The Day of “Reckoning” has Come
Malta is introducing same-sex marriage.
Take a deep breath and think about that…just for a moment: think about that!
Gay and Lesbian couples will soon be able to get married in this country, enjoying the full rights (and obligations) that a straight couple would. No “ifs” and “buts”, no subterfuges, no calling it a union anymore: equal rights, full dignity.
Yes that’s right, the Maltese parliament is debating and voting on the bill which will legalise same-sex marriages. It’s not “something they will consider” or “which they ought to be discussing”, it is not an electoral promise, it is not a political pledge or commitment. It is real, it is happening, and it is happening right now!
Can you smell it?
Of course you can, we all can.
The conservative establishment will claim it is the foul smell of “our values” rotting away, while their closeted reactionary fake-liberal pseudo-intellectual elitist allies will denounce smoking mirrors aimed at distracting the peasants from some mischievous evil tin foil hat conspiracy theory plot they will dream of this month. We say it is the smell of equality, the scent of some justice being delivered and we love it!
But why should we care, should we be enthusiastic about it? For someone who came to our country in the last 4 or 5 years, or who is too young to really remember how this country used to be just a few years ago, this could sound like no big deal at all. For the country which topped the ILGA equality rankings, it was about time same-sex marriage was actually introduced. After-all both major parties had promised same-sex marriage in their electoral programme…it was a done deal…a forgone conclusion…right…right?
Yeah…sure it was…*eye roll again*
The long road to equality
Just six years ago, the Maltese parliament was still reluctantly debating the introduction of divorce legislation after a hard fought referendum saw the Pro-Divorce side emerge victorious by 14,576 votes. If six years ago someone would have told me Malta would introduce gay marriage before I reached pensionable age (I’ m currently in my mid-thirties), I would have burst laughing in their face. If someone had to tell me Malta was going to top the ILGA equality rankings, I would have questioned them about what were they smoking.
This bill of law being approved today is no mean feat, it is a historical achievement fruit of a visionary leadership which mustered the strength to inspire a nation. This achievement was never a foregone conclusion, but the result of true statesmanship willing to pay the political price for the greater interest of the country. Finally this is the accomplishment of a kind hearted people who found the courage to open their hearts, free their minds and choose unity over divisiveness, tolerance over elitism, acceptance over bigotry, and love over hate. This is a historical achievement which materialised as a result of visionary leadership, strong political will, and a lot of hard work not an incident the country happened to stumble upon by chance; and if you think a different government, led by other people, under different circumstances would have enacted this law so easily you are outright delusional!
“but the Nationalist Party pledged it in their electoral manifesto too” – I can hear some of you protest.
Yes they did, the PN had also pledged a cohabitation bill…back in 1998. It promised it again in 2003 as the law had not been passed yet. The PN, now under a new and younger Leader, repeated its pledge in 2008 as the bill of law had been collecting dust on the shelves of the appeasement of the influential Catholic vote. In 2010, the then Nationalist Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi even indicated that he might have “the people who are like that” (i.e. gays) “stuffed into” the law. By the time the 2013 change in government happened, the cohabitation bill was still sitting on the shelves collecting dust, until the new government finally enacted into law after having to re-write the now obsolete bill.
If the Nationalist Party had managed to regain power their electoral promise would have yielded some draft of a bill of law collecting dust on parliament’s shelves at most. Postponing and delaying gay marriage legislation would be the way to respect the will of their electors, for Tonio Fenech is absolutely correct when he claims that the majority of the Nationalist electorate is staunchly conservative. Just not outright opposing it is all the “liberal wing” of the PN could have aspired to get.
Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo’s reaction to same-sex marriage legislation, and the timid backing of his ultra conservative colleagues Jason Azzopardi and David Agius seem to portray their party’s real beliefs on this matter much more truthfully than the “official” Party line depicted by Simon Busuttil. On the other hand Beppe Fenech Adami’s statement that the Marriage Equality Bill is a victory for love sounds as authentic as a $50 Rolex. At the end of the day for those who actually listened carefully, what Simon Busutil had declared before the election was that “…since (the evil) Joseph Muscat has gone ahead and de-facto introduced same-sex marriage under the guise of civil unions we might as well just change the name.”
Controversy and Differing Opinions
But should we really celebrate the extension of the right to get married to same-sex couples?
As a matter of fact some people are just against it in principle. They consider it a sin against God, the destruction of family as we know it, or the first step towards the introduction of abortion. Now if you feel the last one sounds familiar, do not worry – you’re right! Civil marriage (1975), divorce (2011), civil unions (2013), IVF (2012/4/5/8? – okay it’s complicated), and the morning after pill (2016) were all supposed to lead to abortion.
They claimed that the law referring to spouses instead of “husband” and “wife” means that normal couples are being forbidden from using such terms, completely ignoring that same-sex couple already use those terms too. Being a “husband” or a “wife” is not merely a status that derives from some magical piece of paper, it is something which is earned through the way you behave towards your partner. The “magical paper” is there just to acknowledge it and award you the deriving legal rights. So the law will recognise you as spouses instead of “husband and “wife” – you know just like the Inland revenue department has already been doing for many years.
Then there is the issue of freedom of speech and I do support Tonio Fenech’s and Edwin Vassallo’s right to express their views. As a human being you have rights, including the rights of freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. You are fully allowed to express your arguments and ideas, no matter how ridiculous, ludicrous, or stupid they are. Just like I have the right to point out how stupid, ludicrous and ridiculous your ideas are; because as a human being you have rights, but your ideas and ideology do not!
You want to express your opinion? Go ahead, it’s your right! You want to get offended and complain about it? Go ahead, get offended and complain about it all you want – it’s your right; however, denying other people’s right to not be discriminated against is not your right.
The conservatives are indeed right to smell something rotting away and to be the first to smell it, as there is something which actually is and they are the ones closest to it. It is the cobwebs in the minds the blanketing them from being exposed for the dimwit dinosaurs that they are. For the elitist wannabe-cosmopolitan bourgeoisie, it is the smell of another pedestal “granting them the moral high ground” from which they could chastise the ignorant obtuse peasants going up in smoke. For the rest of us, the absolute majority who wholeheartedly voted for this to happen, it’s the sweet scent of love and respect.
Today is not a day for chastising, today is a day for celebrating the triumph of love. It’s been a long road getting from there to here, but time has finally come for equality to prosper and love to prevail.