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Image of a face; male on one side, female on the other

Artwork by Melinda Jensen

Read…and weep. 

Especially those of you who consider yourselves decent human beings;  compassionate and reasonable human beings who would never tolerate the presence, here in Australia, of an underclass…and yet you voted, ‘No’. I am calling on you to have a good, long look inside yourself.

There are celebrations here in Australia; among those who believe in equality. All of us who believe in love. All of us who believe we’re not gods at the centre of the universe, casting judgment upon the masses…nor making decisions that impinge on the basic human rights of others. We’re celebrating…but with a dark and heartbreaking undercurrent.

But right now…before I launch into my story…my daughters’ story…my granddaughter’s story…


Tomorrow at 9am (Qld time), the verdict of the marriage equality survey will be announced. Ever since it was agreed that the nation would vote, I’ve felt progressively more quietly downtrodden – while the support has been truly beautiful, hearing of friends and family silently voting no has made me feel sick, and the ones doing it loudly even more so. The sheer number of people I thought – by association and friendship – were supportive of me as a person who think I’m lesser, not worthy, or abhorrent is terrifying. That’s what a no vote says to me – that I am not okay, not worthy, don’t deserve happiness or love. I don’t understand and I can’t comprehend it.

Being in a relationship with a man, a woman, a non binary person or anyone else makes me no less pansexual. Marriage equality being passed in Australia makes me no less pansexual. The hate I’ve witnessed, read about and been subject to makes me no less pansexual. In the end, regardless of the result, that is what this survey means to me – disenchantment, mistrust and alienation. The fact that a nation was willing to put so many people through this heartbreak just to prove a point – to vote on an established human right – is inconceivable.

Hug your family tomorrow. We need it.

Substitute the word ‘black’ for ‘pansexual’. You’re not racist, of course! Mixed race marriages have been legal for six or seven decades. Think about that for a moment. There are people living today who still bear the scars of that humiliation  and whose descendants will continue to struggle with their identities for hundreds of years to come. All because the dominant classes acted from fear instead of love.

Hark back 200 years and witness my ancestors who fled their mother country in fear for their lives – fled to the harsh colonies in Australia; that barren and frightening land. Why? Because they were convicts? No.

Because they were adventurous? Seeking a new life in the land of the free? Not exactly.

It was because they committed the worst of sins…

An ‘Orange’ married a ‘Green’.

Taboo. And so they risked their lives and their livelihoods in the name of love. We look back on those days and shake our heads at the collective ignorance, the bigotry and harsh injustices. Society was so misguided back then, we think, feeling a little smug because we’re so much more enlightened these days.

Aren’t we?

In traditional Judaism, girls are permitted to marry as young as twelve years of age, and boys at thirteen. Do we then refuse to allow all Jews to marry in this country…because sexual relationships with children are surely an abomination? For that matter, do we refuse to allow followers of other religions, like Islam, to marry because they too, allow child marriage, along with polygamy? No?

That brings me to the point made by advocates of the ‘No’ vote that I find most loathsome – that the normalization of paedosex will naturally progress from the legalization of same-sex marriage. There is no rationale behind this train of thought. Any deductive argument in its defense crumbles to rubble before the end of the first paragraph.

Paedophilia is almost the sole domain of the heterosexual male. Before you shout me down, please note I said ‘almost’. Yes, there are women – vile, sick women. Yes, there are gay and lesbian paedophiles. We’re all familiar with the stories of little boys being lured into men’s toilets, and while that’s a cliche, it’s one with a basis in truth. Sometimes, it happens. (I haven’t personally read or heard of a lesbian paedophile but it stands to reason that some would exist in this world.)

BUT: The majority of sexual assaults on children take place at the hands of heterosexual men, many of whom are married or have female partners. And sometimes, their heterosexual female partners are complicit, or worse, active participants. Incest is hardly a thing of the past.

According to the hypothesis that underlies the position that paedosex naturally follows from the legalization of same-sex marriage, it would be more logical then, to refuse to allow heterosexual couples to marry.

I have gender-fluid friends and members of my family – all of whom I’d trust implicitly with my children – well, grandchildren then; my daughters have long-since left their childhoods behind them. There are however, a number of heterosexual people I’d hesitate to entrust with something so precious as a human life. Call it intuition, if you will. I call it spiritual discernment.

My last point is one I approach with some trepidation – the Christian viewpoint. And yet, it is, in some ways, the most salient point – largely because it is the Christian contingent in this country who have voiced their objections so venomously. I won’t attempt to broach this subject from a doctrinal perspective. Nor will I pretend to be knowledgeable enough to quote scripture with any certainty of a perfect understanding of its original meaning. What is needed from those who believe in God, is the humility to admit that, not only do we struggle to comprehend scripture as it’s translated today (it’s complicated!), but the vast majority of us are abysmally ignorant of the nuances of the language in which it was first written. I’ll also go out on a limb and say I believe we don’t have the full scriptures to hand. How could we? Thousands of years of translations at the hands of mere humanity; lost manuscripts; the politically motivated church leaders in charge of deciding which books and verses to include and which to destroy or hide under lock and key – all of it points to the fact we need to listen with our hearts.

And my heart says that the harsh and judgmental voices of so many ‘No’ voters have shredded the souls of so many vulnerable human beings. They have been invalidated, belittled and made to feel ‘less than’; they have, as made clear in the quote above, been hurt to the very core. They are humiliated and shamed. There was a significant rise in the number of suicides among the ‘non-heterosexual’ community in the lead-up to this sham of a postal survey. They felt as monsters on display awaiting a verdict. Guilty of the sin of being who they are. Offered up to the masses for scrutiny; for trial and sentencing.

In the memorable words of the ‘elephant man’, ‘I am not a monster!’

As a mother, it utterly breaks my heart.

The author of the heartfelt plea I’ve quoted here is my youngest daughter, Kim Kahler. Both my daughters are ‘other’. I am incredibly proud of them. They are so much more than I ever was or will ever be.

I have witnessed their acts of compassion and sacrifice, their contributions to society, their commitment to the environment, their admirable work ethic and unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom, their responsible parenting and their quests for justice. And I have seen them brought low by those who resort to small-mindedness, ignorance, bigotry and pure hate. They have not responded in kind.

So to all of you who voted ‘No’ – I know you have your reasons. But please…please…realize and take responsibility for the depth of pain you’ve inflicted on vulnerable human beings who need, more than anything else, your love.

Search your hearts and recognize the darkness there.