I met my fiancé, Steve, eight years ago tonight. It’s fair to say a lot has changed in the time since.
The Oxford St nightclub we met in no longer exists (thanks lock-out laws). The hotel we went back to – romantic, I know – is currently being converted into apartments (thanks housing bubble).
We’ve moved cities – for Steve twice, the first to Canberra to be with me (if that’s not love I don’t know what is), the second when we moved to Sydney together a few years later.
We’ve changed careers – again for Steve multiple times.
We’ve bought into the Great Australian Dream (or the Modern Australian Nightmare), taking out an insanely-large mortgage to buy an apartment. But we’ve made it our home.
Our families have changed too. We met one week after my brother’s wedding. They’ve since had two children. My sister and her husband have had another, while Steve’s sister and her partner have two more. From having no nieces or nephews between us, we’re now uncles to five. Although, less happily, Steve has also lost his grandfather.
Obviously, we’ve changed a lot as people too. We’re both older, and hopefully wiser (and truth-be-told probably a bit wider, and with a little less hair too).
Just like any relationship there’s been plenty of ups and downs in those eight years – thankfully there have been many, many more of the former.
But, despite all the things that have changed since the night that changed my life for the better, forever, in August 2008, there have been a few things that have stayed the same.
First, and above all else, is the love between us, apparent from the earliest days of our relationship, and still going strong 2,922 days later.
Second is the fact our relationship continues to be discriminated against under Australian law.
I asked Steve to marry me in January 2010, just under 18 months after we met (what can I say, I knew then he was a ‘keeper’), and was incredibly happy when he replied “Of course I will.”
And yet, more than six and a half years later, and unlike my brother and sister who have both had the opportunity to marry their respective partners, the law continues to say that our relationship is somehow ‘unworthy’.
Which brings me to the third thing that hasn’t changed over the course of the past eight years – that our elected representatives continue to let tens of thousands of couples, just like Steve and me, down.
We’ve had a revolving door of Prime Ministers during that time – Rudd, Gillard, Rudd again (briefly), Abbott and now Turnbull.
None have found the time to overturn John Howard’s homophobic ban on marriage equality, which has its own 12th anniversary this Saturday (13 August). Indeed, outside Rudd’s ‘lame-duck’ second stint as PM, none have even bothered to try.
Their collective failure means that tonight Steve and I will spend our 8th anniversary sitting down to answer the census – we really are the kings of romance – and marking down our relationship status as de facto, rather than married.
In fact, we’ll be doing exactly the same thing as we did on our 3rd anniversary – the 2011 census also fell on August 9 – having to formally document the 2nd class treatment of our relationship.
But it feels different, and much, much worse, this time around. Maybe it was the fact we had only been engaged for 18 months, or perhaps that we still had hope Parliament might quickly see that love is love and that’s all that maters.
Whatever it is, the prospect of giving exactly the same answer – that we are still not married – five years later is incredibly depressing, and profoundly disillusioning with my country and especially its politicians.
That’s five years of Australia making absolutely no progress on this issue.
Five years in which Denmark and Brazil and France and Uruguay and New Zealand and England and Wales and Scotland and Luxembourg and Ireland and the United States and Colombia have all managed to recognise that marriage should be open to all, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.
Five years, full of sound (the empty words of our elected representatives) and fury (ours), ultimately achieving nothing.
All we need is 76 members of the House of Representatives, and 39 Senators, to find it in their hearts to finally determine that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and our relationships, are equal.
All we need is for a leader to, you know, actually lead and just Get. It. Done. Already.
Get it done because we’re done with the delays, and we’re done with the excuses, and we’re done with a Parliament that can’t even pass a simple law, defining marriage as the union of any two people.
Get it done because we’re done with politicians who will stand among us at Mardi Gras but apart from us in Canberra. Who, when we need them to stand up against homophobia, remain firmly seated.
And so, on the morning of Steve and my 8th anniversary I make this personal plea to you, Malcolm Turnbull – when Parliament resumes in three weeks’ time, please make the time to debate and vote on marriage equality.
Not on enabling legislation to hold an unnecessary, wasteful and ultimately harmful plebiscite, one that seemingly no-one outside the Australian Christian Lobby, The Australian newspaper and the extreme right of your Party Room wants.
I mean a debate and vote on real-life, life-changing marriage equality.
If you do, it could be passed by October, and Australian LGBTI couples could be married before the year is out.
The choice is yours. Please make the right one.
Because, as you can probably tell by now, I’m done with spending yet another anniversary having to write down on yet another census that my and Steve’s relationship does not deserve the same recognition as the relationship between you and Lucy.
It does. And you have the power, and the responsibility, to just Get. It. Done.