Why I’m voting yes…

Here in Australia we are about to undertake a postal vote as a referendum on legalising and approving same-sex marriage. Here’s my delayed two-bobs worth on the SSM debate…

Like many others I was raised by a single parent; so the argument that kids need to be raised by two heterosexual parents is not a reason to vote no. As a parent I’ve also raised two teenage boys, describing myself as a full-time parent with shared care responsibility. I’ve worked bloody hard as a single dad and am proud of my boys. For others to suggest that an individuals lifestyle, sexual orientation, or gender prohibit one’s parenting ability or involvement are ignorant, naive and discriminatory.

Having been a minister I respect those who hold to a “traditional” view of marriage; however, I am also aware that there is no single take on “biblical marriage”. As a former baptist minister, I still ascribe to the separation of church and state; the marriage act is a civil act, not a religious one; in my opinion it is not a valid argument for voting no. Freedom of expression, freedom of choice are hallmarks of faith. Faith, hope and love are the greatest virtues we can hold and ascribe to as humans. Only love remains.

As someone who experienced employment discrimination and termination a decade ago from a Christian non-profit when I went through my own separation and divorce, I have little sympathy for those who ascribe to a conservative and legalistic moralising or super-spiritualising of relational matters that equally effect those who hold a faith and those who don’t.

As someone who facilitated a Parenting After Separation course I’m all too aware of many stories and circumstances where children are impacted by parental conflict, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. The scare-mongering of the no campaign regarding what’s good for children is flawed and a fallacy, again in my personal and professional opinion.

Having visited those persecuted for faith, I am mortified by those who portray that their Christian voice is being silenced. Oh please! We live in a democratic country where majority anglo, Christian and conservative middle class values have provided untold privilege. Don’t cry victim when coming from a place of privilege.

Having travelled as a communicator into many churches I know there are many wonderful caring and compassionate pastors, leaders and communities of faith. There are many who hold views and perspectives on both sides of the fence. I also know there are many who hold to a faith who no longer attend “church” (services) due to a sense of alienation, rejection, and sadly, even condemnation and judgement due to their relational status or ‘failed’ marriages. There are churches who accept and include, there are some that don’t.

For those voting yes, please don’t malign those who do care – there are many. For those voting no, please don’t malign those who care – there are many.

As a counsellor I care about how people are, about who they are, and about how they are coping. Questions of identity, meaning, understanding differences, resolving conflict are normal issues we all face. No matter our sexual orientation we all encounter the internal struggle of identity, meaning and social acceptance at various life stages. No matter what the setting, it takes courage, resilience, self-acceptance and incredible resolve to say to others I am different, I am comfortable in my own skin.

I will be voting yes. Not because of feeling social pressure. Not because of fear over what might get taught in schools if I don’t. Not because as a divorced ex-minister I have a devalued regard on the ‘orthodox’ Christian view of marriage. Rather, I will be voting yes for I respect all to have the right to marry those they love. In the eyes of Australian law, in the eyes of God’s grace and unconditional love – yes, go gently into the night.

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