Sunday, 26 May 2013

There were just six

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.  


Judy Edmonds said...

I suppose the point is that they don't have the options to chose from. Lots of heterosexual couples chose not to get married, because the choice is available to them. Some homosexuals do feel strongly about it, and I know some of them. I do believe it is about the availability of choice.

Anonymous said...

Celebrants can already do a civil service here. I think the problem is something quite different. There are some same-sex couple who want nothing other than marriage. Civil unions would not satisfy them. If they get "marriage" then they will just go on to the next cause in their lives. They are professional activists.
I have nothing against civil unions - everyone should have that but I do not think the term "marriage" is appropriate when applied to same sex couples. If anyone reading this can tell me of any past culture or religion which allowed "marriage" between same sex couples then I would be interested to hear of it because I can't think of one. Ros

jeanfromcornwall said...

The point of civil unions is fiscal - civil partners can inherit tax free, and get any perks that can be passed between spouses. That didn't help a fairly recent case of two very aged sisters, who had little money, but lived in the large family home where they were born. They were facing the fact that, as soon as one of them died, the other would have to uproot herself and sell her life's home to pay the inheritance tax. This came to public attention, since they asked to have a civil union - and were refused because they were related too closely.
I strongly suspect that a lot of the activists who are demanding marriage and no less are, maybe subconsciously, thinking that it will give added spice when they "play away" as they are very likely to do - just as plenty of straight people do.

catdownunder said...

I think you are right about that Jean - judge in same sex relationship here challenged the fact that his partner would not get recognised for purposes of superannuation.
I assume you mean the Burden sisters? That is where the state should, at very least, delay the imposition of the inheritance tax until the death of the second sister and then take it from estate. They sometimes do that with council rates and so on here. It seems a commonsense sort of solution.

jeanfromcornwall said...

I think you are naming the same pair of sisters that I was thinking of. As so often happens there was a big fuss in the media for a while, and then nothing more was reported. It was long enough ago that I would imagine that the situation has resolved by now, but I never heard what happened, or that there was any bending of the rules - perish the thought!

Anonymous said...

Of the few same sex couples I know none are interested in marriage, though would like defacto/civil union recognition for legal reasons, the same as mixed sex couples.