Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Voting 'Yes' to Marriage Equality

I'm going to surprise very few people when I say this but I'm voting 'Yes' in the upcoming Marriage Referendum.
Being honest I think the only person I surprised by declaring that news was the canvasser who arrived at my door yesterday who wasn't quite prepared for me going from a 'Who the bl**dy f**k is ringing my f**king doorbell?!' look on my face with my guarded stance to 'Oh, it's you! Of course I'm voting Yes!' open stance while yelling that exact same thing.
I didn't want to keep him long, I was already a sure vote so I let him save his energy and enthusiasm for a future doorstep.

This brief encounter got me thinking, it's hard to walk down the street without seeing a poster endorsing a 'No' vote, but in every newspaper, radio interview, tv appearance, website, I've noticed that the supporters of this 'No' side are frequently claiming to be silenced. The national podium they are legally bestowed under the banner of 'balance' must be rigged with a faulty mic, the column inches written in Esperanto, the radio chatter a dulled cloud of static and white noise as if the entire broadcasting tower was going through a tunnel, their YouTube ads endlessly buffering at the start of the latest Taylor Swift video, their websites and Twitter pages just reading a sad solitary '404'.
Taking all of that into account, I had a thought had I really ever considered voting 'No'? Had I really heard them out?
So, I rigged my personal supercomputer (read: my brain powered by some strong tea) up to all of the noise, committed as much effort as it deserved, and filtered out the following FAQ to really hammer out the 'No' side's argument and ask the questions they want people to ask themselves.

So, here it goes, I'll argue my way through the 'No' campaigns talking points and see what version of myself pops out the other side.

What will this referendum mean?
It will mean that gay people can get married.

Ok, and as a result what will happen to marriage?

But I heard on tv that my marriage is in danger if gay people are allowed to marry?
For all intents and purposes your marriage will continue on whatever path you have set your sails to. If that's going well for you, then so goes it. The only way your marriage could even be affected by a passing of this referendum is if your significant other is a little unsettled by your constant pulling back the curtains of society to peak into other people's lives before trying to have your personal, legally unsubstantiated, discrimination declared relevant.

But won't marriage mean less?
Look, nothing means less to me than other people's relationships. Nothing.
Yours, wrapped in the cloak of marriage as it stands, means something in the eyes of the law and to you personally; if this referendum passes then you'll still have the same constitutional protections as always, and your "Look what my other half bought me!" posts on Facebook will still get the same number of likes. Neither the law nor society will look at you any different.
This referendum won't pass one minute and the next you'll look down as the ring around your finger slowly begins to fade out of existence, the pictures of your wall slowly having individuals fade out, your only hope for a continued existence to hop in a time-travelling DeLorean back to 1955, to rock out at the Enchantment Under The Holy See Dance, and pray to god that they can wrong any rights.

But won't I have to explain my marriage to people now? If someone asks "Are you married?" I'll be forced to clarify "Yes, to a woman." That places a direct burden on my marriage and my place in society.
When people use the word "burden" they normally refer to an actual hardship of some kind; if someone asks you "Do you have children?" is it a hardship to clarify the gender(s)?

Gay people already have civil partnerships though, it's the equivalent of marriage, they use the words "I do" at the end of the ceremony!
When the dull-faced woman in the deli asks me if I want lettuce on my sandwich I don't start trying to draw parallels between saying "I do" there and in marriage vows. Finding a two word overlap isn't proof of any kind of equivalence in the two things separate things.

But marriage is between a man and a woman! It's what's best for the children!
If the simple idea that a man and woman being married meant that children were guaranteed an amazing and fulfilled life then we'd never have any need for organisations like the ISPCC, Childline or Barnardos.
That's like just saying "The church, which is the bedrock of marriage, knows what's best for children!" - Nominating a faceless entity and embuing it with the idea of infinite perfect knowledge is great in theory, but in practice leads to a somewhat *ahem* checkered delivery on those ideas.

What does that mean?
It means I'll be damned if I'm going to let an organisation with an extensive past/ present history of child abuse - or at least mistaking septic tanks for creches - lecture me on what's best for children; organisations set up purely for the welfare of children (ISPCC, Childline, Barnardos) all fully support a 'Yes' vote in this referendum.

Where will babies come from?
OK, this is actually a tricky one to answer - Not because this referendum has a single f**k-d*mn thing to do with surrogacy or adoption, but because I have no idea at what level to aim my response to this seemingly simple question.
In the past one version of where babies come from is that a man had been willed into existence by a deity's sheer strength of will during a 7 day experiment, then had a gender-switched clone made, then that pair rutted to create a new baby offspring, and so on in that fashion until the law of diminishing returns brought us to where you are today.
That's pretty far back though, 'records' from that era up til now also detail the odd bout of spontaneous pregnancy in minors (attributed to that same god-entity), the odd goddess born from the foaming remains of her fathers castrated genitals, and some slightly more reader friendly analogies about storks and birds and bees.
If after all of these years and generations you still hold some doubt as to where children will come from in the future then I can only hazard a guess that in your head your 'No' vote is an attempt to prevent a future which features a stone head called Zardoz floating above the countryside distributing babies, all the while warning of the evils of the penis. So, no, this referendum has nothing to do with redefining where children come from.

It is, it's about surrogacy and adoption, about allowing people to create designer babies with an engineered biological history.
This referendum is not about eugenics. No.

But gay marriage will eliminate mother and fathers, effectively erasing them from the history books? 
No, gay chrononauts do not plan to use temporal singularity axes to cut down your family tree.

Look, marriage is exclusively about formalising the sexual arrangement between a man and a woman to turn her uterus into a baby-factory for squeezing out more god-fearing children! That's the law! If we allow gay people to marry won't that give them the government the legal mandate to provide these people with babies, possibly by stealing them from heterosexual couples?
No. Just no.

But marriage is for babies! Two men getting married is ridiculous! Heck, if passed this will open the door for two heterosexual same-sex people getting married! That's not about babies - It's a farce if the relationship can't bear children.
Two heterosexual but potentially sterile people have always been able to get married, two people past the age possible to have children can get married, hell, a man and a woman can get married today for no reason other than to sell the advertising rights to their wedding then get divorced days later; according to you all of these people have been pissing in the eye of your sacred "marriage = babies" beliefs for years and you haven't blinked once. Why now?

But isn't it possible that a heterosexual couple could have a baby and then they get divorced, the mother re-marries... A WOMAN... and this woman is given preferential parental rights over the father? That's giving preference to a homosexual couple rather than the biological father!
Stop right there - are you just taking a personal problem relating to your heterosexual lifestyle right now, gender-swapping your partner's new partner, and attempting to pass this off as a problem unique to the possibility of gay marriage? That's pretty disingenuous.

No, that's not it - this is a discussion that NEEDS to take place ahead of this referendum!
No, it isn't, if it's needed at all then it's a discussion that "needs" to take place about all marriages and divorces and whatever. And you're either here now making a case for the abolition of all marriage, or you're running in with a very blunt axe to grind and thought you'd swing it whatever target was closest, which just so happens to be one that you find personally repulsive anyway.

But couldn't a gay person create a weird synthetic baby, incapable of life unless given a human mother's milk, so they switch it out with a heterosexual couples baby and have them raise it - thinking it was there own child - only for them to steal it back some time later?
That's a fairy-tale, in fact, you're actually thinking of fairies there.

Whoa! I didn't use that term, I like 'those kinds of people' as much as anyone. I have gay friends, and my gay friends agree with me, if this referendum passes then gay people will be allowed to lay their eggs in another family's nest, and if that family reject the egg the gays will be allowed to LEGALLY follow that family around for life and destroy any home they live in!
No, that's a nesting habits of cowbird. It's a kind of bird. It does exactly what you described, just not as a relevant example to anything. Quit scare-mongering!

That's unnatural! Cowbirds? Cows. Birds. That's not nature. Something is either a cow or a bird, I don't recognise anything else.
Just because you don't recognise something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. We're not picking shapes out of clouds here, your warped perception compounded by ignorance shouldn't be at play.

Well, it's my legal right to shoot birds in this country, so if I see one of these birds I'll shoot it.
No, it's not, and you shouldn't.

I'll poison it then. That's what good honest folk in this country do to birds they don't recognise. That's the way it's always been.
Again, just because something has always been a certain way doesn't mean that it was now or ever was right. You can't shoot or poison or resist something just because you don't know what it is.

Well, I can, and no one can stop me. And if I have to take a hard line on defending marriage then I will.
How exactly?

Look, however gay people get children, can I force an agency which provides for the welfare of children to openly favour straight married couples instead of having to provide for same-sex married couple?
Can we create a loophole in equality to allow gay people to still be discriminated against? No.

Suppose some gays do get their hands on a baby. won't they mess it up? A child needs a mother and a father, that's just science.
A loving home, love, encouragement, education, there are so many things that a child actually needs. Strictly demanding that only a biological mother and father should have the right to raise a child is a pretty sh*tty stance to make. Considering that according to your exacting standards single parents, divorced parents, widows, foster parents have all been pissing in your eye for years now too - what has you blinking this time? The only time you seem to 'care' about an issue is when homosexuals are involved, are you sure you're not biased against them?

