Same – sex marriage is won. My hopes for the future

D5ED582A-D349-49C2-8E65-BA6091F0DB33
Images: iStock

It’s happened. The Upper House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for legalising same – sex marriage on Thursday. There were celebrations and tears across the nation.

61.6% of eligible voters that decided to take part in the postal survey made the decision that people in same – sex relationships should be able to marry. This is quite an optimistic result. It has made me positive for the Australian LGBTQ+ community in the future.

 

Over seven million people believe people in same – sex relationships should be treated legally as those in opposite – sex relationships. They have the choice to make that commitment.

So, what does this mean for young people who are yet to recognise their sexuality or those who have been previously married (in a straight relationship), but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex? Will it easier to admit their same – sex attraction, without fear of retaliation from those who they care about?

The extremes of the ‘Yes’ campaign were right in one sense. This does go beyond marriage for same – sex couples. It should. Here me out and I’ll explain what I mean. My hope is that with this embrace of same – sex couples, that other members of the LGBTQ+ community waill also be embraced – that bisexual and asexual people will be believed and safe. That bisexual men are believed. That transgender, including non – binary people feel safe to come out and express their gender identity. I hope that intersex people will be granted the right to be autonomous and have a voice in what happens to their bodies medically, rather than being forced into having invasive surgeries without their informed consent.

I hope that schools become safer places for LGBTQ+ students and their families. I hope that anti – LGBTQ+ bullying will not be tolerated and that victims don’t have to doubt whether they should speak out in fear of further attacks or rejection from family, school staff, or peers.

I hope that asexual people will be acknowledged in school. I hope that when there is talk about sexuality, there is a separation between sexual and romantic orientation, allowing potentially asexual students the ability to experience their romantic attractions (if they have any), without the worry or confusion.

 

Even though the process was painful for many in the LGBTQ+ community, I hope the vote showed that many non – LGBTQ+ people are willing to treat us like people, not outrageous stereotypes or caricatures. I hope that this means that lesbians and bisexual women are not treated or viewed as a porn fantasy. I hope this means that gay and bi men aren’t negatively stereotyped and attacked because they are not “masculine” enough.

My guess is that over seven million people didn’t buy into the paranoia that gays were out to get kids, or to turn them gay, or that transgender people (especially transwomen) are predators. Like the general population, the vast majority aren’t!

 

So, here’s to love. Here’s to acceptance. And, most importantly, here’s to LGBTQ+ people being free to be who they are without fear.

 

 

Advertisements

The vote was a victory, but it doesn’t mean wounds are healed

D5ED582A-D349-49C2-8E65-BA6091F0DB33
Images: iStock

To be honest, I hope this is the last time I write about this. The announcement that 61.6% of people who participated in the Marriage Postal Survey said ‘Yes’ include same – sex couples in the Marriage Act.

the result was better than what I thought it might have been. I was fearing it’d been much closer to 50/50, or, frankly, a slight loss for the ‘Yes’ vote.

Some say that this was a ‘a vote of love’ toward the Australian LGBTQ+ community. I believe there is an element of truth to that, to be honest. This vote did prove that many people are willing to see LGBTQ+ people as equal and worthy of love as heterosexual people. I hope that this does signal a future where LGBTQ+ people don’t have to have any fear about coming out, or being seen with their partner/ spouse out in public.

However, and this is a big however, it DOES NOT mean that it was a painless process or that all wounds have been healed. As I wrote in the past, a number of counselling services across the country had seen a spike in the number of calls by LGBTQ+ people who were distressed during the vote. For some, it brought back bad memories and insecurities. The result announced on Wednesday may have relieved some of that, but for other LGBTQ+ people, healing will take a lot longer.

The fact that over seven million voted ‘yes’ may do little to help LGBTQ+ people who have felt betrayed by family members who voted ‘no’ and/ or don’t accept for who thwy are. The process may have poured salt into those wounds that, frankly, may never heal.

