We had been avoiding the discussion for months. We thought that it was going to be stressful. We foresaw the need for painful compromise. But the clock was ticking, and we knew we needed to bite the bullet and arrive at a decision…
Over the weekend, my partner – Ed – and I sat down to negotiate our wedding invitation list. It’s something that countless couples have done before us, and many friends had warned us about. Wedding lists – like laws and sausages – seem to be best not seen whilst getting made.
After 15 years together, Ed and I will be getting married in Sydney later this year.
The 15 year wait has not been because we are especially indecisive, unsure or lazy. As a same-sex couple, the opportunity to get married in our home city has not been available. Even now, we are only able to do so because I happen to have a British passport (a consequence of my family heritage) and am therefore afforded the privilege of getting married in my home country, albeit standing on the sovereign soil of another state.
It’s all a bit strange. In spite of the durability and (I hate to say) total averageness of our relationship, the country of my birth does not provide Ed and I with a recognised opportunity to stand before family and friends and declare our commitment to each other. The country that we have lived our entire lives does not allow our son, Elliott, to grow up with married parents. Instead, later this year, we will surreally stand in a consulate conference room overlooking Sydney Harbour, watched over by a portrait of the Queen, exchanging vows that we would prefer to express in more normal surrounds at ground level.
It’s also a bit ironic. While Ed and I were spending our weekend arguing over at what point in our extended family trees to draw the line (second cousins, really?), Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage via popular vote. A country widely regarded as being socially conservative, where homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993, voted by a ratio of two to one to codify same sex marriage in their constitution. The vote was a remarkable sign of the continuing shift in public opinion across the majority of western democracies.
How can Australia, a nation whose history is characterised by the themes of fairness, mateship and continual social progression, be one of the last advanced English-speaking societies to withhold this right from a significant segment of its community?
Pleasingly however, there does appear to be a groundswell of support for a change in the law. A July 2014 Crosby Textor poll found that 72 percent of the Australian community supports marriage equality. A growing number of politicians, community leaders, sportspeople and executives are coming out in support of a change in the law. And a growing number of businesses – KPMG included – have pledged their support for the cause.
It seems that in spite of the political classes avoiding the discussion, the Australian community has already bitten the bullet, evaluated the options and decided. They have found – like Ed and my wedding invitation list – the decision wasn’t as painful as first thought.
The clock is ticking…
Feature image: Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo