By Laura Hinchcliffe
I am a homo sapien; by definition, a member of the human race.
I have a heart that pumps blood through my body, and lungs that filter air.
I have skin, nails and hair.
Unlike some, I have access to all five of my senses.
I am lucky to have four functional limbs, two working eyes, all of my teeth, ten fingers, and ten toes.
I have come almost twenty-three years without any serious physical injury.
My brain has a tendency to make me unwell, but I am not alone in this struggle.
Because I am human, I can walk, talk, eat, sleep, run and fall. Some humans cannot do these things, but that doesn’t mean that they are not humans.
In my opinion, these factors are determined by a mix of nature and nurture. They are largely out of our control, particularly in our formative years.
I have the capacity to think complexly, far beyond what most animals possess. I feel emotion; everything from intense adoration to all-consuming rage, and everything in between.
I have a past, but at this specific moment, I have a future.
I am a human being, as I hope you are too.
The one thing that separates me from several you is my sexuality.
In the Australian law, marriage is defined as ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.
This is an antiquated and extremely discriminatory description of a union that should be based solely on love and affection, rather than genitals.
I am one of the fortunate ones. I was supported enough in my youth to feel comfortable admitting to myself that I am not attracted to men. I was later encouraged by my family’s support, and later from the support of friends, colleagues, employers, doctors, nurses, acquaintances and strangers who passed through my life.
For many, that is not the case. For many people in the LGBTTQQIAAP community, that is not the case. They are shunned, ridiculed and even killed. All for something that is completely out of their control.
You see, no one willingly signs up to this community. No one raises their hand and says, ‘yes, please sign me up for extreme prejudice, judgement and injustice.’ It doesn’t work like that. You are either born into the community, or you’re not.
Sometimes, I wish that I was not. I often used to wish to be ‘normal’. But I have come to realise that normality is unachievable, simply because it does not exist.
I can’t go to weddings without feeling a sense of despair. Of course, love and joy abound at these celebrations, but along with it comes a sense of exclusion. Here I am, celebrating the love between two individuals. And because their gender identities are in agreence with their genitals, and because they happen to fit into a wholly outdated description of a legal marriage, they get to sign a piece of paper that gives legal recognition to their relationship.
Too many times I have heard the line, ‘it’s just a piece of paper’. And yes, it is. But if you were in a classroom of six children, and you gave five of them a piece of paper to draw on, leaving the sixth empty handed, wouldn’t it be fair to say that that is unfair?
So yes, to you it may be just a piece of paper, but to me, and many in my community, it is a recognition of our existence; of our value; of our intrinsic humanity. That piece of paper validates my status as a person; it validates my normality, for lack of a better term.
Because, identifying outside of the hetrosexual norm doesn’t mean that I am abnormal, it just means that I am not a carbon copy of the person sitting next to me.
We are in the year 2017. Children are being killed in someone else’s war. Nazis have returned, and instead of condemning them on sight, we are forced to watch as one of the most powerful leaders of the free world stays silent. Nuclear war is a real threat, and diseases which were once irradiated because of vaccines are returning. Entire species and ecosystems are ceasing to exist, and centuries old cultures are being undermined for personal gain.
And yet, here we are, arguing over a piece of paper.
We are literally arguing over a piece of paper.
So please, if even one thing that I have said has hit a chord, please vote yes.