Leon Piper | Mornings producer
What rights do people in same-sex relationships already have, regardless of a plebiscite?
James Parker is an ex-member of the gay community and was in the studio with Mike to share his valuable perspective and extensive wisdom on the topic.
Podcast: James Parker talks about de facto relationships and same-sex rights
Mike: Could same gender have unified certificate and leave God’s marriage equality?
James: Look, I think this is a very good question to be asking. I really do, because really what I’ve come to understand and to see – not just me but lots of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors and other people come up to me after I’ve spoken saying thank you so much for sharing as you share. Now, one of the things I do share when I speak is about the fact that actually underneath the very core of every same-sex attracted couple that are together, or lesbian couple, gay couple or whoever, is there is often a search for a primary emotional friendship. That’s what’s going on. It’s a primary emotional relationship that’s been sexualised. Now, we live in a world today that has very fragile friendships. Most of our friends are on Facebook, whatever. And I’ve got 500 friends and, well, it’s like are they really your friends [laughs]? Do they know when you’re sad or happy, do they celebrate you or cry with you, etcetera? So what it is is we do need to rediscover what healthy friendship looks like – both same sex friendships as well as other sex friendships. Now, you know, if we were able to give a certificate of types to a couple who are same-sex attracted and said, this is it, you know, you could have your unified certificate. Well, we would need to extend that to all friendships to be able to have that in some way or another. And I think that there’s still this real strong feeling that unless gay couples or lesbian couples could have marriage that we’re somehow discriminating against them. Well, many people aren’t aware that in 2008, here in Australia, changes were made in federal law, well to 85 federal laws – not 85 changes but changes to 85 federal laws – that ensured that same-sex attracted couples would have exactly the same rights as male-female defacto couples . So in other words, the same tax breaks, the same opportunity to be able to access someone in hospital – everything became equal and nobody at any point then said, ‘well, we won’t tolerate this, we’re going to be bigoted and complain’ or our internalised or externalised homophobia is going to rise up. Nobody said anything. We said, ‘we accept that’. You know, (Australia) is an incredibly tolerant country. Now, I travel quite a lot internationally and people say, ‘ah Australia, you’re one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world’. You know, we are. We’ve got Mardi Gras. We’ve got the whole thing. And so I think what happens is, this whole thing of suddenly we’re all discriminating against others – I don’t think we are – but when it comes to the whole thing about a certificate, I really wish in some way we were able to have ways that we honoured the true friendship that happens between two members of the same sex. But as the question asks, ‘could we have some form of certificate and not call it marriage?’ Well, yeah. But my main concern is that we don’t call it marriage because ultimately it’s not marriage, as marriage would be between a man and between a women.
James joins Mike Thursdays on Mornings