We are the generation of future marriages and there is no doubt the outcome of the Marriage Amendment Bill will affect us, our friends and members of our families.
The parliamentary debate on this Bill will be intense and a lot of what our generation will hear will be from those who are already married. It is our responsibility to make sure that the younger voices, however varied, are heard.
Wednesday's historic vote has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some. Many are asking why "gay people" can't be content with the Civil Union Act of 2004.
My hypothetical girlfriend and I could have a civil union, but we all know that a Louis Vuitton knock-off is not the same as the real thing. It may seem the same, but it's not, and deep down we know it's just a cheap rip-off, designed to make us feel like we are fitting in.
These marriage knock-offs also mean the couple cannot enjoy the same legal rights as those in wedded bliss.
Included in this is the ability to adopt a child.
Those who oppose marriage equality would have you believe "gay" parents would be damaging to a child.
What sort of damage? Because it's hard to believe those who fight so hard to have a child in their family would ever inflict deadly head injuries on their three-month old twins. Unlike some.
Gender does not exclude or guarantee stability, nor does traditional marriage. The ability to adopt should be decided on character, rather than the sexual orientation of the couple.
Family First this week claimed "gay marriage" undermines the church, and that church ministers could be regarded as criminals for refusing to marry same-sex couples. This claim comes from lawyer Ian Bassett, who some of you may remember from Family First's anti-abortion campaigns.
Louisa Wall has always maintained the church will still have the choice to decide who they marry. If a minister doesn't want to marry same-sex couples in the church, then those fabulous gay weddings will go elsewhere.
Marriage existed before the church, and continues to exist outside of the church. The ancient Greeks and Romans conducted heterosexual and homosexual marriages before the rise of Christianity, and to this day couples get married in the garden with a celebrant, rather than in the church with a minister.
Same-sex marriages are likely to take place in parks, on beaches, and in ceremonies that will not differ from what is already an established norm.
During the debate people will be told that "the government has more important things to be concerned about than gay marriage''. Yes, we have children living in poverty and yes, the asset sale debate is incredibly important. Those in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill appreciate this and expect those issues to be looked into as well. Some of them are even involved in the process, like Green MP Kevin Hague, who campaigns against asset sales and is also a keen supporter of the marriage Bill.
However, those who choose to argue there is "something else more important" than this debate are simply attempting to justify their bigotry.
Did I miss the memo? Is there is some sort of quota that means only the issues that affect the highest number of people can be debated by the politicians we pay to take care of our country? Heck, if that's the case you may as well wave goodbye to initiatives like Whanau Ora.
Fighting for equality has never been easy. History tells us the road to change is paved with pain, but it's a road worth travelling. Just ask the suffragettes or Rosa Parks.
If the Bill does pass, those in opposition will notice very little change in their day-to-day living. No one will take away the rights of straight people, churches will remain unchanged, people will not demand to marry their goats and heterosexual marriage won't suddenly mean less than it did the previous week.
While the lives of those in opposition will remain unchanged the lives of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer people will change for the better. Why? Simply because they will be given freedom of choice. That's the only change that will take place; their ability to choose to get married if they so desire.
That new-found freedom will send a positive message to youth who are struggling with their sexuality. Equal rights are a nod of acceptance from a society that once criminalised them for who they loved.
To wed or not to wed is a decision the ancient Greeks made for themselves, a decision religious people make for themselves and a decision you make for yourself. It should be a decision that every single person in our country has the ability and the right to make.
As the generation potentially affected by this Bill, your opinions, however different they may be, deserve to be heard. This debate cannot be fought solely by those who are already married. The voices of the future, the ones who will live with the outcome, must have equality.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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