As a fierce supporter of marriage equality, I am today publishing an open letter in support of Australian Marriage Equality, a full copy of which I have submitted to the campaign for change. I will never understand those who seek to deny one section of our population the opportunity to pledge their love for one another in the company of their friends and family, or the opportunity to enjoy the same legal rights in their relationship as the rest of us.
So here’s my letter. I encourage you to pledge your support too.
I, Sarah Louise Aird, Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant, write to express my support for Marriage Equality.
Australian celebrants are privileged to share in a unique celebration of love when couples make formal and legal commitments to each other. We can see that the joy of the moment extends far beyond the couple making the commitment and also includes their families, friends and communities.
In contemporary Australia, however, some couples are denied the opportunity to share the joy of this moment. As marriage equality is not recognised, couples in same-sex relationships do not enjoy the same rights and are not treated with the same dignity as other Australians.
As a celebrant, I believe I have an important role to play in promoting inclusion and tolerance. I support diversity in society and recognise the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians to marry. Denying celebrants the ability to marry same-sex couples also impinges on our individual freedom.
I believe the rights and liberties of all individuals are sacrosanct. They are essential in the creation of a healthy, harmonious and open society. An equitable society, free of discrimination, allows all members to function at their best. Legalised discrimination in one area allows discrimination to flourish in all areas.
Australia is a robust democracy with a proud history of social reform. This should continue, with all citizens being treated equally, including those who are currently excluded from the institution of marriage.
Australians are increasingly supportive of marriage equality, with a recent Crosby Textor survey showing 72% of Australians are in favour of same-sex couples being able to marry. This overwhelming level of support should be reflected with legal change.
Globally, 19 countries have passed laws to allow same-sex marriage, including countries that are culturally similar to ours such as New Zealand and Great Britain. These countries passed this important reform with a lower level of public support for marriage equality than exists in Australia right now. In the United States, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalised same-sex marriage.
On 22 May 2015, the Republic of Ireland held a referendum to sanction same-sex marriage. A Yes vote was supported by the Government, all major political parties and the voters themselves. In June of this year, the US Supreme court is likely to return a judgement in favour of legalising same-sex marriage across that nation.
These two events will see Australia isolated amongst countries where English is spoken as a first language as the last nation to recognise equal marriage rights.
Marriage is a celebration that joins people together and denying same-sex couples this opportunity limits us as a society. Equal marriage is the only truly fair approach. It will create a climate where the bonds of love and commitment are recognised equally and celebrated widely.
The ability to make equal commitments is fair and just. Discrimination is not.
Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant