Getting married was never on my agenda. I didn’t dream of it as a little girl. I didn’t want for it as a teenager. I never aspired to it as a young adult.
Now as I write and reflect on 23 beautiful years and 2 children with my partner I don’t believe it has anything substantive to offer me I don’t already have. But and there is a big BUT born out of a sense of knowing that what I have is no less important and should be viewed no more differently than another person who is in a committed relationship, who might also have children through that relationship, who might have shared joys and passions through that relationship, who has shared good and bad times in that relationship. There will of course be differences between our relationships but the thing that really sets us apart; the thing that really makes a difference and causes such dissonance is only the sexuality of our relationships. Mine same; yours not. Beyond that difference we are the same.We are in love, we are committed to each other, care for each other, look out for each other; provide the basic foundation upon which we each exist. Does this difference really make a difference to you? Does it really debase you and your relationship if we were to share this right of privilege (privilege of right)? To be able to marry.
There is really only one piece of legislation that defines this difference and this is the Marriage Amendment Act 2004. The Act which defines marriage as ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others…’
A powerful piece of legislation that enshrines a notion that this difference between us is paramount and must be guarded in law; that all the things that make us the same are, somehow, less significant. What is it about this piece of legislation that it has to be so sanctimoniously guarded; that only a particular type can be sanctioned by the ‘state’?
One piece of legislation that I have had the need to tell the children that we do not have a choice. The all powerful law sees us different. We teach them that laws are to be obeyed. That there are consequences if laws are broken. But this law is different it can’t be broken; it itself is broken. Our children rush to defend us, to protect us from a law that makes no sense to them; “it’s ok I will marry you”. But it is not ok. It is not just about me/us and what I/we want. It is about them, it is about our friends and family who may wish to marry. I may not wish to marry but what of the desires and dreams of my children? What if they grow up and find themselves at odds with this Act? The changing of this legislation is not important to me as a means to an end but as a means to a beginning.
While this piece of legislation is allowed to continue to stand in its current form it is effectively legislated discrimination. This despite the fact that we have numerous pieces of legislation that say this is not on; not acceptable. It is effectively saying we are something less; continues to create a space where true acceptance is out of our reach.
Ten year ago today – by Jacqui Tomlins
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