Bolt: I want marriage equality for all


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

by Stephanie BoltRainbow wedding ring

Last Monday, my brother Andrew Bolt published a column presenting his views in opposition to same-sex marriage. I belatedly attempted to post a contribution to the lively blog debate. When it wasn’t published, I knew I didn’t want to leave it there — being a lesbian in a committed relationship I want to participate in the conversation happening across the country, tell my story and, in doing so, hopefully make even the smallest difference to the long-running campaign for marriage equality.

As my family will recall, I came out when I was 21 years old. Like many in the GLBTI community, I was awash with the relief and joy of recognising and expressing such a fundamental part of who I was. Again, like many, I experienced much uncertainty about my value to the community and the fear of rejection.

For the most part though, I feel fortunate to have received respect and love from people important to me as I made those first tentative steps out of the closet. That, of course, is not everyone’s experience. Rejection by parents, siblings and peer groups is not altogether uncommon and low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide can be the terrible result.

Even with my good fortune, I have felt the effects of ignorance, fear and hate by others: fearing for my life, I was chased down city streets one night by a group of drunk teenagers for holding hands with my girlfriend; I have been verbally abused and taunted about my sexuality when playing sport; and I have felt on social and work occasions the discomfort or disapproval of others upon hearing the word “girlfriend” or “she” in relation to my partner.

Some gays and lesbians view their relationships as equal to those of straight people. But I know of others who would admit to feeling “lesser” or, even if they don’t, are fed up with receiving negative physical, verbal or other signals from the world around them.

Offering civil unions seems a reasonable compromise from the position of any straight person who has not ever had to question for a single moment others’ acceptance of their relationship or their right to choose to marry the person they love. Offering civil unions sends a signal that, to me, says I am lesser.

I’m then told that civil unions are in a legal sense similar to marriage and, therefore, why should it not be embraced by same-sex couples? If it’s such a palatable alternative it’s then fair to ask why it’s not embraced by many more heterosexual couples?

To point out the blindingly obvious, many of us regardless of sexuality want to get married; we want the ceremony that is such a significant marker in life’s journey. There may be little that legally separates the two, but socially and culturally there’s a chasm.

Marriage is touted as one of our most enduring traditions. Traditions are organic; their foundations are laid in the past but they grow and evolve over time. Granting me and my partner the right to marry — to have our loving and committed relationship recognised in law and by the community — doesn’t erode that tradition; it builds upon it.

My partner and I celebrate two anniversaries. We first held a “commitment ceremony” at home witnessed by many of our family and friends on a stormy Adelaide spring day. It was the day I told the world I would love my partner forever. It was the best day of my life.

However, it wasn’t until we married in the simplest of ceremonies one month later in Canada that I sensed a legitimacy and belonging I wasn’t expecting to feel. I think that’s because I have built a layer of protection against judgement and negativity for many years around my sexuality, my relationship and, now, my young son.

It may seem naive, but having that certificate in my hand made me untouchable, secure, normal, and for those wonderful few weeks, I could drop the shield. It’s disappointing beyond measure that my brother and others who share his views don’t wish that for me and everyone else like me.

I want marriage equality. At the very least, I wish for a rational and respectful debate.

I trust that more thoughtful consideration of this issue will prevail and, whether under this government or another in the future, my wife and I will finally see our relationship legitimised.



17 thoughts on “Bolt: I want marriage equality for all

  1. “But marriage has always been between a man and woman!”

    Yes, very good darling. But, you see, that excludes a number of people from the same rights, so we want to change it.

  2. I can’t take it any more, I have to say something. I am sure, most opponents like myself’ are usually to busy with our families to give this, what a sensible person would think was futile concept, any energy. Well I have to say something.

    We want!!! What a shallow comment, sound like one of my children’s responses for something they cannot have!
    It seems to be a dollar based WANT when you study it. They still have the same rights as everyone else.

    What the homosexuals really have in a relationship, is not any different to a business arrangement or business partnership. Register a name with Fair Trading and buy everything in partnership name, courts can deal with dissolution easily and fairly. You can have your piece of paper and a registration number, what is the problem! You can have assets in joint names everything you say you want. Or is it all you want! You are not a part of the school of MARRIAGE.

    There are ways that their issues can be dealt with without belittling history. What will we WANT next! Marry the pet you love and get a surrogate/donor to procreate! Come on, get this in perspective.

    I cannot believe that we are even considering such a topic in what is supposedly civilized society. If not for the need of headlines, media probably would have no interest, and the sad topic would be left where it belongs, in the backstreet bar downtown.

    Historically, there have been attempts by whimsical groups to expand on the meaning of marriage, and they were so right weren’t they. Remember the Mormons and their many wives for one! They believed they were right and they had some public sympathy, but, honor prevailed. And now here we are with another fanatical group! But now the media is hot online and any nobody can get their message out there. What is with these groups targeting children in our schools for SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT. More voters in the future for them. I noticed they had my kids sympathy from about 12-14, but after that, once they became a little more worldly and with a greater thinking capacity, they had another opinion. Their own!

