In 1962 America, a couple named Richard and Mildred decided to get married. No big deal, I hear you say. But back then it was an enormous deal – an illegal one, in fact – because Richard was white and Mildred was black.
This simple fact made their marriage illegal in sixteen states across America – including Virginia where the couple resided.
One night, police broke into their house and arrested them. Much to the disappointment of authorities, Richard and Mildred weren’t having sex at the time so they couldn’t be charged with the crime of ‘interracial intercourse’. However, they were still jailed and charged for being married with the judge ruling that their marriage was now void, stating that ‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red and He placed them on separate continents. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.’
In 1967 two civil rights lawyers took Richard and Mildred’s case to the US Supreme Court where the Interracial Marriage Act was overturned. In their unanimous ruling, they noted that: ‘The freedom to marry has long been recognised as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.’
The idea of two people being banned from marriage because they have differing skin colour is a ridiculous one to consider in 2012.
So my question is, how the hell is it still acceptable for two people to be banned from marriage based on their sex and sexuality?
When we hear people speaking out against same sex marriage, it usually has something to do with God, religion or the bible. I find this to be most ironic considering marriage didn’t start out as a religious institution. For most of European history, it was simply a business arrangement. Love or God had nothing to do with it. The church remained anti-marriage for quite some time. And in this day and age, you may choose to get married in a place of worship but that’s certainly not what makes your vows legal. Explain to me all the people who get married at the beach, in their backyard, in gardens and who compose their own vows… Marriage is a civil union so why the hell are some taxpayers allowed to take part and others are not?
A lot of these same people say that it’s ‘detrimental’ to their own marriage. If two people are in love, and want to stand in front of their friends and family pledging their love for one another and their desire to spend the rest of their lives together, what does that have to do with your marriage? How can that possibly be to its detriment? Does Kim Kardashian’s definition of marriage affect your marriage? Certainly not.
Statistics show that every third marriage in Australia will end in divorce. Marriage certainly isn’t the sacred thing it once was to a lot of people. So while heterosexuals are walking away from their marriages in droves, there are gay people trying to go in the other direction. Except their path is barricaded by governments and religious leaders because…well, ‘just because’. Nobody seems to be able to come up with a very good reason beyond ‘just because’.
Marriage equality is something I feel extremely passionate about and I am eager for the day that same sex marriage is legal. I have two main reasons for this – apart from what I have discussed above – and for the simple fact that I believe it is a basic human right.
One of my reasons is that when I have kids, I want them to be able to have the choice to get married regardless of their sexuality. I want them to grow up in a world where we are all treated as equals. No matter whether you are gay, straight, transgender, bisexual, black, white, short, tall, skinny, fat, Christian, Muslim, atheist or if you have three legs or two. I want my children to have every opportunity in this world.
My other reason – and one that I have held close to my heart for a very long time – is for my Uncles to have the opportunity to get married. They are a gay couple who are still very much in love and they have one of the best relationships I have ever been witness to. For someone to tell me that they do not deserve to get married absolutely kills me. I could sit here for hours and discuss all the valid and varying reasons why they should have the choice to get married (and there are plenty!) but take this one for instance… They have been together since just before I was born. I was born in 1987 which means I am turning 25 this year…
So why, oh god help me why, are idiots (I’m talking about the Britney Spears’ and the Jennifer Lopez’s here) with no concept of true love and commitment allowed to get married at the drop of a hat but my beautiful, gorgeous and devoted Uncles are not?
And what about my many friends who are also not allowed to get married? The majority of them aren’t even in a relationship at present let alone thinking about getting married but I want them to be able to have the choice.
‘Tradition isn’t an argument for anything. It’s an argument against change.’
Come on, Australia!