I spied her clipboard from across the room, as she drew it slowly from her bag. Noting the image across the top of the petition sheet, my heart sank. It was the Family First Protect Marriage petition and it had no good purpose being anywhere near me.
"You'll sign this won't you? To protect marriage!"
"Ah no, I've already signed the other one, the opposite one, in fact."
"But, but, but, you're MARRIED!"
"Yes, and I think any two people who love each other should be able to marry. Let's make it open to more people, and share the love."
We both found something else important to do elsewhere.
Opposite sex marriage is simply not under attack. It doesn't need to be protected from same sex marriage at all. Marriage is about a commitment between people* which has meaning for them. What I might think about their marriage is irrelevant. What happens in my marriage doesn't impact on anyone else's marriage, or civil union, in any way. What does Family First think they are protecting marriage from?
Tonight a friend of mine, who happens to be gay, mentioned to me how he appreciated my support because this doesn't affect me. In a way it is easier for me to be out there about my views, precisely because it is not about me; there is no criticism of the way I live my life, of the person I am, in all the many awful arguments against marriage equality that I have seen. I really feel for those out there who are on the frontlines of this in a way I am not; many of whom will not want to be even having a battle, and shouldn't have to be, to justify who they are.
There are many many people who support marriage equality, for reasons of justice and fairness, and just down right treating everyone as a full human being. We should be making the world better than it was when we arrived, for those who come after, and marriage equality is one little way to help.
For those interested in the debate and vote on the first reading, estimates so far is that it is likely to occur at around 8pm Wednesday night. There is a celebration rally going from Civic Square to Parliament tomorrow also, from 12noon. There is a great deal of activity on Facebook in support of Louisa Wall's Bill too, not least longstanding group LegaliseLove, the adorable Can these otters holding hands get more fans than Protect Marriage NZ? (the answer is YES THEY CAN), and a range of pages showing that support is definitely not restricted to Pakeha queer atheists, but is rather more widespread than that: Tagata Pasifika for Marriage Equality, Christians for Marriage Equality Aotearoa NZ and Straights for Marriage Equality in Aotearoa NZ (SMEANZ).
Currently the Bill looks likely to pass its first reading tomorrow night. The process from there is that it goes to Select Committee for public submissions. After that it gets a second and then a third and final reading in Parliament. After the third reading it is officially law.
* I'm pretty open-minded on the issue of polyamorous marriage. I think it has had a bad reputation because it has most commonly been seen in societies where women do not have high status and has thus been a tool for oppressing women, but it doesn't have to be that way imho. This is not really a post about that though.
Comment direction: No hate in the comments thanks, plenty of other places on the interweb for that, sadly. There have been a lot of amazing posts about this issue over the last few weeks, not least from my co-bloggers, so you may wish to share the ones that particularly appealed to you in comments :-)