No! That's not what I said. I'm a perfectly rational person, and I'm entitled to my opinion.
That's all very questionable.

I'm not homophobic! I don't scream and run away scared when I see gay people on the street!
Oh my, what clever wordplay, you got me there - someone with as rich an understanding of etymology couldn't possibly have questionable motives. But is it safe to say that in the context of this referendum that you're definitely anti-gay?

No, it's not, I have gay friends, gay friends who don't want to get married - That should be very telling!
It's not. Lots of straight people don't want to get married.

If this referendum passes what can I do to make sure that gays still can't get married?
Nothing. Why would you even want to sabotage something like that?

I can ban them from having church ceremonies, right?
Well, in theory someone could. It seems ridiculously petty on the off-chance that they want a church wedding. Some same-sex couples are pretty religious, and a threat of a ban has the particular pitch of a scream of a child preparing to throw toys out of the pram just because he didn't get his way.

Then I'll just ban everybody from marrying in a church!
Again, that's a much louder scream, and more toys, it's not a more reasoned response.

Well, so long as society is intent on changing the traditions of marriage maybe we should change some of their traditions! First up, no church wed-dings. Second up, no more Wed-nesdays!
Come again?

You heard me, the Gregorian Calendar, also called the Christian Calendar, is named for my faith. Since we own it, we can do what we want. That's Wednesday's gone, the week a whole day shorter, and your entire economy f**ked.
Are you really in a position to make that threat? Or any of these threats?

I have some authority, the national broadcaster is legally required to to broadcast things I say in the interests of balance, so yeah, I think I'm in a pretty good position to say things.
Things that matter or are in any way relevant?

How dare you question me! This is outrageous censorship!
It's not censorship to to question people who speak in a public forum.

It is. And it's bullying to say otherwise.
It isn't. Pointing out when you're wrong isn't bullying.

It is. And I really think this is the problem with all of you 'Yes' voters, you're bullies!
I'm voting 'Yes' but I'm not a standard bearer.

You are. You cut down our posters because you're a bully and you hate freedom of speech! They are perfectly valid arguments against gay marriage!
I'm not, I didn't, I'm not, I don't and they aren't. I'm sure someone somewhere potentially has a valid point to make against gay marriage, but they aren't putting that point on any posters or in any of the 'No' literature around the country - Or in anything I've read in the last few weeks of your campaign for that matter.

You're just saying that because the 'No' posters were up first! They got people thinking!
Throwing a handful of fresh steaming poo against a wall during a conversation isn't adding to that conversation - It might be all anyone talks about afterwards, but it isn't strictly part of the conversation.

You don't even want to have a conversation!
I do, I really do. Just about the things that actually matter to this referendum.

That's not true, you're only inviting my questions so you know what to try to silence!
That's paranoia, and a self-defeating argument.

It's not, no one in this country knows the discrimination that a 'No' voter feels.
No one? That's a pretty heavy cross you've given yourself, are you sure you're able for it? There's a lot of pretty purile and hateful things being sent to 'Yes' campaigners and gay public figures, I think they're more clued in on discrimination than you are.

Companies like Twitter and well respected celebrities showing support for gay marriage only makes it worse, they shouldn't abuse their positions to spread their personal views! It only intimidates 'No' voters further from voicing their opinion.
So, is your problem that public faces are publicly supporting a 'Yes' vote or that you can't find celebrities who support a 'No' vote?

This line of questioning is completely uncalled for! From here on I'm going to be sticking my fingers in my ears and repeating my already stated concerns ad nauseam!
Ok. I'll just leave things there then.


And there we have it. I think I gave the 'No' side the serious and remarked consideration it deserved, now let's never speak of it again.

It's goes without saying that everyone should get out and vote this Friday, but it can't be stressed enough how important it is to vote 'Yes'. Society as a whole should be progressive, and if everyone in that society isn't treated equally then there really is no way forward.

Opponents of Marriage Equality seem only concerned with how it might affect their vision of versions of hypothetical families and how it could affect their perception of how they believe society perceives their belief system... To me it really is that stupid a series of objections, with no logical reason to vote no presented.

A lot of people have made statements during the 'Yes' campaign about how emotional it's been, how they've had to reach down inside themselves and pull out a part of themselves to lay bare every day, how this directly affects their lives and the lives of their families - it's remarkable that they find the strength to do this every day; I really hope the referendum passes, they deserve it as people, and we deserve it as a society.

Many great reasons to vote 'Yes' can be found on the Yes Equality website:

Whatever your reason(s) for voting (yes) on May 22nd, I'm voting 'Yes' because it's the right thing to do.

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