The same-sex marriage debate, thanks to this appalling postal plebiscite idea, is about to get pretty hard to stomach. Homophobic campaigners are being given extraordinary license to debate the validity of homosexual relationships in the public sphere. The cost, to the LGBTI community, is bound to be high.
If you, like me, are not directly effected by this plebiscite, that's well and good. We are very fortunate. We don't have to stand by while people who hate us or disapprove of us try to influence others to deny us a human right. It won't be our relationships being used as fodder for lies and scare-mongering. Lucky us.
You can help.
If you are in the privileged position of not having to experience the country debating whether or not you deserve equal rights, here's a thing you can do. This is aside from signing a petition or throwing some coin in to help appeal this hideous excuse for a survey.
You can simply speak up every time you see someone expressing anti-same-sex marriage sentiments. We should not attempt to speak on behalf of the LGBTI community, nor should we try to centre ourselves in this debate. Instead, we can show our support.
There is no logical reason that same sex couples shouldn't marry if they want to and we should say so. The homophobic rhetoric we may get in return can be hard to hear or to read but remember, it isn't aimed at you. It is not you these people are trying to diminish, oppress or other. You can help by being a shield between those attacks and the people they are intended for. Dilute the arguments against same-sex marriage with reason, logic and kindness. If you believe that same-sex marriage should be a thing we have here, please, keep saying so.
Will it change hearts and minds?
Maybe a few, but probably not many at all. That's okay, because it isn't the point. The point is to support our fellow human beings. To let everyone who is effected by this issue know that those voices in the anti-same-sex marriage camp might be loud, but they are few.
The debate has already well and truly begun online. Here are a few of the more common arguments I've already read and rebutted over the last few days:
"But their children have a right to a mum and a dad!"
No, they don't. This is not enshrined anywhere.
Besides, same-sex couples are already having kids. Much like heterosexual people, they are able to reproduce without a legally binding marriage contract. And the studies show they're doing a bloody good job. It's worth asking people who take this line if they also campaign against other family situations- single parents, children being raised by grandparents, widowed parents and so on- or do they only actively campaign against gay parents?
"It goes against tradition!"
Tradition is not a valid reason to continue a practice that denies someone a basic human right. The evolution of our society has seen us change or abandon many harmful traditions. Let this be another.
"In the bible, it says…"
It says many things that have no place in the laws of this country. Some politicians are making a lot of noise over Muslims but in reality, it's the so-called Christians in our government who are the real threat to the secular democracy we are supposed to be. And this "debate" is a prime example.
If you want to follow the bible, that's your business. No one is stopping you. A gay couple getting married will not impact you or your relationships.
"If we let two consenting adults of the same gender marry, what's to stop someone marrying a child or their cat?"
This one is easy. The thing that stops us marrying children and household pets is CONSENT. Kids and animals are unable to consent to marriage. Same-sex marriage would still require the participants to be consenting, human adults. I cannot believe that this needs to be explained. If a person thinks a marriage between two consenting adults somehow justifies a human-cat union, they have problems that might just be more pressing than the plebiscite.
"But they already have equality! It's just a piece of paper!"
Nope. If the LGBTI community already had equality, they would be allowed to marry like anyone else. If it is "just a piece of paper", then what's the harm in issuing said paper to anyone who wants it?
"I'm entitled to my opinion!"
This is so often the catch-cry of people who have a belief that they cannot otherwise defend. You can have an opinion but that doesn't make your view correct or valid. You aren't entitled to an opinion, enshrined in law, that contributes to the oppression of a group of people and that violates someone's actual rights. If you would argue otherwise, you need to take a long and hard look at yourself.
Just try to be an ally.
What I'm suggesting is being a good ally. Support LGBTI voices who are taking the time (despite the personal cost of doing so) to educate others on what damage this debate is already doing to them and their community. Speak up where you can. You know that expression about bad things happening because good people stand by and do nothing? This is, I think, one of those times.
I know there is talk of a boycott and I can understand why. It feels so very wrong to essentially vote on a human rights issue. But this is a non-compulsory, postal plebiscite. If we boycott, our views simply won't be counted. This plebiscite is non-binding. Essentially, the government will only vote on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage if the majority of the plebiscite respondents say 'yes'.
If there is a majority of responses in favour of same-sex marriage, the government can still vote against it. But if we all vote yes and make this plebiscite reflect what the polls have shown for years, perhaps the politicians who represent us will be forced to listen.
#IBOT @ Capturing Life.
#Gifs via Giphy.