GUEST EDITORIAL – Love is patient, love is kind

Let’s celebrate the anthem to love and marriage equality, “Same Love” performed by US rapper Macklemore and singer Mary Lambert at the NRL grand final. In the midst of a bruising national debate about marriage equality it was pure joy to bask in the emotion of a great song sung with passion before a huge live audience. It was a show of support many of us needed at this point in the campaign for full equality before the law.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is currently conducting a survey. Every adult Australian is being asked, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” For some of us it has been a long march to full equality. When I was growing up as a young lesbian in the 1960s the messages we received about homosexuality were bleak. It was against the law, a mental illness and against God’s will. Despite this devastating trifecta of rejection, deep in my soul I heard a voice: “No! I am not a criminal. I am not mad. God loves me.”

In 1974 homosexuality stopped being a mental illness when the American Psychiatric Association supported its removal from the “psychiatrists’ bible”: the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders. Homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW in 1984. The first state to take homosexuality out of the criminal code was South Australia in 1975 and the last was Tasmania in 1997.

The struggle for a welcome from faith groups continues. The public support from Australian Christians for Marriage Equality is refreshing. The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies passed a motion supporting equal treatment under Australian law to same-sex couples who choose to marry. A courageous group was launched in August this year, Muslims for Marriage Equality, saying “there is a strong thread of egalitarianism and social justice within the Koran and we think that it is very applicable to the question of same-sex marriage.”

At the end of the “Same Love” performance at the grand final, rainbow coloured smoke blasted towards the heavens as the final chorus of the song quoted 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind.” Full equality is almost here.

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