Marriage equality – part two

29/02/2024 0 Comments

Welcome back to Caring About Sex and Disability, dear reader! 

Welcome back, dear Reader! Last time we explored how the Disability Support Pension is inextricably tied to marriage rights in Australia. We learned that even if your paramour got down on bended knee at Taylor Swift’s Aussie Eras tour to ask you to take the next step in your relationship, if you’re on benefits you’d likely have to decline their offer or risk losing your financial benefits. What a fucking bummer!

Unfortunately, it isn’t only Aussies that deal with this. Benefit systems from Canada to the UK and the United States all have benefit systems that are tied to marriage or income. It kinda puts a stop to the fantasy of moving somewhere else and falling in love there, doesn’t it. All of these rules and regulations tied to benefit systems and marriage worldwide send a message to disabled people – if you are disabled and need the Government’s help, you better be totally alone, and you better prove it, too. Yeah, there’s no way around just how unfair that is.

Writing a piece like this is tough because I don’t wanna get too down in the dumps about it – I want us to look at solutions. What can we do as a community of disabled people and their allies to put an end to these policies, that often feel like they were written in 1824 and not 2024, am I right?

1. Write to Your Local Leaders

When I highlight marriage inequality for disabled people, there is always one or two people on my socials who will comment, “I didn’t even think that was a thing”. So, I’m willing to bet there is an MP, Congressperson or someone out there with authority who will probably also come to the same conclusion, and realise they never knew that too. So, you can write them letters highlighting your thoughts on the issue, and asking them to bring it up whenever and wherever they can. This way, people learn about this, but it doesn’t constantly fall on the disabled folks to do the educating!

2. Organise a Peaceful Protest

A great way that you can get the word out about this in Aus or around the world is to hold a peaceful protest. Gather a group of friends and supporters; make posters, blast the wedding march as you wheel down to a park, shop or meeting spot, and talk about it. Ask your disabled friends to speak on the impact this has on them and their futures. Make it public so that people can learn about the issue and raise their voices too.

3. Amplify Hashtags

If all of that feels a little too overwhelming for you to accomplish, you can take up the fight behind your phone or computer screen. Disability justice advocates who are passionate about this issue have created some really useful hashtags to help shed light on the issue such as #LoveTax #EndTheLoveTax #MarriageEquality #FreedomToMarry. You can even create your own… maybe something like, #DisabledPeopleDeserveToMarry. You can play around with different ones to help drive the conversation home.

4. Tell Your Story on TikTok

TikTok can be used for more than just viral dance challenges and dating stories gone wild. We can also use these platforms to create change and make that go viral, too. Share a TikTok about what getting married would mean to you if you could, and also remind people that they too will become disabled and if they also need benefits when that happens, they might lose them too. Pull at people’s heartstrings a bit, and show them that we should all be fighting for these policies to be repealed.

5. Call The News

Now, usually when I see a news team covering a story about disability, I start to cringe pretty hard. I’m always waiting for them to do or say something ableist… but the news team covering a story like this is something that I can easily get behind. Give them a call and see if they wouldn’t mind spreading the word for you.

Okay friends! These are just a few ideas that I had, and I hope they help you see that even though marriage tied to benefits systems is indeed a widespread issue, there are things you can do right from the comfort of your wheelchair, walker or Rehab office (wink) to stoke the flames… and who knows, maybe the next time Taylor goes down under she’ll marry a disabled couple on stage…. Sigh, I can dream, right?

Andrew Gurza

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