Marriage equality is not just about love – it’s also about illlness and death
All of the arguments for marriage equality being made by the ‘ Yes’ campaigners are hugely valid, but for me, the biggest issue is the difference it will make during situations of illness and death – that’s crunch time.
We know that in Australia, there are few differences between the legal rights of de facto partners and married partners – however, there is one big difference and that is related to who is ‘next of kin’. There is no clear definition and it differs from state to state.
While de facto partners are recognised by law, they are not airtight. Should a person in a de facto relationship be placed in hospital for whatever reason, and their significant other is not recognised as an emergency contact, the hospital may not consider the non-injured partner as next of kin and possibly not allow them to even visit the hospital bed, let alone make essential decisions. This is not the case for married couples.
It is up to the non-injured de facto partner to prove their relationship. At such times of emotional stress, this is clearly not practical, and absolutely totally unfair.
Take my relationship for example. My partner, Fiona, and I have been together for 12 years. Our children, who are mine from a previous relationship (a marriage, also of 12 years), live with us permanently and have done so for many years. Fiona, for all intents and purposes, has co-parented these children for 12 years – both financially and emotionally. We have a shared mortgage, investment property, bank accounts, etc. We are both university educated, work full-time in professional jobs, pay taxes, donate to charity and generally do our bit to contribute to our society.
Our children, now 19 and 16, have been co-parented by Fiona for the majority of their lives, they refer to her as ‘Mum’ and choose to live with us 100% of the time – a choice they make because of the love, the support and the care they receive in our household.
However, should I be injured in a car accident, for example, and be placed on life-support, my mother and my siblings (who are mostly conservative in their views) would have more say over what happens to me than my partner of 12 years. Their ‘next of kin’ status would be assumed, whereas my partner would have to prove hers. This wouldn’t be the case if we were married.
Further, should I die, again my mother and my siblings, as well as my childrens’ father, would have a greater say over my daughter’s living arrangements ( because she is under 18) than my partner. Again, my partner would have to provide evidence and put up a fight; an argument she would not have to enter into if we were married.
When it comes to superannuation, every three years I have to complete a new ‘ binding death nomination’, to ensure that Fiona receives her fair share of my superannuation and life insurance in the event of my death. She has to do the same for me. If we were married, it would be assumed.
Voting ‘ YES’ to marriage equality is not a vote for political correctness, it won’t put us on a slippery slope to bestiality or polygamy, as many of the ‘No’ campaigners would have you believe. You won’t be forced to marry us in your churches (indeed, we wouldn’t want to anyway!) and you won’t have to change the definition of marriage as it stands as a religious sacrament.
Voting ‘ YES’ is not going to change Your marriage, or Your