Nine years ago I wrote a newspaper column about how the Prime Minister didn’t consider gay relationships as serious as straight ones.
Back then, nearly a decade ago, I wrote that the top Australian politician had decided that if you were in a gay or lesbian relationship your coupling was not as serious as the ones that we heterosexuals have (or in my case used to have since I am now a confirmed but very happy spinster).
I wrote that column about John Howard. It was published in June 2004.
In those dark days of Howard’s “children overboard” and “illegal immigrants” reign, his parliament also changed the Marriage Act to read: Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
The reason put forth at the time for such a significant change was that there was “significant” community concern about the possible erosion of the institution of marriage.
At the time I argued that perhaps the amended legislation was a necessary measure by a conservative government to ensure that gays and lesbians were never given the opportunity to beat us straighties at the marriage game.
Imagine the outcry, I said then, if future census info was separated into gay and straight marriage data (although in hindsight that would be another crap example of segregation) which showed that divorce rates for gays and lesbians was much lower than for heterosexuals. Of course, to a Tory-mindset, those sort of results would never do.
Fast-forward to 2013 and Australia is still debating its “I do ideology“ even though we have a Labor, and supposedly liberal in the true sense of the word, government.
Meanwhile across the ditch in New Zealand, less than 24 hours ago, the country of my birth was the latest nation to pass same-sex marriage legislation – under a conservative government. New Zealand’s parliament became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalise same-sex marriage when it voted 77 to 44 in favour of its gay-marriage bill.
But here in Australia, we continue to wait for equality. I really don’t know why I’m surprised given that New Zealand, the much-maligned little cousin over the Tasman Sea, has often been historically more politically and socially astute.
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, recognised maori ownership of their lands and other properties, and gave them the same rights as British subjects. And in 1893, New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote.
Of course there are many advantages to living in either country but as the proud sister of a gay brother; a strong supporter of a beautiful gay cousin; and a good friend of many gays and lesbians, I just want them to enjoy the same rights as I do.
It really is as simple as that.