What Marriage Equality Will Mean for Sydney
What Is The Marriage Equality Plebiscite?
Same sex marriage, and more importantly marriage equality has been a political discussion point since the early 2000’s. Successive governments have been debating it, and now finally, there will be a plebiscite. This means that the public can provide feedback on proposed legal changes that would result in same sex marriages having the same rights as heterosexual marriages.
The plebiscite will be in the form of a postal vote and it shouldn’t be confused with a constitutional referendum. The plebiscite will essentially send a message to the government about what direction it should take when it comes to clarifying and expanding marriage laws.
Accepting Gay Marriage Is More Than Accepting Gay People
Australia has long been a lot more accepting of gay people than many other western countries. While marriage equality debates bring out the usual homophobic commentary, by and large gay people are well integrated in society.
But a society that largely accepts gay people doesn’t mean that gay people have equal rights. Individual freedoms apply to gays as much as to straight people. But that is not the issue. The issue is the legal problems that gay couples can face in many common situations. And these are legal problems that straight couples are protected from.
Legal Issues That Gay Couples Face
Because gay couples cannot get married in the legal sense, this puts them at risk in certain situations. There are two very important scenarios to consider, and many people have no idea these exist.
Firstly, in the event of a gay partner dying, the surviving partner will have very little say over the financial assets of the deceased. Even if those assets were accumulated in a joint fashion, the “legal” next of kin would have more say over what happens to them. In most cases that next of kin is a parent or sibling.
This includes a gay person’s super, life insurance, property and funeral arrangements. Even inheritance tax might be applicable, which is something that straight married couples are fully protected from.
Secondly, the surviving partner will not be automatically deemed the guardian of any children the couple has. This can result in heart breaking situations battled out in family court. Again, this is something fully protected in the event of the death of a straight spouse.
How Marriage Equality Will Change The Legal Issues
The solution is actually quite simple, despite what is communicated by many homophobic parts of society. Essentially, all that is needed is clarification and specification of existing laws. Laws that provide very specific protections to married couples would just have to redefine what a married couple is. It is not just the marriage between a woman and man, but also between a woman and a woman or a man and a man.
Gay people are not looking for any special legal rights that don’t exist for heterosexual couples. The simple ask is that the same laws apply equally.
Misconceptions About Marriage Equality
If you search the Internet for news stories in countries that have voted on or just introduced marriage equality, then a predictable level of commentary is present and constantly repeated. Beyond the blatantly hostile homophobic perceptions, there are more generally common misconceptions. Even many family members and friends of gay people are often unaware of them. Here are the most common ones out there.
Marriage equality will be harmful to children. This is possibly the most ludicrous belief out there and one that psychologists have studied and disproved. Gay couples in many countries have been and are raising children with the same overall results than straight couples. And they have been doing so for many years. If anything, marriage equality will bring more stability to families with gay parents providing a more secure and loving home.
It is a small problem not worth spending time and money on. This is a total understatement of the true legal problems that one part of society suffers. And it doesn’t even take into account the knock-on effects on the family, friends and children of same sex couples. But even if it was a small problem, the solution is even smaller. By simply attributing the same rights to gay couples. In effect, it is the opposition to marriage equality that is making it cost significant time and effort.
Rights of gay people are already protected. While the anti-discrimination laws introduced since the 90’s have greatly improved things for gay people, it still stands that one of the most significant discrimination exist to this day. When it comes to marriage straight couples have more legal protections than their gay counterparts.
How Gay People Influence Certain Areas Of Sydney
In cities around the world some of the most vibrant and sought after neighbourhoods are those that are most popular with the gay community. Whether it’s San Francisco’s iconic Castro or London’s Hampstead and Soho, there is a certain vibe and atmosphere around these places.
Sydney is no different with the eastern inner city around Taylor Square, Newtown and Alexandria offering a lifestyle and environment not matched anywhere else. When you experience these places in day time or at night you will notice what a positive difference a gay community brings.
And in recent years the so-called “pink Dollar” of affluent gay people has started moving into areas like Mascot and Rosebery. The result of this is that these areas are now thriving property markets. And the presence of an energetic gay community is also bringing along straight couples and families.
The Positive Impact OF Marriage Equality
With a shift in society to be openly accepting of gay marriages and gay parents, younger generations will see the most significant changes.
Marriage equality will not only strengthen the standing of gay people in society.It will positively affect society as a whole by providing more role models.How many times do people look admiringly at a couple celebrating 40, 50 or even 60 years of marriage. These are people we look to as role models for how to lead a selfless life of caring for a spouse and children.
Marriage equality will bring about a whole new generation of children being brought up in loving homes by gay parents who have the same legal protections as their straight friends and family.
As children grow to adults they look to married couples around them as role models. And being able to see diversity of straight and gay married couples, creating loving and happy homes, will just increase the amount of positive role models available. With more positive role models being presented to all people in society, there will be a far more positive outlook for people to live in peace and harmony with one another, completely irrespective of their sexuality.