    Throughout history, until @30 years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Were we wrong all that time, or are we wrong now. If these people really believe this WANT is valid, maybe history was right, it is a mental disorder because this is not educated thinking. This is trivial thinking level. Just looking at themselves not as the speck they are in history, but somehow thinking they are bigger than

    In the plan from the start, homosexual activity amongst the community has always been there, but it is a recreational activity, not procreational, so why encourage it and what is the supposed validity based on? It has no contributing factors to the progress of life on earth.

    You may change the law of the land to satisfy your petite needs but it will not be a victory. It will be another sign of how democracy can be a sad thing and when it is over, and marriage returns to its true purpose again, there will be something else to mock all us from this era for another of our disgraceful mistakes.

    Shame on you, homosexuals are not meant to be married. You think it is about assets and pensions and being equal. How can that be equal to this!

    • Steve, you talk a lot, but at no point do you actually say what the harm is in two people who love each other marrying? I’m about to get married myself to a beautiful woman, and the idea of two gay men marrying doesn’t threaten my marriage at all-how does it threaten yours?

      “Throughout history, until @30 years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Were we wrong all that time, or are we wrong now. ”

      Wait, you think homosexuality was wrong because it was thought of as a mental illness for a longer time than not? Do you judge the relevant merits of a scientific theory based on A) The Evidence behind it, or B) the length of time it was supported for? Do you have a concept of scientific progress (ie We learn more things all the time that discredit previous theories)?

      If you are honestly telling us that as homsoexuality was considered a mental illness far longer than it was not, then here’s some other beliefs you must support, because people thought these were true for far longer than not:
      -The world is flat
      -Semen is a little child, having no input from a woman
      -Bathing is immoral
      -Children are just little adults, which can be given the same work and sexual demands as adults.

      “In the plan from the start, homosexual activity amongst the community has always been there, but it is a recreational activity, not procreational, so why encourage it and what is the supposed validity based on?”

      Everything you just said can be used to ban marriage for infertile heterosexual couples. Do you think, Steve, that heterosexual couples who are infertile or impotent should be allowed to get married? After all, while infertile sexual activity has always been there, but it is recreational, not procreational, so why encourage it?

      Hell, if you are actually believing that marriage is absolutely only in place to encourage procreational sex….then there’s another group you think should be banned. Older marriages. Couples staying together for years, where the woman has gone passed menopause, but the man is still able to impregnate another woman. Under your argument, allowing this marriage to continue, we are encouraging a recreational behaviour, not a procreational one, and there is no point to it.

      But you want to know why we would be encouraging “recreational” sexual activity, instead of merely thinking “Hey, people love each other-they should show that love in a committed way if they want”-you need an actual reason for why it improves society, even though you don’t ask that of EVERY SINGLE heterosexual marriage.

      Well, here you go!

      We’re encouraging not sexual activity, but commitment! People in a committed relationship tend to live longer, have fewer health demands from the government, and have greater chances for support if their health does deteriorate. By health improving, more work is done.

      “marriage returns to its true purpose again”

      Oh God, marriage and it’s true purpose again. You do realise the concept of marriage has changed over and over again. Hell, remember when marriage didn’t include mixed relations, or old men were allowed to marry kids? How whack was that? Oh, I forgot, it was seen as wrong for far longer than it was accepted, therefore you agree with it (By the way, you better get rid of that toilet, because humans have been shitting in a bucket for far longer than we’ve ever used a toilet).

      Even in the Bible, the concept of marriage changes every 22 pages! It’s first the union between a man and his mutated rib. Then, by the time of Abraham, it’s between a man, his wife, and her maid-you supporting that? Then it grows to a contract between a rich rapist and his victim, a king and 700 women, a man and his brother’s widow, and on one or two occassion, a man and his daughters. Then, under Jesus, all those old laws were knocked out (One of the reason why Christians like you and me can eat shellfish).

      So…please tell us, where do you get “Marriage”‘s true purpose? And remember, if you repeat that marriage is only about procreation, then I expect you to go out and ban marriages for infertile couples, as this is, under your reasoning, just as wrong as gay marriage.

    • Two things:

      * How can you compare two people being in love to a person who enjoys bestiality?
      * Are you really concerned that population growth will cease if homosexuals are permitted to marry?

    • Steve, the fact is that 120 years ago people like you used the exact same arguments to prevent women from getting the vote.

      “It’s always been that way.”
      “Women are not equal to men.”
      “Give women the vote and the next thing you know they’ll want to get a job. Then what? Equal pay?”

      I hope you’d agree that societal changes over this time have been extremely important and your wife (presuming you’re married) now enjoys the same rights that you have. How would you feel if she was denied the same basic rights you have? How would she feel?

      I’m also interested to hear, as other have asked, how two gay people getting married effects you.

      • To add something to my earlier post, I am married to a wonderful woman and we have two children. For me the concept of marriage would only be enriched by knowing that it was a purely inclusive institution which every single member of society was able to participate in equally.

