must get something for my hubby”. “My hubby has been playing up again”. “What am I going to do with my hubby?”.
Please. Get the woman some ointment.
Of course, the public argument is that access to marriage will guarantee same-sex couples the same legal entitlements as opposite-sex couples. And who could argue with that? Certainly not me. Nor my hubby. (Sorry.) What is routinely overlooked in this debate, though, is that in 2008, the Labor Government overturned around 100 laws identified as discriminatory by GLBTI activists and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
Now, I don’t want to get sappy here because, frankly, I’m hoping to make a Body Pump class this afternoon. But I will say these historic laws Changed My Life. This suite of legislation changed many lives radically. You know all that stuff you see in tele-movies about queer people not being able to see their partner of sixty years on their deathbed? Now, thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, illegal. Yay.
There were so many changes for us. Your same-sex partner can now take parental leave from work; contingent on circumstances, you may not be required to testify against your same-sex partner in criminal proceedings; you may now take carer’s leave if your same sex partner or a member of their immediate family is suffering illness. Oh. And importantly, same-sex couples now access Family Court should their relationship dissolve. The list goes on. And on. If you’re curious to check these entitlements for yourself or a queer friend , you can use this engine.
In short, a same-sex couple now has the same legal entitlements as what was once referred to as a “de facto” couple; the term “domestic partnership” is more commonly used. Now, I’m no La-Di-Da sociologist, but data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics seems to tell me that the domestic partnership is now a fact of Australian life as commonplace as marriage.
So, from a legal standpoint, my relationship is both legitimate and commonplace. I wish I could say the same about my commitment to Body Pump class. But, the lesbian-positive, motivational music of P!nk aside for the moment, I wanna know: WHY ARE WE ALL BANGING ON ABOUT MARRIAGE?
First – let’s be real – it’s not working out very well for straight people. Is it? And I can’t see my lot improving things. Second, it is the relic of a world in which queer people were shunned, medicated and criminalised. Queers demanding access to the institution of marriage makes about as much sense to me as, say, a woman demanding membership with the Masonic Lodge. That is, it’s an awful lot of energy to expend on joining an increasingly irrelevant club.
Third, and perhaps most urgently, I am terrified of Destination Weddings.
As you may have read last month, campaigners celebrated in Tasmania as a bill for marriage equality passed in the lower house. At the time of writing, it seems likely that this will be passed into State law and then, of course, Hobart’s MONA will be booked out for the next ten years by gay mainlanders.
You can celebrate this as a symbol of liberty all you want but you have clearly not done the punishing arithmetic. I estimate that this “progress” will cost my partner and I an extra $6000 per annum in airfares, gifts, new frocks and personal trainer fees. Yes. Personal trainer fees. If you think I’m going to attend a gay wedding in anything less than peak Body Pump condition, you know nothing of My People.
The arguments for same-sex marriage derive from an emotional rather than a legal standpoint. Of course, I can respect the idea that access to the institution – however withered it is – might promote acceptance and diminish homophobia. But, I’m telling you: that ring on your finger will not change the mind of bigots. That change to law will not alter the views of your cleric and, I’d suggest, there is no act that will breathe fresh sense into the stagnant swamp-minds of so-called “Christians”.
The question of marriage has divided the queer community, ignited the ignorance of homophobes and obscured the historic changes to law that were made for same-sex couples so very recently.
What it has done, I guess, is renew my gym membership. Excuse me. I’m off to clean-and-press to the tune of “Blow Me”.
We recognise that not everyone is going to agree with Helen’s post. Please remember when commenting that Helen will be reading your responses – always argue the point, not the person.
Do you want to or have you got married?