Whether or not Australians vote to allow same sex couples to marry in a plebiscite (and I believe they will) the damage will already be done.
Emotions are never far from the surface when it come to politics. When people feel passionately about an issue it is usually because they are emotionally connected. They have found a way to feel something — and those feelings have driven them to take action.
That’s why, as more and more people put up their hand and said “this is me”, in turn their family and friends were faced with the reality that these issues are not about other people. They are about all people, all families, all friendship groups.
They are about the fundamental building blocks of our daily lives: The people we love (not just romantically) are all unique, valuable and whole, no matter who else they might love. When they are attacked, verbally or physically, we feel it. We hurt with them. We want to protect them.
Watch Penny Wong talk to Mamamia about her family. (Post continues after video.)
That’s why we see grandparents stand up and support LGBTIQ rights where they maybe haven’t before — because they’ve finally been forced to see someone as something aside from an “other”. A much-loved granddaughter or grandson, perhaps.
Not everyone reacts this way. Some families are divided, not strengthened, by this type of news. In their homes, every day, they are at war with themselves and each other, trying to reconcile what they’ve always believed and what they now know.
It’s never pretty. It’s never nice. It’s never pleasant. My God, why would we want to drag an entire nation through it?
I know these things to be true, because my dad came out to me when I was 18 years old. I already knew, having figured it out a long time before, and I didn’t care one bit. But the pain on his face, the reluctance with which he “confessed” made it perfectly clear to me that this was not news he’d had a lot of success sharing.
I grew up in a very different household to many of my peers, but gee I was loved. And I love my family with a ferocity that’s hard to describe. They are the best people I know.