Saturday, September 30, 2017

The band of gold at the end of the rainbow

'And I'm telling you, the reception's gonna be at the Bowls Club.'
(Kodakotype by Pants, 2015)

There's so much idiotic discourse going on in Australia right now that the only real consideration for a blog post is this: which topic is least likely to turn my brain into Baba Ganoush if I try to write about it?  It's all of the unstated above, in any multiple-choice scenario. However, something important is trying to happen in this country. We are attempting to find a way to be the last developed nation to permit same-sex couples to marry.  Despite the cynical and cruel process inflicted upon us, with its implied inbuilt failure, we somehow have to get this to happen. So, pull up a Pita bread and let's see what we can do.

I'm not going to go through the whole tedious business of which whacko politician said this or senile bishop said that or why an anarchist headbutted a former prime minister in Hobart last week, if indeed a reason were needed. If you require a primer to get you up to speed on where we are in this pantomime, you can't go past this summary by Joe Hildebrand. Suffice to say that all it takes for us to descend into an all-in mud-wrestling spectacle, apparently, is for some foolhardy wag to utter the words, 'respectful debate'. And it's on for young and old. But why have we lined up on opposite sides of the mud bath like unwitting participants in a fairground tug-o-war when there isn't a real question here at all? It's a clear case of extending equal rights to all citizens, isn't it?

Every time the question of universal extension of citizen rights comes up, our immaturity breaks out like a bad case of acne. Our legendary-only-in-our-own-minds tolerance proves time and again to be not even skin deep. In fact nothing is more likely to freak us out than someone turning up wearing a non-Caucasian complexion. So, what is wrong with us, exactly? Marriage-equality advocate Rodney Croome posits that the homophobia garishly on display is rooted in our convict past. Many of our faults lie in those particular stars, I would venture. The way the dominant macho-hetero cohort has seized the mantle of victimhood over this issue would tend to make that point.

Lacking any reasonable argument, a cavalcade of codgers has crawled out of the woodwork to wave about notions like 'tradition' and 'free speech', presumably in the hope that loudly shouting the words will be enough. The tradition of 'marriage being between a man and a woman' goes back to, what, about 2004 and the Marriage Amendment Act? By jingo, is it that long ago? You just can't be messing with traditions that firmly established. 

Some of our staunchest champions of 'free speech' have suddenly gotten all thingy about who is allowed to even use some words. One of our most prominent big-hat-sporting loonies wants LGBTI people to keep their hands off his favourite word, 'gay'. And the managing director of one of our largest purveyors of fruits and vegetables says he doesn't mind same-sex couples having all the same rights just so long as they don't call it 'marriage'. Mmm, equal but separate, where have we heard that before?

And when push comes to shove, as it so tediously often does, those of us who would quite like to live in that tolerant, classless, bastion of mulitculturalism of myth are invariably told that we're dreaming of a fantasy world and democracy doesn't work that way. In fact, the will of the people will only be recognised when it suits the vested interests of the powerful. If not, it may be subverted by any daft mechanism that they can lay their grubby little hands on.

This weekend is one of the biggest in the Australian calendar. The football finals are being played. To their credit, both major leagues have made significant, and rather clever gestures of support. It's left the detractors looking red-faced and foolish. The AFL replaced its own logo with the word YES.  And tomorrow, the NRL final's entertainment will feature Macklemore singing, among other numbers, Same Love.  As proof of what a crazy ride we're on here, the controversy has propelled Same Love back up the charts, scoring those opposed to Macklemore's appearance a massive own goal (sorry). Macklemore has pledged his unexpected windfall to the YES campaign.

While we're on the subject of own goals, one of our most prominent and powerful knuckle-draggers hit a double-jackpot. His eruption over a primary school's support of 'Wear a Dress' Day enabled its initial modest fundraising target of $900 to top out at $275,000 after the story attracted national news coverage. A tip for struggling causes - get on the wrong side of that guy and stand back as the cash tumbles in your direction. Every now and again, people-power steals a victory.

Initially, I did consider boycotting this plebisurvey nonsense, in the hope that it would all backfire and make the government look extremely silly. As it turns out, they don't need my help for that.  After reading what my friend Andrew wrote, I decided I must not only participate but write about it as well. I've returned my postal-survey form and, (spoiler alert), I have answered YES. I would, in fact, like The Marriage Act to be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. Why shouldn't they have the same legal right to institutionalised misery as anyone else?