Gay marriage

Twirling towards freedom

An Awkward Conversation

Almost two years ago, when gay marriage was legalised in New York City, my new-ish boyfriend and I exchanged smirks. “All those New York hipsters who talk tough about not getting married until their gay friends can are going to be having some awkward conversations tonight,” he said. At the time, we laughed together, but that same excuse we ridiculed is one I’ve been relying on increasingly ever since. 

It’s wearing pretty thin now, but also looking a little shaky.

This week, while couples all around the world are celebrating love, international governments are starting to do the same. France’s lower house of parliament passed a bill early this week to legalise gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Last week, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to approve a similar bill, indicating that same-sex marriage in Britain will soon be legalised. At home, Byron Bay’s mayor has said that he will personally officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies. "Even though within Byron it might be a bit token,” Councillor Simon Richardson said, “at least within Byron we will acknowledge your wedding, we acknowledge your marriage, we acknowledge your partnership.” Mayor Richardson also has plans to build a symbolic love park. “I think sometimes local government has that role in a sense where federal government fails to meet the expectations of the people,” he explained.

Our major parties’ stance, though, seems to be this: “Some of our best frontbenchers are gay!” (Cue shuffle offstage mumbling platitudes about how marriage is “between a man and a woman.”) It’s a tactic that must have worked in the swing electorates, but is increasingly out of step with the bulk of the country. We don’t need to sign petitions or take to the streets any more to know that most Australians are in favour of gay marriage; poll after poll have already established that. The 10-year-olds who have grown up watching Glee are hardly going to bat an eye when same-sex marriage is eventually legalised.

For the discernable future at least, I’ll be able to avoid commitment by fleeing to my home state. Reports have arisen from within the Katter Australian Party of division rippling through the ranks, after Mr. Katter endorsed a supporter of gay marriage. Katter’s backing of the party’s ACT Senate candidate, Steven Bailey, caused one source to warn that the party could “implode” over the decision. For his part though, Katter remains firm. He threatened to walk out of a media interview last week after the issue was raised, and snapped, ''We don't think about it. We don't discuss it. You're preoccupied with it. You have a problem with it. We don't. It's not on our agenda.”

It may not be on Katter’s agenda, but he’s got to be starting to feel a bit lonely out there on that limb.

When New York passed that law, I wasn’t certain that Australia would follow along any time soon. But surely if Britain can pass a same-sex marriage bill, their colonial cousins will follow suit before too long? Marriage may not be for me, but I shouldn’t be able to make excuses that hinge on an archaic law to get out of it. Everyone should be made to have that awkward conversation.  

Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire is a journalist and the author of Last Bets: A True Story of Gambling, Morality and the Law and the Penguin Special A Story of Grief. Visit her blog, Twirling Towards Freedom.


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