Friday, 19 April 2013

Why Marriage Equality Matters

Hello! You're reading this because a friend has sent you this link. Unless you're just reading this out of interest, that means that there's a good chance that you've done something (like told a joke or decided to stir up an argument) that has actually really hurt someone you know and made their life rather hard.

It's easy to make jokes about marriage equality, right? After all, it's not your problem. It's not just that you're straight, you simply don't care about marriage that much. What's the point fighting about it? After all you don't need marriage to be happy, so why don't gay people just accept it and move on with their lives?

Around 30% of gay or bisexual men have attempted suicide at some point in their lives, and around 20% of lesbian or bisexual women. Why are LGBTI suicide rates so high? Because for these people every day, life is a battle. You can walk down your street holding your girlfriend's hand and the worst that will happen is that you might get called whipped. A gay man walking down the street holding his boyfriend's hand might get stared at, laughed at, called names, or even threatened. Something as simple as stepping out the door is a battle that LGBTI people have to fight day after day.

You may not be thinking about marriage right now, but if you ever change your mind and decide to marry the girl that you love, all you have to do is to get down on one knee. If you're a girl it's a little harder, but there are some great recipes online for "Engagement Chicken" that is guarantees to get a proposal out of your boyfriend within a week. Seriously, Google it. For a lesbian or bisexual woman to marry the girl that she loves, she has to fight the legislative system of an entire country (from the Prime Minister on down) to do the same. Marriage might not seem like a big deal to you, but for her it's another battle, another war that she has to win just to get to the same place as you are, kneeling down and asking someone to marry you.

If someone lives their whole lives fighting battles just to get down the street, don't make that into a joke. Don't stir up arguments just for a laugh. Don't tell them to get over it.

I'm not asking you to go out, draw a rainbow on the ground in chalk and start campaigning for LGBTI rights and marriage equality. All I'm asking you to do is think a little more carefully about what you say. Don't make jokes about other people's wars. Maybe even try and help them out from time to time. They're living under a heavy load, they could do with a hand. If nothing else, the next time you see someone make a joke about gay marriage on Facebook, maybe just quietly link them to this post. You never know how many battles you might be making just a little bit easier if you do so.

1 comment: