My name is Brenna Harding and we met a few years ago (2015 I believe). I was visiting Canberra with Gayby Baby, a film about kids with same-sex parents, to be on a panel organised by your Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTIQ Australians. When we visited your office, you made us tea and talked to us so willingly and kindly. You quoted Wyatt Roy, saying that for people under the age of 30 the question of same-sex marriage is not a question of personal preference but a question of human decency. I walked out of that office filled with hope, rooting for you to take over Liberal leadership and finally make a change that had been so long unfairly dismissed.
My journey with same-sex marriage has been lifelong. I have two lesbian mothers and I’ve known my family was different for as long as I remember, but I’ve been raised to know that difference is a good thing. But your parents, no matter how loving, cannot protect you from the way society views you. I had a consciousness from a very early age that there were people who thought my existence was wrong, sinful, dirty and unnatural. I knew that people who had never met me and my mums talked about us, put their two cents in on whether I was being harmed. When I was on an episode of Playschool with my mums and our Prime Minister, John Howard, commented in support of taking us of off the air it confirmed that society thought I should remain hidden. Like they had expected my mothers and LGBTIQA+ predecessors to for so many centuries before me.
Marriage seems like nothing. Especially to a kid like me who’s most healthy relationship role models were all denied the opportunity. But beyond ceremonies and celebrations and public declarations of love has always been something different for me. What the push for marriage equality has really been is a plea, a plea to have someone hear how much it hurts to be told so constantly and publically that your love is wrong, that your personhood is wrong. For someone with the power to make change to stand up on behalf of that little girl who had to stick up for her lesbian mothers from the time she could talk because homophobia was so socially acceptable in Australian society.
This postal plebiscite is an invitation to spread more of these hateful messages and these gorgeous little bubbas don’t deserve it. You are granting people permission to use us as cannon fodder for their homophobic tirade. What you have done is taken the difficult decision off your shoulders and the shoulders of the Liberal party and placed the weight onto ours. We will take it. We are tough kids. We’ve been doing this forever, we know the drill, but we shouldn’t have to.
I hope Malcolm, that you are still just bound by party bullshit; that away from the camera, away from the podium you do know the damage that public rhetoric debating someone’s existence does. You will never have the same relationship with the issue that I do. It has been in the public forum for all my formative years, and today I am tired. I am exhausted, I am angry and I am sad. But I’m still fighting. Because that’s what you do for the people you love and that’s what you do for what is right.