On the 13th August 2011 I attended the best wedding I have ever been to. It was my own to my wife Michelle. However we have been receiving messages from all our guests saying it was also the best wedding they had ever been to. For many of our friends and family from Australia, US and UK this was the first same sex wedding they had ever attended. The wedding was not traditional. We didn’t wear suits or meringue style white dresses, there was no dress code for the guests either, there was no isle, there was no giving away by fathers but there was the sharing of our story and how we came to be marrying Amsterdam, there was a cake with a pirate ship and two lego men on top, there was laughter, dancing, singing and most of all there was love. The celebrant at our wedding told us how incredibly proud she was to be in a country that was the first to give marriage equality to it’s citizens and that this year was the 10th anniversary of that in The Netherlands. She also told us that, for her, same sex weddings are the cherry on top of the cake because she knows the journey to that point has been far harder (opposed to the expectation of marriage from families for heterosexual couples). My daughter was invited to join the ceremony and to give her approval of the marriage. I have never seen my ten year old weep with joy but she did. At first I was alarmed by her tears but when she stuttered out that she was “just so happy” I nearly melted into a puddle on the floor myself.
This is all great but on October 12th I am returning to Australia. A country where Members of Parliament just this month are appearing at meetings of the Christian rightwing condoning prejudicial statements inciting hate towards gay people. These speakers claimed there is “no greater evil” than same sex marriage! These people claim if a country allows same sex marriage next there will be paedophiles demanding to marry children. The vast majority of Australian’s support marriage equality. If this was put to a public referendum in Australia it would be passed immediately. How disgusting is it then to be in a ‘democracy’ that is controlled and puppeteered by a small group of rightwing bigoted Christians. How can we call Australia a democracy when it violates the rights of it’s people, goes against the will of the voting majority in order to appease bigots and homophobes.
Same sex marriage is not a step toward the abuse of children, in fact quite the contrary. Same sex marriage is about the freedom for adults to love and commit as they choose to whom they choose. Same sex marriages are often a better environment for raising families. I argue that marriage equality, like any progress in recognising equal rights for all humans, reduces abuse of children. The abuse of children due to a homophobic culture has been prolific. Parents and medical practitioners have subjected their children to torture that refuses to recognise the diversity of humanity and to love it in their children, psychologically and physically abusing them for not conforming to heterosexual and heteronormative expectations. The homophobia of our culture has resulted in vast amounts of deaths of children many times at their own hands. The truth is that homophobia, hate and prejudice as that expressed by these people lead us towards abuse not away from it. You need only watch this three part series to see the horrendous potential such views have to do damage.
The Netherlands have had marriage equality for 10 years. They do not have adults marrying children and they never will. The association of adult consensual love with child abuse is a ridiculous lie. What The Netherlands does have is a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world. It does not have gay teens committing suicide in droves because their parents are so deeply programmed to be homophobic that they don’t know what it is to love their children unconditionally. I have married the love of my life and together we will provide my daughter with the family environment she has never had before no matter who she is or who she falls in love with.
LOVE LOVE LOVE