It’s time… to get out the Kleenex

This ad from Get Up!, an Australian progressive group, urges the Australian government to legalise same sex marriage. Before you watch it, I urge you to grab a few tissues, because it is beautiful and it will probably choke you up.

The video is called “Love Story,” and with good reason: most people, if they didn’t know going into it that it was an ad for marriage equality, would probably assume it was about a straight couple. A straight couple that meets, falls in love, moves in together, builds an extended family, goes through ups and downs, and decides to get married. You know, all the things that “normal” straight couples do. The point is to show that same sex relationships don’t look that different from “traditional” ones – which is why same sex couples want and deserve the same rights as “traditional” ones.

Get Up! is urging the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act so that it no longer permits marriage discrimination. A recent campaign from Australian Marriage Equality highlighted the fact that 62% of Australians are now in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Gillard has made it clear that she will not change the Commonwealth Marriage Act, writing in The Age two weeks ago, although she will allow her party’s MPs a conscience vote on the issue when the party meets for its national conference this weekend. Despite the polling numbers, Gillard claims that the Australian people are still not ready for marriage equality:

As I have said many times, I support maintaining the Marriage Act in its current form, and the government will not move legislation to change it. My position flows from my strong conviction that the institution of marriage has come to have a particular meaning and standing in our culture and nation and that should continue unchanged. The Labor Party platform currently reflects this view.

Which is why it’s important, if you’re Australian and you are ready for marriage equality, that you sign the petition. The numbers are on our side and the conference is fast approaching. So blow your nose, put down the Kleenex, and sign it!

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/acsu/ Aiden

    Fleh. The message of “Don’t worry, gays are attractive, white, rich, able-bodied, wealthy, and participate in consumerist culture, just like you!” is so strong and is all too often the way people try to promote universal marriage.

    • http://feministing.com/members/leni/ Eleen

      I agree with Aiden. It also seems to be part of the thinking that gay people are only allowed rights if they are super normal and conform to the most rigid of straight ideals. Gay culture IS and CAN BE different in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sarahbee/ Sarah

    Kleenex is right! My wonderful beau posted this to his facebook yesterday and it has made me cry every time! Wish I were Australian so I could sign the petition.

  • http://feministing.com/members/garconniere/ julia

    i have to agree with aideen and eleen – it’s well produced, edited, and has a clear message… but it’s not necessarily a tug-on-your-heartstrings message.

    as a queer woman, i don’t want to have to persuade straight folks that being queer is okay, is something they should tolerate – i don’t want to make them think i am the same as them, for the sole reason that i am not. while i know many gay folks who say they “just want to be treated the same” as straight folks, i know far more who reject straight culture, reject the idea that you have to be married to have legal. i fear the wonderful diversity and differences the gay/queer community offers will be glossed over in favour of getting a very limited group of people to “accept” certain kinds of gay people.

    call me debbie downer, but this ad is just a new glossy way of repackaging homonormativitiy and worse, selling it to a straight audience. “marriage discrimination” isn’t a thing. homophobia, transphobia, heteronormativity are.

    • http://feministing.com/members/jessicalee/ Jessica

      You took the words right out of my mouth! It’s a nice ad and all… the whole SURPRISE IT’S GAYS thing is clever. But the message is always “We’re okay because we’re just like you! (and we’re only okay to the extent that we’re like you)” when in fact, that doesn’t ring true for a lot of us. My friends and I aren’t particularly like straight people, and yet we’re okay, and we deserve equal treatment regardless of how similar or different we are. I love the diversity! We’re all so awesome and sexy that way! Why can’t that be our gay rights message?

      And riding rollercoasters together is not the only way to love. Queer relationships (or any relationships) don’t have to follow the classic straight relationship script to be okay, or acceptable, or to be meaningful and wonderful and deserving of respect.

      Ultimately this is still about “traditional marriage values”… Like I said it’s a nice ad, and do I hope it makes an impact on the marriage equality issue in Australia, but we need a better message.

      • http://feministing.com/members/cliff/ cliff arroyo

        “in fact, that doesn’t ring true for a lot of us”

        But as far as I can tell it’s not about all gay people, just a subset. And it’s a two-minute ad not a comprehensive documentary.

        “My friends and I aren’t particularly like straight people”

        Apart from the obvious …. how? And how are you going to package that in two minutes in a way that won’t alienate the people you need to win over?

        I guess you could go this route

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiCTUbwWfCY

        but I wouldn’t count on winning any popularity contests (or political victories).

        • http://feministing.com/members/jessicalee/ Jessica

          I am kind of partial to that route… I’d probably aim lower :P

          What I was saying doesn’t ring true for a lot of us is the gay rights message in general which is always that “we deserve equal rights because we’re the same as people who have them” – rather than that we deserve equal rights regardless of whether we’re the same or different.

          Everyone assumes that we need that message, of homogenized gays, to win our “political victories”, but I question that presumption. The message that all human beings deserve equal rights regardless of our differences is a much stronger, simpler, and more noble message, in my opinion.

          And yeah… I don’t keep a checklist of my similarities or differences vis-a-vis non-queer people, I don’t actually know any. Point being that I don’t feel any particular similarities or kinship with the way straight people live their lives or love their loves, and I feel that’s okay, that it’s okay to be different.

          I think we should alienate people who are that squeamish anyway. Visibility leads to tolerance, it’s healthier to show people who and what we really are, and make the argument that all people still deserve equal rights – rather than sweep the weirdos under the rug and pretend to be people they’d like to have over for dinner (their loss though, I can open a bottle of champagne with a sword!) – even if it results in temporary political setbacks.

          If the only gay people anyone will accept are young middle-class clean-cut white men, then I don’t think that does us a lot of good.

      • http://feministing.com/members/garconniere/ julia

        i’m glad to hear i’m not along in feeling this way!

  • http://feministing.com/members/cliff/ cliff arroyo

    Well the ad seems to be about those gay people who want a more or less conventional life (except for the sex of their partner).

    There are a lot of gay people that want nothing more than to be able to have a boring conventional middle class same sex marriage. Is there anything really wrong with that?

    Those who don’t want that will certainly not be forced to participate.

    Why the negativity?

    • http://feministing.com/members/garconniere/ julia

      my negativity is mostly in response to the “OMG THIS IS SO SWEET GET THE KLEENEXES OUT” way it’s being shared on facebook, and how it is presented here. like you said, it may be representative of SOME gay people, but not all queer folks. that’s alright. but don’t present it to me like it deserves the nobel peace prize for pro-gay marriage viral video.

      • http://feministing.com/members/jessicalee/ Jessica

        Exactly! It’s not that this is a bad message, but the whole presentation kind of requires a little reality check from “the rest of us”.

        (Also, Julia since we clearly think alike, I’m totally checking out your blog. Fashion, Louise Brooks, and the We’re a Culture Not a Costume issue all in your most recent posts? Yes, we clearly think alike!)

  • http://feministing.com/members/csusmstudent/ Michaella

    This was a very moving and inspirational video. It was a brilliant idea of whoever filmed the video this way, as not to show the person behind the camera. Had I seen this video without being informed prior to watching it that the person holding the camera was also a male, I would have assumed that it was a woman holding it. These heterosexual assumptions have been so engraved in our minds that it is a struggle to think outside of this realm. By spreading awareness through blog posts such as yours, we are moving closer to the goal of ending marriage discrimination! I write for a blog that promotes social justice, just as you. Check us out at http://www.wtfcsusm.wordpress.com!
    -Michaella