As I look around my Facebook feed, I’m noticing the plebiscite has begun its reign of terror – people left and right debating with great aplomb whether myself and others like me deserve the right to marry.
I’ve seen a good number of allies go to bat for queer rights, and I’m so, so grateful to you for it. But if there’s one piece of advice I can give you that may save you a stress headache and me a mental breakdown it’s this:
Do away with words like “belief” and “opinion”.
“I believe in marriage equality,” sounds like solid support on the surface of things, but when you have someone else going, “Well I believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman,” things start to get trying. All of a sudden the conversation becomes a matter of a difference of opinion, and let me tell you right now, watching two non-queer people debate my rights like they would a preference for pineapple on pizza is about as fun as a kick to the face.
Instead, keep this in mind: It’s not your belief that queer people shouldn’t be denied the right to marry, nor is it your opinion. It’s a fact.
Every human being has the right to marry and found a family according to Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. By denying LGBTQ people the right to marry their same-sex partners, the Australian government is denying us a human right.
Lends the argument a different light doesn’t it?
Now, instead of pitting your opinion that LGBTQ people should be allowed to marry against some asshole’s belief in a so-called sacred institution (that totally wasn’t amended to the specific detriment of LGTBQ people as recently as 2004- oh wait), you’re slamming the International Bill of Human Rights down on the table and asking them to take issue with that.
“But what about GOD?!” I can hear someone yelling from the nosebleeds. “Freedom of religion Motherfricker!”
I’m glad you asked.
Freedom of religion is a human right. Article 18 of the ICCPR states that: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Here’s my favourite part of that article though: “Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.”
What this means, gentlefolks, is I can give God the middle finger while moonwalking backwards into a class on evolution and it is my human right to do so. The religion of others doesn’t trump my right to not have or practice one myself.
And just in case that wasn’t enough: “Article 18.3 permits restrictions on the freedom to manifest religion or belief only if limitations are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect […] the fundamental rights and freedoms of others“.
Like, say, our right to marry? Which is a fundamental human right? See where I’m going with this?
At the end of the day, an individual person’s human rights trump religion. Now, if people wanted to argue that the laws of God are higher than the laws of man (those rope-happy Irishmen) that’s their deal, but they’d probably want to start with locking down exactly what God’s laws are. Given the interpretation of the Bible has its very own field of study, they’re gonna have a world of fun with that one, and I wish them the best of it.
So here we are.
You don’t believe in marriage equality. You support marriage equality. You don’t think we should have the right to marry. You know we do, and you know that right is being denied.
Ballot papers are going to start arriving in our letterboxes by the 12th of September, and a final result is expected by November 15th. Until then, all we can do is enrol to vote, try and mitigate the damage to the LGBTQ community, and hope Malcolm Turnbull steps on lego every day for the rest of this shitfest he’s brought down on us.