Sunday, October 26, 2008

Same-Sex Rights.

This weekend symbolised a very special time for two friends of mine. My Chiropractor, who I have known for just over 5 years now, married her girlfriend in a beautiful back-yard ceremony.

A couple of months ago they both approached me during one of my weekly adjustments and they asked me if I would like to photograph their day together. Needless to say that I felt not only excited but also honoured to be asked to do so, and it was a real privilege to be able to share the day with them both, with their family, and with their closest friends.

Up until recently, I never really gave much thought about the fact that members of the GLBT community (or however anyone else identifies under the different umbrella terms associated within this community) could not marry legally - well, at least not here in Australia, as the last time I checked, the Australian Federal/Commonwealth Government has put a ban on the recognition of all same-sex marriages at the national level - and I guess my way of thinking was due to the fact that for me personally, I've never really needed to have my relationships validated by a system (one that has been put into place and where throughout history, and even right up until this day) where my relationship is one that is viewed as one that needs to be approved by a State or by some bigoted religious authority.  Sorry, but I have trouble swallowing the part about it having to be "approved", especially by a Religious "authority". I mean, if they had their way, they'd still be burning the likes of me and my kind at the stake *nic* (yes, I also spy a small hint of cynicism in my words - oh well, at least I can have a chuckle about it)

Anyway, since being asked to photograph the wedding it got me thinking about my own life and what it is that I want for myself and for my future partner. It got me thinking that it comes down to so many different things: it comes down to "equality" and it comes down to being granted and afforded the same "basic civil rights" as everyone else - regardless of sex and gender. And, it comes down to "principal" and the right to have a "choice", it comes down to being allowed to choose whether or not I want to marry the person who I love, and who I wish to spend the rest of my life with. Sure thing, I can sit here and go on about how I don't need the approval of some old-fashioned and antiquated institution... but, the crux of the matter for me at this stage, is that with this "approval" comes so many rights that I, and that so many of us do not have access to. With it comes so much that those who are automatically granted these rights (often referred to as "heterosexual privilege") will probably never have to give a second thought to.

You know, we've all heard stories of peoples shared experiences, we hear so often of people in same-sex relationships being in situations, where, for example, one partner has been hospitalised and where the other partner has wanted to visit, but was not allowed to because their partnership was not recognised by law and was not deemed as one that is "legal", and where only immediate family members are allowed to visit. We hear of situations where disgruntled family members who don't "approve" of the type of relationship they share, or who have some personal disliking or grudge for the partner, and so they try and stop the partner of the ill person from seeing the partner who is ill. Jesus, can you even begin to fathom that or how that would make you feel? Imagine going to visit the one person who you love the most, and who is now in hospital (ill and/or maybe dying) and then being told by someone, "Sorry, but I am afraid you can't go in there, because you don't really have a place or a right being in there because you are not recognised as someone who is classed as 'immediate family' or 'next of kin'".

And, it goes on, because we also hear of situations where a decision may have to be made on behalf of the party who is ill in hospital, and/or where the partner of that person is not allowed to make the final decision (or even have a say) regarding what should/will be the outcome - even though these two people may have discussed in private during the course of their relationship what course of action they want their partner to take if ever a situation like this were to eventuate. We hear of stories where disgruntled family members come on in and take over, and they make executive decisions based on what they want - whether it's to do with the outcome of the medical condition, or even on what happens in the course of death when it involves an Estate - and they make these decisions without any consideration or respect for the partner of the ill person, or of the wishes of the person who is ill (if it involves including the other partner) and nothing can be done to prevent it from happening, because same-sex marriage is not recognised as one that is legal here in Australia - or in most other counties and states - and in the end, we basically don't have a bloody legal leg to stand on.

Now, I know that these are only some of the examples that can be made when it comes to the issue of same-sex rights and having our partnerships recognised legally, and, I also know that there are other pressing issues going on globally right now, such as; global warming; the tumbling economy; poverty; people starving in third-world countries; kids living on the streets; the war on drugs; the long struggle for democracy in military-ruled Burma, etc, etc, and believe me all of these issues are issues (along with many other issues) that I think of often, but at present, it is the issue of same-sex rights and same-sex recognition that weighs on my mind the most ...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I want to know that if at some stage I enter into a relationship and I decide that I want to marry, that if I die, then my partner will be okay because she will be entitled to an inheritance, automatically. I want to know that she will be set up financially, and that no one can try and take that away from her. I want to know that she won't have to worry about anything or that she won't lose the house (if we have a house) because someone is daring to challenge her on property rights, or on anything else that we have worked so hard to create and establish together, as a "couple".

As someone who focuses on, and who takes great care and pride in creating and providing a safe and secure environment for the woman that I love, it is imperative that I know that she will be okay if anything should happen to me; whether that's me becoming impaired in any way (mentally or physically) or once I have gone ... And, at the end of the day, I really don't think that it's too much to ask for.


Anonymous said...

Oh I love that you are still using the, "If they had their way they'd still be burning the likes of me and my kind at the stake"

Your mind was one of the things that attracted me to you many, many years ago.

Its great to see you haven't changed.

Come have dinner with me and my boi soon - yes?

Leather xo

Mister! said...

Thank you, Leather.

I will be in touch. Take care of each other *smile*

Alexandra said...

"As someone who focuses on, and who takes great care and pride in creating and providing a safe and secure environment for the woman that I love, it is imperative that I know that she will be okay if anything should happen to me; whether that's me becoming impaired in any way (mentally or physically) or once I have gone..."

I really love that paragraph. This in essence says a great deal about who you are - you're a giver and that is a wonderful quality to have. It was a quality my ex lacked and it is refreshing to hear of someone who places importance on creating a emotionally safe and secure environment. And yep, also on a financial level because who would want to worry about possibly losing the house, worry about how the bills will be paid, or covering medical expenses when you've just lost your partner and are dealing with so much grief? I couldn't imagine it and I think it really does pay to plan ahead and take into account all of the possibilties. This shows that you are someone who takes on board responsibility within a relationship.