It’s time to stop avoiding the topic…

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

16 thoughts on “It’s time to stop avoiding the topic…

  1. Great article Matt. Brilliant to see KPMG Australia uses its platform and voice on this important equality issue. Here in KPMG UK we wish you well in matching our legislation changes. And enjoy the wedding and upcoming honeymoon!

  2. Fabulous article Matt – look forward to working with you on reinvigorating KGEN and good luck for your upcoming nuptials!

  3. Matt its been a long time coming and lets hope our politicians can now ensure the right outcome when they consider the issue. Thank you for speaking out and sharing your story…. it is great to see the continued good work that KPMG’s KGEN is doing in this space….well done…and I hope you and Ed enjoy your long awaited day!

  4. This is a really interesting article Matt, thank you for being so open and sharing. I am UK based and in a civil partnership, we got ‘hitched’ (civil partnered sounds too much like an engineering process) before marriage was available to us and mainly, rather unromantically, because we wanted our parental rights towards our 2 children to be better protected. Before KPMG I worked in the criminal justice service and as part of that did a vocational exchange to a juvenile detention centre in NSW – I loved the life in Australia but struggled with the level of racism and institutional bias that I found even amongst people I respected. That and the fact the way many of the Kiwi members of my team pronounced the word “six” made me giggle like a schoolgirl!
    I hope that Australia takes the plunge soon and then uses its influence in the southern hemisphere to bring some momentum to equality. And I hope you finalise the numbers for the wedding; believe me, the person you didn’t invite will mention it for years!

  5. Super article Matt – all the best for your wedding. Coincidentally, me and my partner Lee accompanied close friends of ours to NZ on the weekend. Not having British citizenship like you, they had to travel to NZ to get married! The celebrant at the births, deaths and marriages registry told us that they’re doing a roaring trade in same sex couples going to NZ to get married (at least 5 each week). I’m not a great believer in marriage, but everybody must have the right. Australia is now being made to look backward internationally – this needs to change quickly

  6. Of course its time for equity. But I question marriage in general. I don’t like religion traditions. But of course: The party and the dress … everyone should be able to marry the person of love. I just don’t like tax advantages. If someone decides to live together unmarried, they shouldn’t be charged more.
    Anyway: Have a great wedding Ed & Matt!

  7. Very well written Matt. Marriage equality might not seem like a big deal to people, however it will make a huge impact on the lives of those wanting to enter in to Marriage, and possibly more importantly, show our younger generation that being in a same sex relationship is considered acceptable

  8. Well done Matt! Having known you since you joined KPMG as a cadet at age 17, I have watched you consistently display leadership at all levels. It is clear this continues today. Well done mate.

  9. Matt, great piece. And following the introdution this week of two Parliamentary bills on marriage equality, that clock is most definitely ticking!

  10. Brilliantly expressed Matthew. The Ireland vote has thrown Australia’s position into sharp and shameful contrast and I can only hope it acts as a catalyst for quick and decisive change.

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