The Ellen and Portia Show has hit Australia. For those living under a rock, Ellen is, of course, Ellen DeGeneres, the American talk show host who has been brought to Australia by Qantas. Ellen is married to Australian actress, Portia de Rossi (previously Amanda Rogers). DeGeneres has travelled down the east coast of Australia, finishing her tour yesterday in Melbourne with a 5,000 strong crowd at Birrarung Marr park. Last night, at the Hyatt Hotel, she crossed paths with newly installed Victorian State Premier, Dennis Napthine. Earlier that morning, on Radio 3AW, Mr. Napthine had stated that he is not in favour of gay marriage, first saying it was a Federal matter, but then confirming his opposition to it anyway.
“We’ll get married as many times as possible … And the Premier’s wrong, but he’ll come round.”
Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage in California. The ruling, which may take months to come down, could potentially extend the right to same-sex marriage to every state in the country.
Do I really care that Ellen DeGeneres is in town for what appears to be an airline promotion? No. But it is an interesting coincidence that this openly – and apparently very happily married-gay star is here at the same time as her country’s highest court is considering a challenge to one state’s ban on same-sex marriage – a challenge that could potentially clear the way for gay marriage in all the states.
Many will say that there are greater problems facing Australia than the issue of whether gays should have the right to be married. And while there is a lot of publicity about gay marriage, which often leads us to believe the percentage of gays must be quite high, the most recent estimates are that only 1-2 per cent of Australians are identifying as gay. Sure, some may not be comfortable to reveal their sexual preference, but even if we double or triple this number, it is a small proportion of the population.
So again, who cares if gay marriage is made legal?
Well I do.
I find it sad that, in an incredibly hostile political environment, about the only thing our two major parties can agree upon is to deny gays the right to get married.
And I find it infuriating that this question is in the hands of politicians anyway. Of course such laws must pass through Parliment, but why should a handful of conservatives decide what happens for the rest of the country on such an intensely personal issue? Surely our sexuality is as personal as it gets. I don’t believe we ‘choose’ it – we are something, or we are not. And it is entirely our business what that is, and with whom we wish to form a legal union.
So while I don’t care about American talk show hosts in general, this one makes a lot of sense. Go Ellen! Go Portia! I hope you have had an impact.
What about you? Do you think gay marriage should be decided by party politics? Or should a conscience vote bring on a resolution?