I was a young student at university when Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill was introduced to the House in 1985. Back then, over quarter of a century ago, it caused an uproar. And back then, as now, groups sprang up in support of the bill. I recall one group in particular: HUG, or Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays.
I was puzzled by HUG. Why did one need to assert one’s heterosexuality in order to support decriminalising consenting homosexual sex between men aged 16 or over? I thought that a person who was truly unafraid of gay men wouldn’t need to run up a banner to declare themselves straight.
I see the matter a little differently now. Perhaps it’s just the passage of time, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Perhaps it’s because I have come to realise just how malleable sexuality can be. Perhaps it’s because I have been happily ensconced in a monogamous relationship with a man for so long now that I am very secure in own identity as a straight woman. Perhaps it’s because New Zealand society as a whole is much more accepting of difference. To me, there is no great import to declaring my sexuality. It just is, and that’s all there is to it.
But of course, I am free to say that, without consequence, because my sexuality is accepted, and acknowledged, and even valorised by our society. What I see now is the great need for people like me, straight, accepted, acknowledged, valorised, to stand up and say that it is important to work to create the same possibilities for all people in our society. Not just say it quietly in the privacy of our homes, but OUT LOUD, in public. There are no consequences for me declaring my sexuality: there can be enormous consequences for the boy in Stratford, the woman in Hokitika, the lad in his first job labouring on a farm, the girl sitting in the pews every Sunday listening to homophobia because her parents make her go to church. We need to shout, as loud as we can, that there is a massive amount of support for gay and lesbian New Zealanders, to have exactly the same rights and privileges as New Zealanders who are straight. A huge number of people who are straight support marriage equality, and support people who are lesbian and gay, just because. And that’s all there is to it.
That’s why I’m part of Straights for Marriage Equality in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s part of the shouting and clamouring and agitating for change.
In a perfect world, I’d be looking for really extensive change to our marriage laws, so that they worked for bisexual and polyamorous people too. But I’m not about to let the perfect defeat the good. While my longterm ideal is for people to be able to form households and homes and marriages in whatever configuration they like, with the support of the state, I will at least support and work for this particular change, that people who are gay or lesbian can enjoy the same rights as people who are straight. It’s a start.
If you’re on Facebook, you might like to like Straights for Marriage Equality in Aotearoa New Zealand.
I almost can’t find anything to write about the Marriage Equality Bill which is now before New Zealand’s Parliament. Not because I don’t think it’s important! It’s a vital step in making sure that all New Zealanders have access to all services provided by the state, in this case, the recognition of the status of their relationships as valid. If the state is going to register marriages for some New Zealanders, then it shouldn’t be telling other New Zealanders that they’re not good enough to be married. To me, the arguments in favour of marriage equality are so obvious, and so well rehearsed, that it almost seems pointless to go through them again. And now that the Prime Minister has said that he will support the bill, it seems very likely that it will pass.
But over at The Hand Mirror, Luddite Journo makes a very powerful argument for keeping on speaking out and talking and writing and making a great clamouring for marriage equality.
Queer people will have to listen to homophobes telling us there is something wrong with loving someone of the same gender, that “homosexual relationships” are not normal. This will be painful and horrifying and dangerous for queer people in ways it will be difficult to describe to our straight friends. …
For that gay kid coming out in Te Awamutu, this debate will be terrifying. For that closeted bisexual public servant, this debate will be painful. For that lesbian who wants to leave the church and her husband with her children, this debate will be life-threatening. For all of us who don’t look like the gender norms we’re supposed to, this debate will be dangerous.
The bigots are out in force already, shouting their nasty words in the newspapers and on-line. We need to get the other stories out there, to take apart each horrid claim, to show the sheer absurdity of the anti marriage equality arguments.
So with that thought in mind, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago, in support of marriage equality: On marriage for lesbian and gay and other non-traditional couples.
Or you could take yourself over to Ideologically Impure, where the Queen of Thorns has a great series of posts:
Merv Duffy is wrong, dangerous, and unnecessary
Colin Craig: why is anyone listening to this dude, again?
“Those people” are a “problem” – gosh the Nats love their revealing language
Protect marriage! No, really
And across the Tasman, BlueBec has some great opinions: Strapping on the ranty pants – Marriage Equality edition (again)
And that reminds me of the one sad lack in the current campaign for marriage equality – it’s all about couples, and only couples. It would be good if it covered polyamory too. However, just as I supported civil unions even though I wished it went all the way to marriage equality, I will support this bill, of course, and then wait until we can take the next step.
Last week I had an opinion piece in the Dom Post, in which I argued that if the state was going to be involved in the marriage game, then it ought to make marriage available to all its citizens – gay, lesbian, straight, trans*, threesomes, foursomes, whatever.
The state has no business in the marriage game. It does have a legitimate interest in noting who is in a committed relationship. As a society, we want to be able to tell which people happen to be sharing accommodation as mere flatmates, and which have amalgamated their interests for the foreseeable future.
We allocate rights and responsibilities on the basis of those amalgamations, such as welfare entitlements and tax credits, and obligations to support other people. But why should the state care about whether those committed relationship households are based on male/female couples, or same-sex couples, or trios, or whatever?
It is unfair the state gives a certain status (marriage) to some households but not others. Either the recognition ought to apply to all, or none. Anything else represents the state picking and choosing among citizens, saying some are more worthy than others. That ought to be anathema in an egalitarian society.
This week, Bob McCoskrie has an opinion piece in the Dom Post, in response to mine,
arguing saying something along the lines that marriage is between a man and a woman and allowing anyone else to get married would lead to children getting married to goldfish. Or bestial unions.
I don’t know whether to splutter in indignation, or roll around the floor laughing in derision.
I have an opinion piece in the Dom Post this morning.
As always, the subbing is not mine. And this time, the editors have taken one word out. Perhaps they thought that it was going too far to suggest that “quartets” should be able to get married. Or perhaps they just thought that the sentence read better without it.