Following the success of love and Australia voting Yes to marriage equality, we take a moment to reflect on some of the impacts of the campaign and how we all felt. Kath is a nurse who tells her story and experience of the last few months:
It’s so very hard to find the right words to capture the emotions I felt at the moment the results of the Australian Same Sex Marriage Postal Survey were announced. Like so many people in the LGBTI community, I had no way of avoiding the vile campaign of the ‘No’ camp. Hate and bigotry was openly broadcast through every form of media; lies and misconceptions were given quasi-validity via a rhetoric marked as ‘free speech’. There was literally no escape from the constant bombardment of cruel and hurtful lies. I wasn’t alone; so many of my friends shared their stories of personal pain. We were united in just how much strength of character it took to remain civilised when forced to listen to very personal attacks. My entire life was publically debated and labelled deficient by people I have never met and who have no knowledge of my moral code or personal values.
Most painful of all, the depth of love I feel for my beautiful partner was touted as inferior to the love experienced by a heterosexual couple. In an entirely bizarre twist, the ‘No’ campaign decided that marriage should be synonymous with the ability or desire to reproduce. I can’t personally speak with all heterosexual couples of non-child baring age or those undergoing IVF treatment, or couples who just choose to not have children; however I think I’d be correct to say that they have no deficiencies on the love front.
At times it felt like the campaign would never end. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse another painful reminder of the hate some people feel towards same-sex couples would pop up. The donation of 1 million dollars (thirty pieces of silver has experienced some inflation) to the ‘No’ campaign by the Sydney Anglican Diocese was probably the lowest point in the campaign for me. The active role the Sydney Anglicans have no doubt played in damaging the mental health of vulnerable LGBTI kids is inhuman, a sanctimonious betrayal of their purported moral compass. As for the LGBTI kids in their own congregations, they are by far at most risk due to their isolation. The real cost of this horrible survey may never be fully known.
As I stood with my tribe in Prince Alfred Park in Sydney I reflected on all this. I could not have been more proud. We have heard it all, we have suffered greatly and for the most part, we have carried ourselves with grace and dignity. We have learned who our allies are and who are not. We have also been given an opportunity; we now know that the real enemy is ignorance. When we openly live our authentic LGBTI lives we gift our families and our wider communities the opportunity to truly know us. When the announcement came that 7 million Australian’s were willing to vote for love; I cheered, I cried, I cheered some more. Then I sent a message to the one lady in that 7 million who this was all for. The message was simple – I love you.