The plebiscite sure may be a fun word to say, but it’s presence in the news is a contemptuous one. The marriage plebiscite, a vote put to the people on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised. Just like a referendum only it doesn’t change the constitution, or have any binding implications. That’s right it’s a big vote with no real consequence, an $160 million dollar opinion poll.
As young Australian’s we like to think of ourselves as a progressive society, democratically minded, thoughtful and wary of injustice. When in reality the senate doesn’t reflect this, thanks to an aging population we have the Christian Democrats and One Nation thrown into the mix. The plebiscite is being used as a diversion tactic, throwing money at an issue with the hopes of showing Labour just how many people are against it. Although Malcolm Turnbull isn’t against gay marriage, his hands and feet are tightly bound by the far right wing faction of his party.
Or in the case of politicians, turning up to Mardi Gras does not make you an expert.
What gives me the right to make a judgment on someone else’s life? Potentially barring them from living in matrimony with their significant other, because of fickle reasons or a scent of hate. If instead a stranger perhaps a group of strangers told me I couldn’t marry for a similarly unjustified reason there would be outrage. Inflicting your beliefs, your misunderstanding or lack of exposure to difference does not equip you to vote with the implications in mind.
For a child of same-sex parents questions are sure to arise, marriage is such a normalised thing. Why aren’t you married, how come you’re not husband and husband or why didn’t you get married, all likely to be tossed around. The innocence of a child querying his parents about why their love is any different to Sally’s parents down the road.
A marriage plebiscite would be like making a bullied kid listen to the school bullies debate whether they want to keep bullying him or not.
— Queensland Pride (@QueenslandPride) June 23, 2016
The arguments against same-sex marriage lack coherence, they talk of the sanctity of marriage, argue that heterosexuality is the only way, defend their thoughts with religion or descend into pure vitriol of hate. A plebiscite would not solve these issues, it would bring it into the open exposing what same-sex couples face everyday.
Unwed women, children out of wedlock, working women and people of colour have all experienced it, the hate, the exclusion, the disdain. And though it’s not a level playing field just yet the efforts towards equality are still striving. At least we like to think so but hey, people are debating the racial discrimination act so who knows.
Having watched enough Will and Grace episodes does not qualify us to understand the hardships of the LGBTQI community, legalising gay marriage is merely extending a comforting hand and including them. Or in the case of politicians, turning up to Mardi Gras doesn’t make you an expert. The plebiscite is just a political token, a show of good will but will likely not amount to change. Same-sex couples deserve better.