I had just started working in my dream job, not long after settling in Sydney, back from the traditional post uni overseas trip, backpacking in Europe.
The dream job being a gallery manager for one of the eastern suburbs most ‘social’ art galleries.
Up until then, I had navigated the treacherous path of being a full-time waiter, I felt that I was truly moving in the right direction career wise – finally!
While grabbing an afternoon coffee at the place of my most recent past employment, I was surprised to see my replacement on the coffee machine was possibly the best-looking guy I’d seen.
Beautiful dark hair pulled back in a man bun, his beard impressive – a decade before either were fashionable. That’s him I thought, with the conviction of anyone who has fallen victim to love at first sight.
This is back in a time before social media, before mass use of mobile phones even, otherwise I would have been posting updates on my Instagram immediately – I had met the man I was going to spend my life with.
All it took now was to convince him to feel mutually inclined.
Me loitering until knock off over eight flat whites and then a few games of pool cinched the deal – that was 16 years ago.
I am not going to pretend it’s been all beer and skittles, there’s been ups and a few downs, thankfully he possess the patience of a saint when it comes to me, though I hope I’ve spiced up his life a little in return.
Over the past sixteen years, we’ve been to the weddings of his two sisters, the second wedding of my twin brother, the births of numerous nieces and nephews, godchildren and countless friend weddings. All are relationships we’ve watched blossom, like our own over time and settle into normal family life as we fast approach our mid-forties.
In taking their vows, all these husbands and wives have been gracious enough to add their own caveats to the statement that all celebrants must declare since the 2004 change to the Marriage Act.
A change that didn’t seem to require the sort of plebiscite that is now seen as so important when considering changes to the Marriage Act.
John Howard’s change in 2004 defined marriage as ‘a union between a man and woman only’.
I am incredulous that Australia still judges my relationship with the man I love, ‘to the exclusion of all others’ as less than equal to my peers, friends and family.
We are a secular country. No religion owns marriage.
The law needs to change and it needs to change quickly, decisively and without the possibility of harming young LGBTIQ people.
Until then, my relationship is not seen as being equal to all the marriages my partner and I have witnessed and celebrated in our two decades together.
For those not yet convinced; put yourself in that equitation and see how it feels, what it says to your soul.
It’s beyond obvious that around 80% of Australians want our leaders to change the Marriage Act.
The majority of my countrymen see my relationship as equal; that gives me and the LGBTIQ community strength and hope.
The support for marriage equality is not disputed by either the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader, yet we find ourselves with a $200 million plebiscite to decide the issue.
We live in a democracy that elects its representatives to lead and make hard decisions on behalf of their constituents.
Why is it that this particular moral/social issue needs any more than that?
Add to that the suggestion that this wasteful and potentially harmful popularity contest will not be binding and still be subject to a vote in parliament, is just insulting to LGBTIQ people and the wider Australian population.
My concern is not for me or the man I love, but for the kids who grow up feeling ashamed of who they are while we still debate this issue.
Living regionally, those differences can be more pronounced, more isolating and potentially more harmful.
I’d like the teenager me, who grew up here on the South Coast of NSW, to feel as accepted and valued as I do, as a member of this amazing community now.
Marriage equality – let’s get it done in parliament now!
Iain Dawson runs the Facebook page Bega Valley for Marriage Equality