Growing up, my Australian education consisted of watching “Crocodile Dundee” and listening to “Down Under” by Men At Work. Today’s generation may be more familiar with Australia via YouTube videos of terrifyingly large spiders and venomous snakes.
I suspect that if you asked the average American if marriage equality is legal in Australia, most would say yes. But it is not.
It hopefully will be soon, as the majority of Australians support marriage equality, which was reaffirmed by a national postal survey (aka a voluntary mail-in ballot) in November that found more than 60 percent in favor of L-O-V-E. But it’s Parliament’s move, as it ultimately has the power to pass such laws.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of same-sex couples saying “I do.”
Pauline Hanson, a senator for Queensland, is more of an “I don’t” kind of gal.
According to a speech Hanson gave to Parliament, people who want marriage equality are “pushing their own agenda” and “selfish.”
She describes sex education as “messing around [with] the minds of young children,” and says that kids shouldn’t learn about “body parts” until they’re 14 or 15 (never mind the fact that plenty of 14- and 15-year-olds, gay and straight, are already using these “body parts” for sex stuff).
“I have no problems with people being in love and doing what they want to, but why do you have to … push [it] on the majority of the population?” Hanson asked.
“I have grown up of the opinion that marriage was between a man and a woman,” she said in her speech, “but I do not take away the right of people to be in a relationship and to find happiness within themselves.”
Which is cute and all, but insisting that gays and lesbians exist solely “within themselves” is essentially demanding that they stay in the closet, which means that they don’t exist out in the world.
It’s a common refrain from the antigay camp: “If people want to love each other, fine, but I don’t want to have to see it or deal with it or acknowledge it in any way.”
It’s as if gays and lesbians are expected to exist on the fringe of society, rather than as a part of it.
The fact is, we have structured our society, for better or worse, around legally codified relationships, and excluding same-sex couples from legal recognition erases them and paints them as illegitimate. This is true in the U.S., and it is true in Australia.
So if it’s “selfish” to demand equal rights, then I’d say that’s a good reason to be selfish.
Of course, Hanson and those like her believe that what’s truly selfish is raising children with two moms or two dads, a concern that takes its cue from the lie that gays and lesbians are a danger to children.
Hanson’s nightmare scenario involves a kid going to school and being told by a teacher, “I want you to draw a picture of your mum and dad or grandma and granddad.”
And she pictures a kid saying, “What am I going to do? I don’t have a mum or a dad — it’s Peter and Sam. It’s Elizabeth and Amanda.”
You know what my kid does in these situations? He draws a picture of his two moms. It’s not that hard.
But to see through to this obvious answer, you have to actually see two moms and two dads as capable and worthy parents. Hanson doesn’t.
As a marriage bill bounces around in Parliament, let’s hope that Hanson is able to find happiness within herself and can stop trying to snatch it from same-sex couples.