“WHEN we look at modern Man, we have to face the fact that modern Man suffers from a kind of poverty of the sprit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance ... we’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters ...”
So said Martin Luther King Jr. some 50 years ago – and from recent public comments, it appears we are still learning.
Recently Bass Coast Shire councillors showed their ability to put aside agendas, politics and persuasion, and with the votes of seven out of eight councillors, pledged our community’s support for gay marriage to our federal MPs and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
The date chosen was May 17 – the International Day Against Homophobia; timely and fitting. It marks the date when homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation in 1990. Ergo – gay is not a choice.
The most recent online edition of the Bass Coast Post published an article concerning the council’s vote with several comments from readers.
These comments made me cringe:
“There are a great many rate payers of profound faith who will disagree with the Council's public display of political correctness ... you do not have a mandate to make such a decision,” wrote one.
“Did the council as me for my views. NO.” wrote another.
“The vast majority know different and will properly consider the unintended consequences of going against nature ...” proffered one more.
I consider myself fairly open to people of all walks of life. I have many friends, family members and employees in my team – some are old, some are young, some gay, some straight, some Muslim, some Jewish, some black, some Asian, to name a few – but first and foremost, they are good people. They are all people who abide by and respect the law, and who, after lengthy discussions on the topic of gay marriage, agree that if the law is good for the goose, well then it’s good for the gander.
Our council last week did exactly what needed to be done – they stood up for the rights of all ratepayers whom they are mandated to represent on an issue of morality and equality. They spoke for those who are not able to speak for themselves, lest they find themselves being treated as “unnatural” or “ye of little faith”. They have now shone the light on an issue that should not even raise eyebrows, let alone be as contentious as this.
When I voted in the last election, I did so based on policy, not whether or not a councillor supported gay marriage. Not because it’s an issue of “mandate” but because equality and human rights are now a no-brainer. It is not a matter of “political correctness” to ensure all citizens have equal rights before the law. And no one, no matter how “faithful” they may be or how “natural” they see themselves as, has the right to deny another person the same rights afforded to them under the law.
Our community is one of inclusion and our community members, minority or majority, deserve to be represented.
Well done, councillors, for showing our community that our elected officials have so much more of a role to play than just being local government administrators. You are leaders; paving the way for the next generation. Your declaration shows that we are moving forward to a new era – one where every person is valued and respected and where we stand true to the belief that we all deserve access to the same rights and responsibilities under the law.
To those in the community who are undecided on whether or not people of the same sex should marry – ask yourself what you would tell your brother or sister, or cousin or a friend or, heaven forbid, your own child who questioned why they shouldn’t be able to marry the person they love under the exact same law that allows you to do the same thing. Why do they deserve anything less than the same rights and responsibilities you have?
“Selective equality” does not exist. We are either equal, or we are not. It might seem fanciful, but I hope that maybe one day we will walk the Earth as truly equal brothers and sisters.