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'I support marriage equality. And I vote.'

If you’re one of the 72 percent who support same sex marriage, it’s time to start making some noise.

When Richard and Mildred Loving (yes, their real names) got married in 1962, they had to choose their location carefully. In fact they had to leave Virginia, the state where they lived.

You see, Richard was white and Mildred was black and in America in the 1960s, this made their marriage illegal in 16 states including their own. Returning home after their honeymoon, police broke into their bedroom in the middle of the night and arrested them.

interracial couple
Richard and Mildred Loving (Image via Getty)

Much to the disappointment of authorities, Richard and Mildred weren’t having sex at the time so they couldn’t be charged with the crime of ‘interracial intercourse’. Yes. Two people of different races having sex was a crime back then. The bewildered couple were still hauled off to jail and charged for being married. The judge ruled their vows null and void, noting that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red and He placed them on separate continents. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix”.

Nice.

Richard and Mildred were forced to move to Washington DC where their marriage was recognised but after a few years they were desperate to visit their family and friends in Virginia.  Facing arrest if they returned home, two civil rights lawyers took their case to the US Supreme Court where the judges overturned the Interracial Marriage Act in 1967. In their unanimous ruling, they noted that: “The freedom to marry has long been recognised as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men” (and women one would assume). Happy and orderly. Amen to that.

The idea of two people being banned from marriage because their skin didn’t match is a preposterous and offensive one to consider in 2015.

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So how can we blithely accept the same kind of discrimination based on sexuality?

Penny Wong: “The only way to achieve same sex marriage is to change the government.”

How can Tony Abbott and his government vote to disallow coalition MPs the freedom to even have a conscience vote?

The fact that discrimination is entrenched in the party platforms of both the ALP and the coalition is preposterous. But at least the ALP is giving its MPs a conscience vote. By branch-stacking yesterday’s meeting and blocking the possibility of a conscience vote by coalition members, our Prime Minister has guaranteed the continued discrimination of lesbian and gay Australians.

XXXXXXXX on May 31, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Demonstrators are calling on the government to allow a free vote on Marriage Equality.
(Image via Getty)

Ironically, modern marriage is in pretty bad shape as an institution. Fewer people want to get married and of those who do, more than half will bin their vows a few years later. So while heterosexuals are ignoring or abandoning marriage, there’s a steady stream of gay and lesbian couples trying to head the other way. Except their path is blocked by defiant politicians and conservative religious leaders because…well, nobody seems to be able to come up with a very good reason beyond ‘just because’.

When you ask opponents of same sex marriage why they oppose it, things quickly become farcical. Here are their top three responses:

MYTH #1: “IT’S ABOUT THE BIBLE”

Bollocks. Most opponents, when you strip away their waffle words, base their arguments on God and the bible. Which is ironic given that marriage never began as a religious institution. For most of European history, it was simply a business arrangement. Love and God had nothing to do with it. This is why the church was initially anti-marriage; because it undermined its power base. Today, you may choose to get married in a house of worship but that’s not what makes your vows legally binding. Marriage is a civil institution.  A marriage certificate is a legal document.

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So how can we allow some taxpayers to do it and not others?

How is that anything other than blatant discrimination?

MYTH #2:  “BUT IT’S ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY”

Bollocks. Over centuries, the only thing consistent about marriage has been its ability to evolve. Adapting to changing social standards is the only reason it’s still around.

MYTH #3: “IT WILL ERODE AND DEVALUE THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE”

Bollocks.That’s like saying democracy was “eroded” when women got the vote. Allowing same sex couples to marry is simply evolving marriage in the same way it has for centuries. Was marriage “eroded” when people of different races were allowed to marry?

18 arguments against gay marriage – and why they’re wrong.

As for someone else’s marriage ‘devaluing’ yours? That’s just messed up. If two people want to pledge their love and lifelong commitment in front of their friends, family and even children, what does that have to do with my marriage? How can that possibly be to its detriment?My marriage is none of your business and your marriage is none of mine. Some men beat their wives. Some women cheat on their husbands. Do either of these things impact of my marriage? They don’t. And if your marriage is so delicate that it is likely to be affected by the loving union of two people you don’t know, may I suggest you seek urgent counselling.

Here’s a fun fact: when the US Supreme Court legalised interracial marriage in 1967, a whopping 70% of Americans strongly disagreed. It happened anyway. Because sometimes you have to do what’s right, not what’s popular. Bizarrely, legalising same-sex marriage is both right AND popular in Australia. Every opinion poll taken over the past 12 months shows record high (and growing) levels of support for a change in legislation: the latest poll put it at 72 percent of the population in favour of same-sex marriage.

If you’re one of the 72 percent, it’s time to start making some noise. Heterosexual people and married people and single people need to stand up beside our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, friends and family and say, “I’m secure enough in myself or my relationship not to be threatened by the definition of marriage becoming a little more inclusive of other loving couples.”

I support same sex marriage. And I vote.

Do you believe in marriage equality? Do you vote? Then please please share this post. #VoteforEquality

You can download your own copy of the sign here: “I Support Marriage Equality. And I Vote.”

We’d love you to print it out, take a picture and upload it to social media with the hashtag #VoteForEquality.

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