As ex-readers and former shareholders know all too well, the Fairfax press will publish almost any nonsense that matches the favoured nonsense exchanged over lentil casseroles in share-house kitchens by young reporters with social-justice agendas and parents silly enough to have paid for their journalism degrees. It can only be a question of time, therefore, before something very similar to the story below appears in the pages of the Age and Sydney Morning Herald — allowing, of course, that those newspapers have not been obliged by the receivers to stop killing trees for no good purpose.
Marriage Equality has a long way yet to go
Two years after ground breaking legislation that granted marriage equality to same sex couples, many gay married couples are realizing that they have not yet achieved full equality. And, worryingly, the bitter disappointment has led to a noticeable upturn in mental health problems among gays.
Newly elected Greens leader and unofficial spokesperson for the LBGTQI community Pixie Stalin agrees. “While there have not been any reported cases of suicide as yet,” she concedes, “it is only a matter of time. We need to act now.”
Many married same-sex couples believe there is still a mindset among most in the community that same-sex marriage is not really as good as what is known as ‘traditional marriage.’
“We’re still seen as second class citizens,” says Stalin, whose marriage to long-time partner Rosa Fuchs was solemnized over a year ago.
LBGTQI activists are calling for a moratorium on such archaic terms as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ which divide marriage into two classes.
Boris and Bruce Havercock are a typical same-sex couple who married in the euphoric aftermath of the historic vote. The couple, who solved the ‘married name’ dilemma by contracting their original surnames (Havelock and Woodcock) looked forward to a fulfilling life and were expecting to be fully accepted into the community of married couples.
But it soon became clear to them that, despite the legal status, their marriage is not regarded, by many heterosexual couples as equal to heterosexual marriage.
The first inkling came when Bruce and Boris were invited by Boris’ boss to dinner at his home.
“When Russell met us at the door he could not have been more pleasant”, recalls Bruce. “But then he introduced us to his ‘wife’. I was mortified. The way he said ‘wife’. It was said in such a way, a condescending tone, that made it quite clear that ‘wife’ was a higher calling than ‘life partner’. It was clear he felt that our marriage was somehow inferior.”
Fairfax Media has reallocated its team of crack climate-change reporters, who will be temporarily unavailable to take dictation from wind-farm operators, in order to join with the ABC’s Four Corners team and mount a joint investigation of the widespread and homophobic use of the terms “wife” and “husband” and the verbal assault this causes within the same-sex community.
Some activists are even calling on the Human Rights Commission to outlaw terms such as ‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘traditional marriage’ as hate speech under Section 18C of the new Omnibus Discrimination Act.
Pixie Stalin supports this initiative. “Rather than ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, we would prefer to see more inclusive terms such as Life Partner A and Life Partner 1, which are neutral as to gender, sexuality and precedence. ‘Life Partner’ would be reserved for married couples, while de facto couples could use the simpler terms Partner A and Partner 1.”
Asked her if this could be seen to discriminate against de facto couples she responded vehemently, “Of course not!”
“Why not?” she was asked.
“Because it’s official Greens policy!”
Newly installed Human Rights Commissioner David Morrison, who has vowed to uphold the sacred legacy of Gillian Triggs, seems sympathetic to the idea and has called for submissions from interested parties. But, he warns, hateful submissions will not be considered.
“We hope this is resolved sooner rather than later,” he tells us, “because the battle for marriage equality has already gone on for far too long.”
Amen to that.