Things must change

This is a beautiful piece of story telling. It’s also for a very good cause. For reasons unknown Julia Gillard continues to oppose same-sex marriage. This is despite 60% or more of the Australian public now in favour of it. This little ad goes right to the heart of the issue – it’s not about politics, it’s not even about the law, it’s about something much more fundamental, the right of people to love equally, to feel and express without fear or favour, to be themselves utterly and authentically and celebrate that without discrimination.

We’ve come a long way in 25 years. Once upon a time the thought of legalising marriage between gay people could not ever have been contemplated. Like in many places to be homosexual back then was to be labelled a poofta by many people, and subject to ridicule, abuse, and much worse. AIDS I think made a big difference. Homosexuality was an underground activity, shunned, disapproved, ignored. For the very worse reasons AIDS brought gay lifestyles into the limelight. We, the heterosexual majority, were forced to consider what so many had previously refused to think about. Somewhere in that we recognised our common humanity as gay rights groups emerged and community acceptance of the rights of those outside the cultural middle-ground – race, religion, or culture – became much more general. Though I sometimes wonder at it, society is more mature now than it was before, better educated, and without many of the inherited prejudices so many before laboured under. Homosexuality is hardly mainstream, but it’s certainly not the strange and vaguely heinous thing it was once viewed as. In so many ways it has become just another variation on normal life, which is as it should be.

That is why the time is right now for that legal equality to be extended to all people who love each other, regardless of whether they are different sexes, or the same. There is still some opposition to it, evidenced right at the top by the Prime Minister. You sense that she is not personally opposed to it, but worse, opposes it on political grounds. It’s that 40% she is playing to, figuring that of the 60% in favour of a change to legislation many will either never vote for her, or will regardless. If my supposition is correct then it’s pretty tawdry politics, but consistent with the general standard we’ve become accustomed to.

Fortunately the worms are turning. The rank and file of the Labor party support a change even if their leader doesn’t. It’s heartening to see that many are willing to stand up for this, rather than play along with the party line. Ultimately I think Gillard will be proved to have been dumb on this issue, to have misjudged the politics and played down the wrong line. That too would be consistent. I believe she would be better off politically to have fallen into step with the great majority of Labor voters who support this, rather than play to the ignoramuses and bigots who never will. Morally, there is no question of what is right.

In this little 90 second ad we see the arc of a loving relationship as most people will recognise, the early flirtation and cautious moves, the hopes, the fun, the love, the highs and lows, the swings and roundabouts, and above all the simple commitment throughout that. It is a universal emotion regardless of the sex. Love is gender neutral: whether it is another man you love, or a woman it matters not at all. That’s basically the message of this ad, and why same-sex marriage should be legalised. We discriminate against love until then we allow for some, but not all. Check out the ad, and put your name down if you can.

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