Tuesday, 13 August 2013

I think I have

mentioned before that my first cousin is in a same sex relationship. His partner is very much part of the family. He is a gentle, caring, witty and intelligent man with a very responsible job. My cousin's life would be chaos without him. His partner is the sort of person who manages to organise things and get things done. I am never too sure how he manages to handle my cousin so well.
They live in London but we usually see them at least once a year. My cousin's mother is still alive although now living in a nursing home. My cousin's partner still has his parents and siblings here.
I also have another, more distant, cousin in a same sex relationship. We see less of her and her partner but they are still family and we just accept the relationship.
I also know other people in same sex relationships. I once went out for the afternoon with a man who is in a same sex relationship. His partner had a violent migraine and there was a spare ticket going to a Festival event. They were visiting from Canberra. I was the only person he knew in the city. It was an event that would be attended largely by people in same sex relationships but he was confident enough to ask if I would like to use the ticket. I did. I had a marvellous afternoon too.  What is more I would do it again because they made me welcome even when made aware that my sexual orientation is not theirs.
I really do not have a problem with people who have same sex relationships. I really do genuinely believe that a person's sexual orientation is their affair.
I do have a problem with the politicisation of sexual orientation however and, it seems, so do many people in same sex relationships. I was actually stunned by the strength of feeling of some people in same sex relationships who are angered by the way that the present Prime Minister is now using the issue as a means to try and garner votes. These are people I would have thought would have been (a) strong supporters of the issue of same sex marriage and (b) likely to vote for the party the Prime Minister represents. It may in fact be that they are still both but at least some of them appear to be genuinely angered and upset by the Prime Minister's statement that he would introduce legislation to change the Marriage Act within the first hundred days of a new parliament if he is re-elected.
It is being seen as cynical - and it is. When you think about it of course there is no guarantee that (a) the legislation will actually be put up or (b) that it would actually get passed. There have already been failed attempts. If the matter went to a conscience vote it might get through but one party has, so far, refused to give their team a conscience vote.
I am also of the belief that this should not be an election issue. It should not be a game changer. It is not something that should be used to try and garner votes.
It is a bi-partisan issue and it should be resolved that way. My friends in same-sex relationships tend to be older people who have had the same partners for many years. Marriage, they tell me, is not an issue. Some of them have had commitment ceremonies. They have written their wills in favour of each other and so on. All they really want is a legal recognition of their relationship so that things like superannuation benefits can pass between them. They do not feel a need to get married.
Perhaps a younger generation of people in same sex relationships feels differently. I don't know. I really rather doubt it. There are three young couples I know who have had commitment ceremonies as lavish as any wedding - and two of those couples have also parted company. It seems no different from marriage and the processes and heart ache they went through were no different.
There is no need to politicise "marriage" in order to see that people in same sex relationships get treated equally in the eyes of the law. Civil relationships can be recognised without that, indeed are already being tested in the courts with wins for same sex partnerships. It is likely that same-sex relationships will soon be fully recognised in law.
It seems to me though that the Prime Minister is determined to make something of it just in order to win votes. He claims he has changed his mind on the issue. It is a road-to-election-conversion and I do find that objectionable.


Anonymous said...

I have experienced similar reactions.

Personally I think the legal recognition needs a new word rather than a new definition for the word marriage. 'Gay' has been redefined to include recognition of homosexuals, and it has become hard to find a suitable time to use it with any other meaning. Perhaps they can make a new word instead of hijacking one already in use.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more Cat. Word around the hallowed halls has it that the conversion is political not personal. Chris