How to stand up for what you believe in
Today I posted my plebiscite survey. It’s not very often that our democracy gives us the opportunity to stand up for what we believe in outside of the electoral cycle.
We’re all familiar with processes of elections and the public (and annoying) campaigning that goes along with it. We size up the offerings and make our votes on the which team has the best fit with our own beliefs and values.
As the national marriage equality plebiscite train leaves the station, it’s uncomfortable to see one section of our community singled out in this way.
What is even more uncomfortable is the reality that one section of the community gets to choose whether another section of the community gets the same rights as them. It’s more than uncomfortable, it’s disturbing.
The same sex marriage context of the plebiscite is a red herring. Let’s be clear - this plebiscite is about equality and our rights as citizens.
I don’t want the power to decide that others can’t enjoy the rights that I have. I don’t want to be asked to decide whether same sex relationships have the same validity and value as mine. I don’t want to to be part of a process that allows the community to be disparaging about the children and families of same sex couples. I don’t want to hear our elected representatives commenting on the sexuality of our community or on the way our citizens live their lives. I expect our Government to do its job and ensure our laws enable equality.
In the absence of our Government doing what is right, we are having the plebiscite we had to have. I have had to put my own reservations aside and participate in the plebiscite (and I give no thanks to our Government for putting me in this position). Despite that, I truly hope the survey delivers a resounding YES! Yes for equality, yes for the rights of same sex couples, yes for love.
I’m trying not to think about what will happen if the outcome is no. How will we manage that as a community? Will no voters be cheering in the streets? Will they feel entitled to disparage same sex couples and their families? Will our Government really accept a position where we continue to deny rights on the basis of sexuality? It would be a very sad comment on our society and too awful for me to contemplate right now.
Why can't I be asked something I would love to say no to? How about asking me if I want to a big dirty coal mine on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef? Do I want Australia to blindly follow the US into a provocation with North Korea? Do I want us to put refugee children in detention? Perhaps we could throw in a few more questions and get a bit more bang for our $122m bucks?
Regardless of your view on same sex marriage, as a matter of principle we should all be concerned about the Government’s willingness to ask us about very personal, individual and private matters but at the same time, to claim a mandate for making big decisions about issues that affect all of us like climate change and war.
That’s why we have to stand up for what we believe in and express our views whether we’re asked or not. And no, it’s not always a comfortable place to be.
I don't expect everyone to agree with me and I know I have family and friends who hold different views to me. It can be confronting and challenging to put my views out there but it's all part of shaping the kind of community and society I would be proud to be a part of.