    • Guess what Steve I am happily shacked up with an opposite sex partner and we have no intention of either getting married or of having any more children, since we already have children from previous relationships.

      But I guess you probably don’t approve of older couples past child bearing age in relationships either.

      What we would like to see is our gay and lesbian relatives and friends having the right and the choice to marry or not to marry, as we do.

      Also many same sex couples have children, either biological children or adopted children, so the “procreation” argument just doesn’t hold water.

      So how does that fit into your rigid world view?

  3. Pingback: Linkspam of the gods December 2011

  4. I am going to be different here and say, as a gay man myself I am quiet happy with civil unions. Stephanie, I went through similar experiences to you. We all did. And I appreciate your fight for equality. But you know what? We are not like them. We are not straight. We are not expected to produce children. I am getting really tired of a movement that is expecting us to hetrosexualise ourselfs at the expense of who we are as individuals and a community.
    At a time when half of straight marriages end in divorce, when less and less straights are marrying and birth rates are dropping, why are you advocating a return to the past?
    I mean seriously, will this be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for us, especially when you consider that alot of gay men cant have a relationship longer
    than six months. Mabey we should all try and work on how we treat ourselfs and how we treat each other before we start jumping the gun so to speak.
    I just think there are more important things out there for the government to deal with than this. Whats the point of marrying my partner if I am retrenched and lose my house? And the last thing ill be thinking about, while stuck in traffic on the M1 is a wedding, thanks to the cost of living going up and wages staying stagnant.
    Anyway, I hope I was’nt too offensive, take care

    • dennis, many heterosexual people would share your view in terms of their own relationships. But the crux of the argument does not come down to what you want to do with your own relationship, or what I want to do with mine, or what the guy next to me on the bus wants to do with his. The point is, we should all have the same right to get married, or not to get married, or to be in a de facto partnership or civil union or whatever other categories there are.

      If one pair of consenting adults is allowed to do something, then every pair of consenting adults should be allowed to do the same. It should not be determined by what bits they have. If straight people have the right to get married, whether they then go on to honour the commitment, whether things fall apart, whether they change their minds, or whether they make a joke of it (a la Kim Kardashian) then same-sex couples should have the right to get married, too.

      I always say… if you’re against same-sex marriage, then don’t have one. If you’re against marriage full-stop, don’t have one. That’s fine. But it’s not cool for you to expect everyone else to want the same things as you. We should all have the right to choose.

      • but see thats the thing…we ARE not like them. marriage was a contract made by society/the state for people to have babies, up until 50/60yrs ago, in most places marriage was a business contract between two families
        My grandmother entered into a arranged marriage like that. If your fight is for gay marriage and you believe that is the best thing for you and yours than I applaud you. I suppose Im just questioning the fact that we’re comparing apples with oranges, when I think they are totally different and should stay that way.

        • I would debate that. My parents were married 50 years ago and it wasn’t a contractual business. They married because they were in love.

          In any case, in instances where marriage was contractual… as you referred to, it has changed since those days in a large proportion of modern society. And it wasn’t always about procreation, it was often about fathers getting a price for their daughter, or security in their older age through the marriage choice for their daughter. Sure, it still happens in some cultures. But as a woman I would reject any notion that we should have any nostalgia or desire to have marriage be something that involves the trading of women as commodities, and so I reject any such notion of marriage in that sense.

          In this day and age, for most couples, marriage is about celebration of love and about making a willing commitment. Some don’t feel the need, but others really relish it. And you may want to see a difference between gay and straight, but fundamentally I do not, and nor do many of those who want to get married.

          Again, my point is not about what I want, or you want. It’s not about my opinion of whether marriage is good or bad, or what it was 100 years ago or way back when it was just a pagan ceremony. It’s the fact that I, as a straight person, have a right to marry someone if my other half and I choose to do so. And I don’t think there is any justification in denying two other consenting adults that right if it’s what they want. Whatever marriage was, or whatever it means to people, we should all have an equal right to take part, if we wish. And for those who see marriage as something that doesn’t, in meaning, match what they have with their other half… they have every right not to get married.

          So if you don’t think marriage fits your situation, then it’s quite simple… don’t get married. But if others choose to take that path, how does it honestly affect you in your own personal life or affairs? Live and let live.

  5. Hey There Mindmadeup,
    I take your point, Hypothetically, let’s say God exists.

    He already knew that you and your future husband/wife were going to get married on that specifc date and last a specific amount of time the very second time came into existance. After knowing about it so long, wouldn’t it seem redudant? Especially when he’s already known how their marriage will end/last for an equal amount of time?

    And if God really didn’t want to recognize a marriage…wouldn’t he deal with that matter privately, with say a thunder bolt, surprise car accident, tidal wave, etc.? It’s unlikely that God is going to make an obvious appearance and vocally ask the wedding to be stopped, as that goes against his usual style.

  6. I think a lot of people marriage for other reasons other than religion these days, therefore any consenting adult of any sexual orientation should be allowed to marry. Does anyone else find it mildly amusing that the anti-bogan in this article and the bogan in this article share the same last name?

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