I thought I was doing ok during this ridiculous, divisive debate in which my “fellow’ Australians are being asked to make a decision about my life, my rights as a fellow Australian citizen, and therefore give their opinion about my relationship and my family. The survey arrived the other week and I left it on the table for days, I couldn’t bring myself to complete it. It felt like I was in denial and I kept asking myself “how can this be happening”?
We eventually ticked the boxes and posted them off. I didn’t feel the least bit celebratory, though we took the obligatory photo of the pieces of paper that asked us to validate our own existence; these expensive pieces of paper that have been delivered to millions of strangers so they can pass judgement on us.
Anyway, I thought I was ok. I had been buoyed by the polls in the last few years that told me 75% of my fellow Australians thought same sex marriage was long overdue. I was hopeful that our elected representatives would do what they were paid to do – lead the country, make decisions for the good of the nation, refuse to allow hatred and discrimination to inform their decisions.
Yet no, here we are with a non-binding, non-compulsory, astronomically expensive postal survey that has been shown to have no integrity (think stolen surveys, undelivered mail, envelopes dumped in the rain) and that has revealed a dark and hateful side of our populace. Sanctioned by a gutless government that refused to show leadership, a hypocritical government that refused to stand for equal rights. We’ve quickly became an Orwellian nation: all citizens are equal, except well, obviously, the gays are not as equal…and don’t get me started on those transgender ones…
I tell myself everyday not to read the newsfeeds and definitely don’t scroll down and read the comments, but it’s compelling stuff. Maybe I’ve been naïve living here in the bubble that is the Republic of Canberra, surrounded by people who are loving, kind, open-hearted, progressive and fairly egalitarian. The news, the posts and the comments devastate me. I read about people being bashed, being yelled at on public transport, I hear the “No” campaigners whine about being bullied (I mean, really? Really?). I read about people’s houses being vandalised, rocks thrown through windows, and vile language used to describe gay people – disgusting derogatory terms I haven’t heard for a very long time. I see how sad my friends are, I see how their mental health suffers and I feel how hurt we all are.
Every day my heart breaks a little bit more. I love my partner; we chose to commit to each other and we have built a life together; we celebrate and cherish all that we have. We have family and friends who love us. Yet there is this seething underbelly in the community that hates us, loathes our very existence, makes a seemingly simple question give them permission to spew vitriol over us.
What are they so afraid of?
*Photo credit: Google