Queers fighting for marriage rights

Plans are underway for the fifth national day of action for same-sex marriage rights. Rallies are already planned in seven cities across Australia on August 1.

The national day of action has been held every year since 2005 to commemorate the ban on same-sex marriage, passed by the Australian parliament in August 2004. The rallies are now an institution in the queer community.

In the ACT, the Greens have said they will propose a bill legalising same-sex civil unions with ceremonies to the Legislative Assembly next month.

The ACT ALP originally put forward similar legislation in 2006. This was then overturned by the Howard government. Despite this, the ALP have said they will now oppose the Greens bill.

In the United States, Iowa, Vermont and Maine are the latest states to pass legislation for same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was won in these states despite the loss of a referendum on the issue in California earlier this year.

Yet the protest campaign for equal rights in California continues. The deadline for the supreme court to rule on the legal status of same-sex marriage in California is June 3.

The planned 2009 national day of action differs from previous years because the political climate has changed. This will be the first national queer rights protests of the economic crisis.

What does same-sex marriage have to do with the economic crisis? Poverty and unemployment will mean an increased economic and emotional burden on women and the family.

Women tend to suffer higher unemployment than men whenever the capitalist economy goes into crisis. Women already perform the bulk of unpaid labour in the home. This economic and ideological pressure reinforces heterosexual gender roles and makes queers more vulnerable.

The more rigidly male and female gender roles are defined, the more lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people look like deviations from this "natural order". If women are in trouble, queer people are likely to be in trouble too.

Conversely, if a feminist movement rises that can shake our ideas about men and women to their core, it will mean queers will be fighting on more favourable terrain.

All oppressed groups in society face a grim future unless we take action together. Now is a great time to get involved in the campaign for equal rights for all — including the right to same-sex marriage.

For information about the campaign visit www.equallove.info.

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