How one man’s recollections of World War II, changed my views forever…

The_Campaign_in_North_Africa_1940-1943_E18469

From national, hi-profile, Australian parliamentarians to my local MP, (even if she has misjudged the feelings of many of her constituents) everyone of any political hue in Australia seems to have a massive amount to say on the issue of same-sex marriage equality. To be honest, I’m over it. Surely there are more important things for them to be getting worked up about? I don’t mean the issue isn’t important. I just mean it’s a non-issue. Or at least it should be. It is a straightforward question of equality and civil rights. Who cares who marries who? Isn’t it a matter of personal choice? Isn’t it unlikely that the weather will change, crops will fail, seas will rise or straight married couples will implode? Is it really necessary for a whole Christian denomination to threaten a complete boycott of the marriage ceremony? Can’t we just change the law and move on?

I cannot reason why the Australian Government or religious leaders have such an issue with it. Given that our leaders are meant to be our “leaders” and leaders are meant to be “better” than the normal pack runners then surely they should be above all of this meaningless debate? They should be more attuned, quicker to understand the feelings of the majority of their followers, cleverer, stronger, something… Otherwise, why would they be leaders? In days of old the tribe (us) would have just overthrown them if they weren’t cleverer, faster, stronger. Seems quite a reasonable idea sometimes.

Mind you in days of not that long ago (Late 1990’s) I too would have decried all that “gay” stuff (and for the rest of this post where is says ‘gay’ read Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender). That was when the military in the UK was embroiled in the Stonewall case, debating whether to ‘allow’ gays to serve or not. I was against it. Initially. At first sight. Didn’t think it would work. I shared the views of all my “senior leaders” of the day who were saying things like, “it will be detrimental to the uniform code”. Then I met a woman who told me about her Grandfather.

He was a veteran of World War II. A member of the famed Desert Rats, he fought in North Africa in 1942 and ’43. He later fought in Italy, landed in Normandy on D-Day+1, fought through the low countries and into Germany. He had every right to know about war and what it meant. In his later years, when the debate on gays in the military was being discussed in the media he commented to his Granddaughter that it was all nonsense. He said he had served with lots of gays in the military during the war. It hadn’t mattered one jot. If they could pick up a gun and go in the right direction during the war, fighting bravely and indeed as he put it, keeping morale up with a wry and sometimes camp humour, then he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. “Hadn’t mattered then, don’t see why it matters now.”

That single story made me stop and consider my whole attitude. I changed my mind on the issue of gays in the Service. There and then. I reckoned if a man with a war record like that thought it was okay then who was I to doubt it. I am glad I did reconsider. I think I became a better person for it. After the “ban” was lifted, the Armed Forces didn’t crumble, they didn’t cease to be efficient or effective, nothing untoward happened to the uniform code. (Well, actually lots happened to undermine it,but that was due to the interference of Politicians and budget masters, not people’s sexual orientation).

So now, in Australia, we seem to be hung up on same-sex marriage. Many, if not most of our “Leaders” are decrying it. Yet New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, the UK (except for one little bit of it), dramatically, the USA and a whole plethora of other countries haven’t collapsed under the ‘strain’ of it. Surely it is a personal choice to get married? Whoever you are? I can’t see it should be a debate that warrants much time or attention, yet it does. I guess my take on it is simple. If gays have to pay taxes, if gays can fight in our wars and defend our countries in national emergencies and times of need, then why can’t they just get married? Seems rather silly not to let them enjoy equal rights. Let alone unfair.

But I have heard from some of our ‘Leaders’ in radio and television interviews, that it is the religious aspects that are preventing it from happening. If that is the case then why not just stop all religious marriage ceremonies from being recognised in our secular society? At least that would be an equality of sorts. Although that seems a bit of a weird action considering, as far as I can tell, gays are allowed to partake in all other religious sacraments. Baptism (and I don’t recall one instance of an exploding font), Communion, Confirmation, the Catholic Last Rites are available to all. Even Holy Orders it seems. Although of course most Churches will tell you they don’t have any Gay Priests or Vicars or Lesbian Nuns. Yeah. Right.

Anyway, at the outset of this I inferred that too much of our ‘Leaders’ time was being wasted on this. Surely there are much more ‘important’ issues that need their time and energy in vibrant and vigorous debates. Climate Change, Immigration, Economics all need to be argued about and debated. Same-sex marriage doesn’t. It is a no-brainer. It’s a simple solve. Just take away the need to mention men and women at all. Simply view it like this; let two people who love one another get married. Change the law Tony.

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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Photo courtesy of “The Campaign in North Africa 1940-1943 E18469” by No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit – http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//39/media-39188/large.jpg This is photograph E 18469 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.