I am seventeen and just finishing high school. I have only recently (in the last year or so) come to terms with the fact that I am bisexual.
I have talked to friends at school about marriage equality, and people often say that the legal rights are the same, but that the term ‘marriage’ is not for same-sex couples. But equality in everything but name is not equality.
By making a distinction between who can and can’t get married, the Australian government is sending a message that GLBTI people are somehow different, and for some people difference is grounds enough for discrimination.
I’m not out to my parents yet, and I’m convinced that coming out will be a whole lot easier if I can say ‘look, mum and dad, this isn’t a big deal, I can still get married, I can still be just the same’. And after my parents get over their initial horror (that’s the response I predict, at any rate) I think they will be concerned that I may not get to live the life they’ve dreamed of for me – a life which most certainly features marriage somewhere in it.
Marriage equality is important not only for GLBTI people, but also for easing the concerns of parents and friends of people like me, and making the coming out process that little bit easier by putting us on equal footing.