Yesterday the Australian Parliament voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill. It’s times like this when I think, “Thanks for maintaining the roads. I like the roads. But you do not represent me at all.”
But Penny Wong put it much better than I can.
Particularly to young gay and lesbian Australians, to those who may not have come out yet, or are finding their way – I want you to know that the prejudice you have heard in this debate does not reflect the direction in which this country is going.
Those who oppose this Bill speak to the past. I and my colleagues are talking to a better future.
Because whatever happens in the Parliament this week, our relationships are not inferior, our relationships are not less equal, and our love is no less real.
I handed in the first draft of my teen romance last week, so as a reward I took this week off. I’ve pretty much been reading without breathing, and mostly I’ve been reading m/m (male/male) romance.
I’ve been reading about repressed bankers in late 19C Manhattan, who can’t share their relationship with even their closest friends and families for fear of going to prison. I’ve been reading about Scuba Cowboys and trauma surgeons in present-day Florida who had to deal with family prejudice, but get engaged anyway, against the day their state allows them to marry.
Yesterday, when I saw on the news how very backward my government really is, I happened to be reading about a mismatched, gorgeous, crazy-romantic pair in present-day Britain. At the end of the story they get engaged. And then…they get married, in a civil ceremony, at Cambridge University where one of them is a lecturer.
It kind of blew my mind.
In the context of what happened in Australia yesterday – in the context of a not-so-distant past when gay couples couldn’t even share their relationships with the people nearest to them, and even of a present day in which gay couples are still waiting for marriage to be legalised before they can express their love out loud in the most fundamental way – that ending felt revolutionary.
The couple in that story didn’t have to wait, didn’t have to hesitate. They just got married. And it’s not a fairytale, either – it’s just present-day Britain.
This is one of the things I love most about the romance genre. It made that experience real to me. It’s so unfalteringly optimistic when it comes to love.
I know there are conservative romance writers and readers out there, but for me, yesterday, my genre was one of the most powerful revolutionary forces operating inside this political debate. Romance doesn’t come into political speeches or reports – but it makes gay equality a reality for its readers, out in the world where change is happening no matter what our governments say.