politics

You shouldn't get a vote on marriage equality. It's that simple.

Everyone is talking about the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality penciled in for February 11 next year.

In one corner are the objectors. They say we shouldn’t be doing it because it will bring out into the light nasty homophobic hate speech. We shouldn’t do it because it is going to cost taxpayers around $175 million (plus $7.5 million for the No campaign and same for Yes) – just think of what that money could do. We shouldn’t do it because Parliament can legislate for marriage equality (it could be done and dusted by tomorrow) and we don’t need a plebiscite to get the same outcome.

In the other corners are the it’s-only-fair. They say we should do it because it is only fair to see what the country really wants (not everyone lives in inner city Sydney they are fond of saying). We should do it because, if the vote is overwhelmingly Yes, it will show how supported and loved our LGBTQI friends and family are.

All very interesting talking points you can mull over with your friends and homemade hummus at barbecues. Toss around at bedtime with your partner. Argue about over the phone with your mum.

But, at the end of the day, interesting talking points (and the very real threat of hate speech) are in a completely different ballpark than a country getting to vote Yes or No on marriage equality. No one should have the right to vote for or against a basic human right. No one.

March after gay marriage was legalised in Italy. Image via Getty.

In The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the number one right is:

  • We are all free and equal.

Oh, and number two is:

  • Don't discriminate.

We've never voted on whether we believe women and men should be considered equal. Should we ask the government to spend nearly $200 million to get a verdict on that one?

Same-sex marriage is a basic human right. Image via iStock.
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If we are going to vote on whether two people over there, who happen to be gay, should be allowed to get married then how about we have a plebiscite for a few other human rights as well? I'm sure we can argue and discuss them. I'm sure a lot of people have feelings about them. Get angry about them even. Maybe even think they have gone "too far".

  • Would we vote on whether we consider Indigenous Australians equal to white Australians?
  • Would we vote on whether or not everyone should be treated equally before the law (how about people who have more than two cars as a family be unequal before the law - all those carbon emissions)?
  • Would we vote on a plebiscite to decide if we should give only smart children an education (really, why waste money on kids who are never going to get there)?
  • Would we vote on whether or not people are really innocent until proven guilty (if we used an educated hunches system it would save so much money in the court system).
  • Would we vote on whether a woman has a right to control her own body?
  • Would we vote on whether a child should have their basic needs met (Again, surely someone out there who wants their taxes spent on exploring outer space or something and has a problem with this right so why not vote on it)?
  • What about slavery?
  • Or torture?

I have straight friends and gay friends. Straight relatives and gay ones. Yep, straight colleagues and gay colleagues. How can I possibly look at any of my family, friends and colleagues and think I should be allowed to vote on whether or not they are allowed a simple human right. I would be offended and upset and angry - and who I felt I was as a person would probably be inexorably altered - if the whole of Australia were off to the ballot boxes on February next year to vote on whether I have the right to control my own body.

There is a human right being violated in Australia. It should be corrected, immediately without me pushing around a pencil in a cardboard ballot box in February like some kind of benevolent god. I simply should not be voting on a basic human right that I have been afforded and some of my dearest and most beautiful family and friends have not.

I do not have that right. Unlike the right for any two people who love each other to marry. That right should be a given.

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