Marriage Equality: Towards a More Inclusive Society

Marriage equality was a progression of society towards a better future but this essay will argue that it is no where near the final hurdle in overcoming discriminatory practices which privilege hetero-normativity. In marriage equality essay conclusion this topic will be considered. 

The traditional idea of the family, accessing goods and services, media portrayal, travel, safety and education are all still rooted in heteronormative ideas and threaten the safe integration of the LGBTQIA community into the global society. Along with these hurdles comes the overshadowing of LGBTQIA successes, marriage equality changed the lives of thousands of LGBTQIA people, and to overshadow the success of marriage equality with claims about misguided intentions and it only being used as a distraction takes away from its success. It jumps back over the hurdle and moves us further away from the finish line.

Marriage equality was one hurdle for overcoming discriminatory practises against the LGBTQIA community. Passed in 2015 in the United States and in 2017 in Australia marriage equality was a huge stride made in the Western World. The conventional and often religiously based ideas of what marriage should look like evolved, or at least it has for many. It is however not the final hurdle in overcoming heteronormatie practices which favour heterosexual relationships and individuals. Although in Australia and the US and most other westernised nations same-sex marriage is legal it might not always be embraced. The stigma and negative associations that have come with being part of the LGBTQIA community did not disappear when the laws were passed. Although LGBTQIA individuals can get married there are still barriers that might prevent them from doing so. The Masterpiece Cakeshop controversy is one example of heteronormativity prevailing and privileging traditional hertosexual couples. In refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple the cake shop set a presedent that meant those in opposition had a leg to stand on and although they could not make it illegal for the same-sex couple to marry they could make it incredibly difficult for them to have the day the dreamed about. This is a dangerous precedent to set because it opens the door for other professionals to refuse service based on sexual orientation, medical professionals, legal professionals and the list goes on.

Access to goods and services is very important, at the top of the services all people should get is access to medical care, unfortunately that is not the reality. Years of neglect and ignorance against the gay community has created widespread problems. The HIV/Aids epidemic had a huge impact on the LGBTQIA community with gay and bisexual men being disproportionatley affected by the diease. Still to this day there is a stigma in the medical community when it comes to treating gay and bisexual men. A stigma that becomes another hurdle in the race for equality.

Heteronormativity as the dominant strand of thought has become ingrained in almost all aspects of society, marriage equality was one step in the right direction, expanding the idea of what a traditional family is but that is not the end. Adoption by LGBTQIA parents is still in several countries a heavily contested issue because many people do not identify members of the LGBTQIA as being able to have a traditional family because they do not fit into that heteronormative definition. The media portrayal of LGBTQIA relationships and individuals also plays a huge role in reinforcing or fighting against these heteronormativie ideas. Visibility and acceptance is a huge goal for the community and they have been working towards it for decades, although there is still progress to be made the success of children's books and TV shows featuring honest representations of LGBTQIA people shows the progress that has been made so far.

The inclusion of LGBTQIA people in the creation of these representations is fundamental as well, although visibility and publicity is important after years of damaging media coverage the message that needs to be sent out has to be the accurate one. Still less than 5% of regular (recurring) characters on television were LGBTQIA, a community which represents a sizable portion of the global community. Overcoming heteronormativity is about far more than just marriage, it is about visibility, acceptance and equal opportunities, which so far have not been fully achieved.

It is impossible to discuss the issue of heteronormativity without also addressing the inequality within the LGBTQIA community. Minorities, within the community face much higher hurdles than the rest, marriage equality was huge and for the most part does not discriminate against minorities within the LGBTQIA community they still face less visibility and stronger backlash. Trans people of colour are one of the minority groups within the community fighting for greater visibility and acceptance. Heteronormativity hurts them especially, because coupled with other issues of race and cultural background trans people of colour have not only more hurdles but higher hurdles than others when trying to build a safe life for themselves in the greater community. The forwards motion of the movement, jumping over hurdles also requires the unique voices of trans people of colour and other minorities to give their unique experiences a chance to be heard and engaged with positively in a global setting.

Marriage equality didn’t erase years of violence against the LGBTQIA community and it didn’t prevent further violence either. Although lesbian, gay, trans and queer individuals can marry in Australia and other western states they can still recieve fines and jail time even to the extent of recieveing the death penalty for identifying as LGBTQIA in several countries overseas. Extrajudicial beatings and killings are also widespread in countries that criminalise and continue to stigmatise homosexuality. This makes traveling safely overseas an inherently heternormative experience because the fear of injury or death would discourage anyone who wasn’t heterosexual from doing so. That adds a few more hurdles before true equality is reached. Not to mention the constant fear and threat of violence members of the LGBTQIA community feel living in countries where being themselves is considered a criminal act.

Children and how they are educated about LGBTQIA is also a sensitive issue with a lot of discourse on both sides. The current lack of proper sex education especially of homosexual relationships can leave children who grow up and discover they are LGBTQIA in a vulnerable position, especially if their parents are not properly educated on the topic either. The safety of children is paramount, and that’s the safety of all children. The continued use of stigma and negativity when discussing issues relating to LGBTQIA relationships can damage and make children who are or might be LGBTQIA feel unsafe and damage their mental health. If LGBTQIA children cannot feel safe at school or engaging in healthy relationships while they grow their mental health can be seriously affected and they can develop depression and anxiety which could stay with them the rest of their life. The education of LGBTQIA issues in a healthy and accepting way will not endanger other children it will foster a more accepting and diverse community. This is a tremendous hurdle that has yet to be jumped over, and the way in which it is dealt with in the present will determine the direction of future norms.

The assumption held by some that marriage equality was only passed as a political distraction and to garner more votes for the left is damaging to the gay rights movement as a whole. It furthers the narrative that marriage equality wasn’t the result of a change of societal values to a more accepting progressive society but instead was a political campaign move. The large support and ‘YES’ vote in Australia proved there is a growing change of societal values but to discredit that change and give the idea that it didn’t actually have anything to do with gay rights gives a platform to those who activley and vocally discriminate against the existance of LGBTQIA people. Acknowledging this interpretation of marriage equality would be jumping back over the hurdle backwards.

To sum up, the race for equality is not over. Marriage equality has been granted, but not everywhere, LGBTQIA people and their allies are still running the race for equality, they still have several hurdles to go before we all get to the finish line together. Only once every person of every race, age and sexual orientation are granted the same opportunities and given the same treatment will we have crossed the final hurdle in overcoming practises which privilege hetero-normativity    

10 October 2022
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