Marriage as a marker of secular inclusion? Oral history and lesbian and gay narratives on marriage in contemporary Australia

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Abstract

Same-sex marriage has been one of the most widely discussed social issues in contemporary Australia for some time. In late 2017, after holding a contentious national postal survey that year, the Australia government introduced legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. This article draws on a major national lesbian and gay oral history project conducted in partnership with the National Library of Australia between 2012 and 2015, when discussions of same-sex marriage were becoming increasingly widespread. It investigates the way interview subjects incorporated marriage into their narratives. In doing so, it highlights how understandings of marriage — both amongst lesbian and gay people and heterosexual people — have shifted and evolved over time. While some subjects saw marriage as a somewhat outdated, religious, and patriarchal concept, many others invested personal significance in the institution, arguing that allowing gay men and lesbians access to marriage would be a strong symbol of social progress and equality in a secular society. We conclude with one young interviewee who had managed to reconcile his faith with his sexuality and desire for marriage equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-284
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Religious History
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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