Have your say on same-sex marriage
Amber McBride and her partner Annabelle Keene celebrated 10 years of being together this year.
Had they been a heterosexual couple who married in 1999, it would have been their aluminium anniversary.
However, as they are both women, they do not even have the opportunity to marry in Australia.
“We may not even want to get married but we want the option. We believe in equality,” Amber said. “I feel discriminated against.
“It’s basically totally unfair that we don’t share complete legal equality like everyone else.
“In terms of next of kin, being married is a unique status recognised by governments all over the world. Establishing a spouse as next of kin means they have an official say when it comes to legal matters, medical decisions and things like funeral arrangements.
“I think complete legal equality would go a long way to ending discrimination and helping to end homophobia.
“It’s a basic human right. I don’t want to be feeling like a second class citizen; I deserve freedom of choice.”
Next Thursday, November 26, members of the public are invited to take a quiz testing their knowledge of the world history of marriage.
Community members will set up the “village barrow” in Magellan St, and hope to engage people in talking about community attitudes regarding same-sex marriage.
For Amber and Annabelle it’s a discussion they’ve had many time before.
“I personally like the idea of a ceremony, celebrating love, however, we probably wouldn’t go in for the big occasion,” Amber said. “Marriage isn’t important in terms of our relationship – it’s based on love, respect, honesty, equality and communication, just like everyone else.”
Amber said she felt the stereotype of a young woman only finding happiness in a marriage to a man was unhelpful and unrealistic.
“I think it’s incredibly sad and narrow-minded given the complexity and reality of relationships,” she said. “They come in all different shapes, sizes and genders. Love has no gender.
“It would be a great thing to see the mainstream media promoting what is a healthy, happy relationship as opposed to some kind of social construct of something unrealistic for young people to be aspiring towards.”
Amber said she thought it was ridiculous that same-sex equality was still an issue.
“Who knows, if there was total complete legal equality we may choose to get married – it’s just not within our reality so it’s very hard to imagine,” she said. “It’s been that way for too long.
“I can’t believe how boring it is to be still banging on about this – I’d rather be playing roller derby.
“Hurry up and pass the Bill, that’s what I say.
“It seems outrageous to still be fighting for equal rights.”
Angela Pollard, one of the organisers of the Lismore event, said it is part of a nation-wide launch of a 12-month campaign for same-sex marriage equality, commencing with the expected release of the Senate Inquiry’s Report on the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill.
“Contrary to popular belief, marriage has changed a lot throughout human history,” Ms Pollard said. “King Solomon of the Bible had 700 wives, the pharaohs were keen on marrying their sisters and fraternal polyandry (a wife married to two brothers) was practised in Tibet.
“Traditional Aboriginal laws meant that lovers were banned from marrying if they belonged to the wrong tribal groups. Until the 1960s, blacks and whites in the USA could be jailed for intermarriage. Historians have even found evidence of same-sex marriage in the early Greek Orthodox Church.
“Individuals are entitled to their own views of marriage, but in a modern secular society, does the government have the right to exclude groups from marrying? Recent surveys have shown that a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage but the Rudd government has ruled out changing the marriage laws.”
Ms Pollard said the Australian Human Rights Commission has come out in support of same-sex marriage and many European countries now have same-sex marriages or civil unions.
“Recently the Lutheran Church in Sweden started holding religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples,” she said. “Come along to the village barrow and have your say about the future of marriage in Australia.”