In 2008, much to the dismay of Californians and people around America, a constitutional ammendment passed overturning the right of LGBTI people to marry – although partnerships that took place before the law was in place were honoured after a lawsuit was filed by two same sex couples. I had the absolute priviledge of being part of some of the pride rallies that took place in Washington as I was there for a festival and ended up staying (for 3 months, another blog for another day.. trust me) and the anger, disbelief, outrage, and just genuine betrayal that LGBTI people felt was palpable. There had been a concerted campaign by the Christian Right to destabilize the regenerating movement and the prop 8 campaign was funded largely by the Latter Day Saints (mormons) the bankrolling by the mormons lead to the production of down right disgraceful tv ads like this one:
annndddd this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj5sMUm_hCw&feature=related
proponents of the amendment trotted out the usual lines, it was absolutely NOTHING original at all. our kids would be taught gay marriage is ok, gays do not have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us. etc. opponents of the amendment were arguing largely from a legal equality base – LGBTI people have the right to be fully protected under the law – and this includes marriage. What astounded me at the time was just how downright frightened everyone was. People honestly believed that by continuing to allow equal marriage, the world would end. The campaign both for and against were funded enormously, with the campaign being the highest funded campaign outside the presidential race and in the end a very narrow vote in favour of the amendment was passed.
A short while ago I received a text message from a friend in Washington who had told me the ban had been repealed. to say I was surprised was an understatement. I knew there’d been rumours, but hadn’t heard anything concrete and was definitely not paying as much attention as I should have been. It is my firm belief that the protest movement had a massive role to play in the repeal. the protests in 2008 lead to several lawsuits being filed in the state supreme court and the cases were held under review. it wasnt untill today that a judge suspended the law pending appeal. so, in short: protest, it works.
Given this, I now have the priviledge of living in one of the most homophobic countries on earth..
why do you say that? some might ask. Homosexuality isn’t illegal, you’re not executed or subjected to corporal punishment for being same sex attracted or transgendered. And I think every deity i can number for that. However, I do live in one of the very few countries in the world to specifically state, to the exclusion of all others that marriage is the union between men and women. The ban on same sex marriage came into affect on August 13th 2004, when the co-alition government, with the full support of the ALP in opposition, amended the marriage act. This prompted massive rallies in Sydney and the institution of a National Day of Action on the anniversary of the ban each year. Last year was the National Year of Action for marriage rights with a continuation of that in 2011.
Countries with otherwise atrocious human rights records such as Israel and South Africa have recently introduced same sex marriage, with the most recent addition to the list of countries passing legislation being Argentina. Argentina’s centrist government was under pressure to grant same sex marriage rights after the election of left wing governments in other parts of the continent who were beginning discussions on the rights of LGBTI people. since this blog was written Mexico City has also introduced same sex marriage and venezuela and cuba are also considering the introduction of same sex marriage with venezuela taking up the issue through its system of communal councils ( areas for local discussion which then decide which areas get taken to larger systems of government for voting)
last week i was part of a 3 thousand strong rally in Melbourne that demanded equal rights for same sex couples. It was one of the most inspiring and downright beautiful marches I have ever been in.. I was severely apprehensive about attending as last year as some of you you may know I was a victim of a hate crime in Saint Kilda from which i still suffer severe post traumatic stress disorder. Even though i was terrified initially, it was incredibly liberating to know that this is a struggle we can win
we can win our rights, to be viewed not just as men and men or women and women or transgendered people, but as human beings.