My Submission to the “Respectful Debate”

Words by Darcy Mounkley

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I had my first real crush one someone when I was about 12. They were smart and beautiful. They would recommend me books sometimes, which I would read as quickly as possible so that I could have an excuse to talk to them the next time we met. I didn’t really understand what I was feeling and why, I just knew that I wanted to get closer to them, to somehow communicate to them this baffling new feeling inside of me, in the hopes that they, as its source, would be able to explain it all to me.

I’m sure you know where I’m going here; you’ve predicted the twist already. I am a girl — my crush was a girl. Gay people exist. It’s about as shocking now to most people as that joke, ‘I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son!’ The surgeon was a woman. Ok. I’m gay and I get crushes just like any straight person. Ok.

You probably also know why I am sure the majority of people reading this will not be surprised or offended by the above story. The majority of Australians support same sex marriage and have done so for years. The LGBTQ+ community has fought for visibility and understanding, and have made considerable progress. In a 2013 Pew Research poll, 79% of Australians agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society.

There is absolutely no argument you can make against same-sex marriage that is not steeped in homophobia and ignorance.

Still, the morning I read the news that the plebiscite on same-sex marriage was planned to happen later this year, my heart sank but I couldn’t exactly say I was surprised. I and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community are well aware that there are people who will fight to make sure we don’t have the same rights as them.

I knew what this meant for our community, and you probably did too. It wasn’t about allowing us to hear “both sides” of the argument, or allowing for a “healthy debate”.

First of all, there are no two sides to this issue, the decision has already been made, and any plebiscite will simply be painfully delaying the inevitable. The people of Australia have responded overwhelmingly positively to the idea of making same-sex marriage legal, and the High Court has already ruled in 2013 that the definition of marriage in the Constitution includes same sex unions.

There is absolutely no argument you can make against same-sex marriage that is not steeped in homophobia and ignorance. Yet the government has decided to not do their job of representing the people, and instead to hand anti-LGBTQ campaigners a national platform to spread their hatred and misinformation.

These Campaigns will reach already vulnerable people, they’ll reach young people just discovering their sexuality, they’ll reach children who will not have the reasoning to know they are being manipulated.

Before I’d read anyone’s opinion of this plebiscite it was already humiliating and demoralising. What right do other people have to decide if I get the right to do something they are free to do so easily? I think what’s most painful about this for me is that it could have been so easy. None of this had to happen, and you begin to wonder why. Why did the Government not simply enact marriage equality? Is it so necessary that we are subjected to this farce of a debate? Why?

Our rights are being withheld while we are forced to listen to homophobes call us perverts, tell us that we will be punished for being inherently ourselves, tell us that our love is akin to paedophilia, or that it is not love at all.

This plebiscite is a joke, the sort of joke your out of touch, bigoted family member tells you, and LGBTQ+ people are being forced to laugh along for the sake of themselves and their community’s future.

I am tired and frustrated at all of this, the gay community is overwhelmingly tired and frustrated. If you believe that gay people should be able to get married, vote Yes. If you don’t, marriage equality is inevitable, I assure you, so let’s agree to stop wasting our money, time and mental health on this expensive display of political cowardice and vote Yes.

A reminder that you still have eight days left to enroll to vote if you haven’t done so already. The process doesn’t take very long and it’s well worth it to have your resounding ‘YES’ heard. Enrollments can be completed here: http://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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