I think the debate around around ‘religious exemptions’ and ‘conscientious objections’ have been another hurdle that may also trigger negative memories and feelings from members of the LGBTQ+ community because the validity and value of LGBTQ+ people has been up for  debate. Again. To many, they still don’t feel equal. What LGBTQ+ rights will clash with conservatives and lose out? Exemptions for religious leaders and celebrants were always goibg to happen, and are fine. Extensions to florists, bakers, etc, however concern me (although James Patterson’s Bill has been dropped and Patterson is willing to debate and work to ammend the Dean Smith Bill. Let’s hope the Bill doesn’t end up opening Pandora’s box and allow other discrimination; against children with LGBTQ+ parents, for instance.

 

The last few days have brought a lot of people joy. Many may have found solace in the huge ‘yes’ response and that may have been enough to heal any hurt, fears and doubts. But it’s also true that, for a number of LGBTQ+ people, familial and friend rejection and the pain it’s caused will override the ‘national cuddle’. Because if you don’t feel accepted by the people you love the most, over seven million ‘hugs’ from strangers will seem hollow.

How did you find the Australian Marriage postal survey and the debate?

 

 

 

Australian Christians to apologise and reconcile with the LGBTQ community

According to Buzzfeed News, a group of conservative Christians and former conservatives have come together to offer an apology to LGBTQ people who’ve been harmed by churches.

Equal Voices  aims to confront the failures of Christians to respond to LGBTQ people justly and “be reconciled with one another in the Body of Christ”. An apology is a top priority.

The Apology

The apology covers the following points:

  1. For being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you.
  2. For not speaking up against the hurtful, damaging, and often violent mistreatment you have been subjected to
  3. For speaking about you, without listening to you.
  4. For not creating safe environments within our churches where people can speak openly and honestly about their struggles and understandings
  5. For perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences
  6. For talking to you or about you in a way as to suggest that sexual and/ or gender differences are not a part of your true identity as creatures made in the image of God, but are simply a result of brokenness or sin.
  7. For perpetuating the mistaken belief that non – heterosexual orientations should be treated, healed and changed and for not acknowledging the damage such misunderstandings have wrought in peoples’ lives
  8. For not acknowledging that Christians who are seeking to be faithful to their Lord and to the Scriptures are coming to different conclusions on matters of gender, sexual orientation and marriage

One member has committed to:

  1. Honour and support LGBTQ people in any way possible
  2. Be open to gentle correction and guidance
  3. Hold others to account for harmful words or actions
  4. Resist efforts to “other” or exclude LGBTQ people
  5. Engage in genuine conversation to gain perspectives of LGBTQ people

The apology will be posted on the Equal Voices website from the first of March. People will then asked sign the statement.

 

These points, especially number six, are huge. This signals a massive shift in the Church regarding LGBTQ people.This could be the start of a healing and a bridge being built between Christians and the LGBTQ community. Finally, LGBTQ Christians will feel safe, regardless of whether they attend a progressive or Evangelical church.

While it is a great step forward, I wonder what it’ll mean for Christians politically. Many Evangelical churches have closely aligned themselves with conservative political parties and lobby groups, including the Australian Christian Lobby. Recently, Activate Church in Adelaide separated themselves from Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God) – the denomination that includes Hillsong – to fully support the LGBTQ community. The pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston has come under fire for not allowing openly LGBTQ people to serve in the Church.

I don’t think anyone should expect all conservative Christians to jump on this. No doubt, the ones that have raised their voices about this do so knowing that they’ll pay a great price. Many Evangelical, and former Evangelical Christians, such as America’s Rob Bell, have paid greatly when coming out in support of the LGBTQ community. So this is no small feat!

I think this is so positive. Soon, LGBTQ people will be able to worship, rest and be a part of a church without their identity being a barrier. Finally, people in church will be able to enter, knowing that they don’t have to hide. They won’t have to sit through a sermon feeling like they don’t belong, that, despite their belief and their heart for God, that they are not enough. Also, I believe that this will be a start of a healing for the Church as well -= a healing of a damaged reputation, a healing from the harmful stereotypes that have plagued the Church and the Church will be allowed to shine their light for ALL people and to have the ability to fulfil the Great Commission, without the message falling on deaf ears and being slammed as “hypocritical”.The likelihood of all Christians embracing this new acceptance now is slim, still. But, it’s a step forward and should be acknowledged. So, for those involved in the EqualVoices movement, good on you for taking courage and thank you for doing so.