Let’s talk about marriage, baby.
Let’s talk about you and me.
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things
That may be
Let’s talk about marriage for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about marriage on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it’s dirty have a choice.

And that’s what marriage equality is about. It’s about choice.

On Thursday my Greens colleague Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, won support of the Lower House for his motion calling on Members of Parliament to consult with their constituents around marriage equality.

This is the first time a house of the Australian Parliament has acknowledged this kind of discrimination against same-sex couples and provides an important opportunity for the community to have its voice heard.

One might argue that this discussion MPs across the nation will be bringing to their constituents shouldn’t be about sex. It should focus on equal rights.

However, for the right wing fundamentalist first parties and fundamentalist churches – sex is exactly what they talk about.

At an Australian Christian Lobby Public Forum in 2004, my dear and queer friend Jeff and I arrived armed with the argument that fundamentalist Christians were obsessed with sex and that all the questions I was going to be asked that night were going to be about sex. And I declared this right at the beginning of my speech.

We were correct.

It was a complete mockery to hear how many questions the candidates were asked about sex. One of the questions we were asked was how we felt about lesbian pole dancing in clubs in the valley.

This year, in 2010, at another public candidate’s forum, this time organised by a local Catholic Church and attended by a Fundamentalist First Party candidate, I had the uncomfortable experience of being asked by the candidate how I – as a Greens – felt about church schools being forced by the law to employ gay people to teach our children. This was in the context of him declaring that we are as country were increasingly accepting debauchery.

Yesterday union leader and ALP executive Joe De Bruyn – among other pleasantries – said if HE had been Julia Gillard this week he would have put the issue of gay marriage to the vote, killed the issue off once and for all and gotten on with the business of the real issues the ordinary person in the electorate cares about.

What? Like sex?

But seriously, what do ordinary people care about? Ordinary people like me care about a range of things like helping the environment, alleviating poverty, freedom from violence and the freedom to love and openly declare one’s love for another.

A friend of mine said yesterday that she would not get married until gay people had the rights to be married otherwise, to her, marriage wasn’t about love. Clearly, this issue not only affects LGBTI people but the friends and families who want to support those who wish to publicly declare their union. And those like my friend and I who believe that love should not discriminate.

Of all things we should be cognisant of for a healthy, happy society is that love should not discriminate.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has said that since he moved this motion on Monday there has been a new level of discussion about the importance of equality and how this can be achieved, a discussion that has occurred not just in the Parliament but most importantly within the community.

Our job, as ordinary people, is to now ensure that we talk to our local federal MPs – pop in and visit them. Take this opportunity to meet face-to-face and ensure they uphold their commitment to consult with their community on this matter. Discuss with them how this consultation in your local community should best take place.

This is the only way we will have any chance of ensuring that those who wish to talk about sex rather than love aren’t given all the ear-time. So ordinary people like all of us are given the opportunity to show that, as a country, we have moved on from any suggestions that anything but full equality can be acceptable. That fairness and equality means marriage equality and that equal love means equal love.

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