of us at the library knitting group yesterday. Normally there would be fifteen or even eighteen. Where everyone else was remains a mystery.
Those of us who were there did not need to assist each other as often happens so the conversation was wide ranging. One of our members had made some interesting mittens. You start at the top of the thumb and work around until, eventually, you come to the end of the cuff. The design is clever and interesting but also practical.
I thought of that as I pedalled home.
A friend of mine was clearing some of the debris which falls from the gum tree on the footpath outside his property. He does not need to do this but he believes, rightly, that it constitutes a hazard to passers by. It is typically thoughtful of him. He is the sort of person who puts the bins out for elderly neighbours. I know he has occasionally taken them to medical appointments and provided other assistance.
He just happens to be "gay". He has lived with another man - the same man - for about forty years. They do not make an issue of this. You do not see them, as he puts it, "holding hands in the street".
Yesterday it was clear my friend was upset. The debris was being attacked with vigour.
He waved me to a stop as I came up to him. It seems the "gay marriage" issue had come up yet again the previous evening - and ended in a furious argument.
Like many of their gay friends he and his partner are happy with things as they are. They feel no need to "get married". If a "civil union" of some sort was available they agree they would take advantage of that but they are apparently not, despite popular belief, looking for more.
I find his attitude interesting. His partner feels the same way. I have met some of their friends who also live in same sex relationships and it seems that they also feel the same way. Not one of them has ever directly asked me what I think - they would not regard it as any of my business - but they know I have a first cousin who is in a civil union with another man. My cousin's partner also happens to be one of the nicest people I know and very much part of our extended family. Marriage is not an issue for them either.
My friend does not yet have the option of a civil union or marriage here. As he says, "all it would do is make our relationship formal in the eyes of the law".
I suppose I know several dozen people living in same sex relationships. I don't know them well but none of them appear to want to get married. They certainly do not campaign for marriage or attend the rallies. Some of them might take advantage of a formal civil union if it was available. Others would not even bother with a civil union.
I don't know whether the people I know are exceptions to the rule or if the campaigners are the exceptions to the rule. I do know it is a divisive issue.
Perhaps the solution needs to be like the mittens though. Perhaps we need to start at another point and work out something practical and interesting and different for everyone where adjustments could be made to fit a particular relationship.
I just wish I knew what that solution was.