One small step for Gays….

On Tuesday night, Wifey and I watched a live telecast of Qld Treasurer Andrew Fraser introducing a private members’ bill called the “Civil Partnership Bill.”

While this in no way provides what marriage would provide at the federal level, it is a small step forward to having our relationships recognised in some form, and also shows that our state government is serious about ending discrimination.

What I admire most about Andrew Fraser, and the other MPs who have come out in support of this bill, is that finally, someone is standing up and saying  they are just doing “what’s right.”

As a result of the introduction of this bill, and watching a youtube video released by Gus Johnston (you can see that here: Gus Johnston: The reality of homophobia in sport), Wifey and I had a discussion about what the Civil Partnership Bill means to us.

We’ve already had our Big C (commitment ceremony) in front of family and friends, fully aware that it in no way conferred anything legal onto our relationship. The fact that we could soon be able to have our relationship legally recognised by our own state means a lot more to us than we first thought.
I think Wifey said it best. She said “it’s personal”. When people say they don’t understand the obsession “us” gays have with marriage, it’s because they don’t understand what it’s like to grow up being gay.

They don’t understand how lonely it can get trying to hide a part of you that shouldn’t really matter.

They don’t know how it feels to be closeted, and to not be brave enough to stand up to people when they use derogatory terms to make other people feel bad, all the while not realising they’re actually talking about you.

They don’t get how much courage it takes to tell the people you love and care about that you’re just that little bit different to them, and risk losing them in the process.

Or how every day of your life, you have to make assessments on the fly of people you meet to decide whether you tell them that your partner is of the same sex because you’re thinking of their feelings and not your own. Or to not mention anything at all that might let on that you’re gay for fear of ridicule or condescension.

To hear people you don’t know make judgements about your character, based only on stereotypes and ignorance, and about such a small part of your being, and then expect you to not take their opinion personally.

All of these things combine to make you feel like you’re less of a person than your straight sisters, brothers, parents and friends. It makes you feel that no matter how good you are as a person, how much you contribute to your family, community and society, that you are not as worthy as a heterosexual simply because of the person you fall in love with.

Wifey and I discovered something very important today. We discovered it’s apathy from people like us, who stand by waiting for those people who have the power to change things to do what’s right, that is the reason for nothing getting done.

We are not activists. We are two people in a community who are discriminated against. And I am saddened to think that it is partly my fault for not calling people on the things they say and do that hurt me deeply. I have never had the courage to stand up and fight, because I really didn’t understand that I should, or could.

So what are we doing about it? We are going to see our local member to let him know that we are proud of him for standing with Andrew Fraser, and for doing what is right. We are going to ask him what it is we need to do to make people realise how this one piece of legislation will have such a positive effect on so many peoples’ lives. We are going to stand up and say that it’s not ok to treat us any differently, and that we are the same as any other couple in this state and in this country. We are a loving, committed couple and we want the same things as every other loving, committed couple, which includes the legal protections that relationship recognition affords.

I have never asked anything of my family and friends except for love and acceptance. However, if you do want to help this change come about, and if you do want Wifey and I to be treated no differently to you and your wife/husband, you can do one simple thing, and that is to go to your local MP, write, email, whatever, and let them know that this legislation is important to you and let them know why.

The simple act of Wifey and I being able to register our relationship as a legally married couple can, will mean the world to us.

And for those of you who are wondering, yes, there will most likely be another Big C to celebrate.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been thinking about this Civil Union thing a little more seriously over the past couple of days, since it hit the news headlines (and facebook newsfeeds).

    Things I don’t like about the proposed Civil Union legislation:

    (1) It’s being introduced at state level. I wish it were being done at federal level. Why should a Civil Union be available in Queensland but not in another state.

    (2) It still won’t be possible for same-same couples (even in Civil Unions) to adopt.

    (3) Andrew Fraser (et al) are not doing a good job explaining how Civil Unions compare to ‘de facto’ relationships, and how this legislation will impact on people in de facto relationships (positively or otherwise).

    (4) It’s still not marriage. And it’s about bloody time Australia had men marrying men and women marrying women, and it’s about bloody time Marriage Celebrants didn’t have to say that rubbish about ‘a man and a woman’.

    Things I like about the proposed Civil Union legislation:

    (1) It applies equally to couples of any gender combination. (Too bad the media is so skewed on the proposed Civil Unions being gay gay gay same-sex same-sex same-sex, rather than reporting it factually, as being for all. Sigh.)

    (2) It gives male-female couples the option of receiving the legal protections of a civil union which marriage would otherwise provide, if they so choose. Except, of course, they wouldn’t be able to adopt. (Because only MARRIED couples make suitable adoptive families, did you know that?)

    (3) It provides simple documentary ‘proof’ of a relationship, which may come in handy in the event of a legal or medical issue, or death of one of the partners. I have fortunately not had to deal with this kind of scenario myself, but I suppose that if you are in a de facto relationship, it would be harder to prove, especially in the event of an emergency.

    (4) Related to the point above, there are some countries in the world that recognise couples who are in a civil union for the purpose of immigration, but not if they are only de facto (I have heard this is the case in Ireland, for example). In Australia, this isn’t an issue (so long as you can prove you have lived together as a couple for 1 year or more), but for Australians travelling, working or retiring overseas, being able to simply prove the relationship status would probably help. That being said, I’m not sure why the government doesn’t just allow de facto couples to apply for a certificate stating they are in a de facto relationship, which act as the same thing. Hmmmm, maybe because ‘de facto’ is short for ‘de facto marriage’?

    (5) And, further related to the point above, although Australia has a long history of recognising de facto couples (of which we can be proud – not forcing couples to marry to get certain rights, like in the US and many other countries), the term ‘de facto’ is not well understood outside Australia. So, adopting the term ‘Civil Union’ for Australian de facto relationships would probably help communicate these relationships more easily internationally.

    But, would I get a Civil Union? I don’t see the point. I’m already in a de facto relationship, and I don’t need a piece of paper to prove it.

    Marriage, on the other hand…