January 13, 2018 by Bill Ivey
I awoke this morning to a long-awaited wedding picture shared in my Twitter messages. My friend and his partner of 23 years are standing side by side, his arm around his new husband’s shoulder. Both men are wearing one of those smiles that radiates from deep joy inside you, and there’s more than a tinge of “Finally!!!” in my friend’s smile. My eyes moistened, and I added my congratulations to the others.
Same-gender marriage has been legal in Australia since December 9, and the first ceremonies took place on December 16, just a little less than a month ago. But for those of you who have been following the story, the “Finally!” is not just that it took 116 years from the moment the country became fully independent from the U.K. for Australia to get here. The “question” of same-gender marriage was subject to a long and bitter plebiscite, and even when the results were finally known and 62% of the country had voted “yes,” there was a brief period of uncertainty as to whether or not the government would go along with the results and pass the necessary legislation. But every single state, every single territory voted “yes," making a resounding statement, and in the end, the government did the right thing.
Those of you who are heterosexual, take a moment and imagine that your civil right to marry your lifelong love was subject to the opinions of an entire country. Imagine that support for that right was countered with vicious and specious attacks on your behaviour and your very existence. Imagine this went on more intensively than ever for the four months between the announcement of the plebiscite and the final tally, with no guarantee of a positive result. Now imagine you got that positive result and all the stress and strain was finally behind you and you and your lifelong love were standing with your arms around each other, wearing wedding rings.
That’s how it feels.
At Stoneleigh-Burnham, we are an intentionally global community that does our inevitably imperfect best to seek out and embrace multiple perspectives. Within that context, our goals are that our students, and all members of our community, can be their true, authentic, inevitably imperfect best selves in the world, and that the world is ready to hear and embrace them. Our graduates living in Australia have taken one more concrete step toward that goal, even as our current students are more comfortable than ever with the diversity of sexuality that we now know exists in the world. We’re getting there.
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