Rudd’s Promise Brings Marriage Equality One Step Closer

This couple have already planned their wedding; when will Australia allow it to happen?

Warren Harmer and his partner David[1] have been going to the same spot ever since they started dating. It’s a cute little nook; a picnic area inside a garden – innocuous enough to a passer-by, but steeped with meaning for these two. The perfect setting, Warren decided, for him to propose.

He had a pretty good idea of what the answer to his question would be, but waited until his anniversary to ask it. As he suspected, David said yes, and the two immediately started working out what their ideal wedding would look like.

If Warren and David were straight, that would be the end of the story – start writing the invitations, we’re getting married! But in Australia, legislative barriers mean that they have no idea when their country will allow them to tie the knot.

“I’m a bit of a romantic, and it’s the most romantic thing you can do,” Warren says of his desire to wed. He doesn’t sound bitter, exactly, but as anyone who has suffered discrimination in their lifetime does, it’s clear that he finds it unfair.

“It would just mean that I would be able to stand up and tell everyone how much I love my partner,” he continues. “Have a big party with my friends and family, and celebrate being with somebody that I love.”

There are some signs of change. During this August’s election debate, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to introduce gay marriage legislation within the first 100 days of parliament, if he were to stay in office.

Two protestors demand marriage equality at a melbourne rally
Two protestors demand marriage equality at a melbourne rally

At this point, that seems like a big “if.” But a far bigger problem would seem to getting a bill through the stagnant backwaters of many politicians’ current attitudes towards homosexuality.

“Most of the people I work with are thirty and under, thirty five and under, and going to talk about it with them, unanimously it’s like ‘why are we talking about this? Why can’t you do that?’ Warren recalls, mimicking his co-workers’ incredulousness.

“But I really feel like people in power, who are older, and maybe a bit more conservative, are afraid of losing the grey vote. Clinging onto it, even though there are more people in favour of (gay marriage) than not.”

Of course, as of August 19 this year, gay couples are allowed to get married in New Zealand. However, while it may seem like an easy solution for Australians to simply skip across the water and have a ceremony there, Warren says is wouldn’t be the same.

“I want to do it here because I want my close friends and family to come, and if it’s further away they may not be able to,” he explains practically. “And I want to do it in my home country.”

“I guess it would depend on how long it takes,” he continues. “I want to do it here. If Labor gets in it could be three months, if Liberal get in it could be six years.”

“We just don’t know.”

[1] Not his real name.

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