THE acting Labour leader Tanya Plibersek has called for Labour MPs to vote for same-sex marriage, meaning that the issue will no longer be a conscience issue.
Well, it’s about time. The issue of same-sex marriage is one that should have been simple, and has been blown into a huge, national debate.
What should have happened is that Australia should have legalised it. Long ago. Instead of dancing around it pretending it’s something illegal, or in some way harming us straight folk with our proper family values and good jobs.
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Allowing two people who are in love to marry – regardless of gender – does not hurt anyone, and quite frankly I’m sick of listening to people who say it does.
For some people, same-sex marriage is an issue of religion; homosexuality is forbidden and therefore two people of the same sex can’t get married.
But this view is increasingly narrow-minded, since there are plenty of other horrifying sins that are completely legal. Drunkenness, for example, or living with your partner outside the sanctity of marriage (and, one can assume, having lots of sex).
If religious folk want to disagree with certain lifestyles, then by all means: teach it to your followers, preach it from street corners, sing it loud and proud.
But it should not be reflected in the legal system. ‘But we’re predominantly a Christian country’ just doesn’t cut it any more.
Ms Plibersek has called it “legal discrimination” and she’s absolutely right.
No one is forcing anyone to get married. But by continuing to treat same-sex marriage as a religious or conscience issue and not as a issue of discrimination, we’re forcing people not to.
New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and most of the United States – along with a large handful of other countries – have all legalised same-sex marriage, and, amazingly, their countries haven’t fallen apart.
In fact, they’ve simply continued on how they were.
Legalising same-sex marriage will ultimately have little impact on the vast majority of Australians. But it will change everything for those who desire the same rights that heterosexual couples have come to expect.
Just as importantly, it will take us all one step closer to an Australia that is inclusive and discrimination-free.
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