Stephen Rainbow calls the government and society to task on the issues of same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption.
I agree with Bertrand Russell when he says, “The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people full of doubt.” But of some things I have no doubt.
As I stared across the circle at the Auckland Town Hall during a recital recently, one of these things became very clear. Two beautiful young men sat through the concert with their hands intertwined. The thought that their love is not deemed equal to the love of a heterosexual couple will one day soon be seen for the arcane absurdity that it is. This is what the debate about gay marriage is about for me.
For I am sure that just as we now look derisively upon “moral” arguments from the not too distant past that black and white Americans should not be able to marry, so will the fact that two people of the same sex should not be able to marry soon be considered equally as absurd.
So when I see the Herald reporting that 53.5% of those surveyed support gay marriage and 40% were opposed, my concern is about the two out of five people who still think that the apogee of relationship – marriage – should be denied to people of the same sex. There still appears to be an alarming number of people who do not wish to validate my right to marry the person of my choice.
It is 26 years since the right for men to have sex with each other was legalised and we were warned then by the opponents of Homosexual Law Reform (HLR) that it would mark the end of civilisation as we knew it. No one in their right mind today would say that HLR delivered up any of the unsavoury consequences its opponents had predicted.
Later we were warned about similarly horrific consequences about civil unions. Still, civilisation has not come to an end (and if there has been any threat of that it has come from bankers and religious extremists, not from gays).
So why is nearly half the population still opposed to legalising marriage between two people of the same sex? As someone who has experienced love both with a woman and with men, there is no difference in the love one feels within a heterosexual relationship and a gay one. Love is love is love. As the New Testament advocates, love is the most important thing, yet if that love is between two people of the same sex who want to translate their love into a marriage, they are forbidden to do so by the laws of our country. There is no earthly, rational reason why this should still be the case.
Along with changing our arcane adoption laws, we must be allowed the right to marry, if only because gay adoption and long-term relationships are already happening. The Australian census recently revealed that more than 30,000 Australians are living in same sex relationships (it is unacceptable that our census still does not address questions of sexual orientation, incidentally – this must change). There are probably far more long-term committed relationships between same sex couples in this country than policy makers either realise or care to admit.
If the concern is that gay adoption and marriage will be harmful to children, then I have to say that two of my three kids have been adversely impacted by the fact that their gay father had to leave the family home when they were young because he had fallen in love with another guy. If I had known as a young person that I could have had the possibility of a stable and socially-sanctioned relationship with another guy (including the possibility of raising a family) then my life – and theirs – might have taken a much different path. This is not hypothetical. I know of at least two guys in the last months whose text messages to other men have been discovered by their wives and who are now in deep crises about the future of their marriages and their families, including children.
The current government has a commitment to economic development and social policy is seen as a distraction. But the National Party also has a commitment to the principles of legal equality of all citizens and to individual choice. I want the choice to marry my partner including if that person happens to be another bloke. And need I mention that marriage has had a bad rap in recent decades with increasing numbers of them ending in divorce? The fact that gays want to get on board with this age-old institution should be grist to the mill for conservatives and be seen for what it is, which is the chance to revitalise an institution whose appeal has been waning. Gays have a long history of protecting and preserving civilisation and its institutions and on the matters of marriage and family we are yet again coming to the party! Why then would this government not adopt the legislation to end the legal discrimination against gays in the matters of adoption and marriage? They have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by finally removing the last legal discrimination against gays in God’s Own. | Stephen Rainbow