The shrinking minority still opposed to Marriage Equality often use polyamorous relationships as a weapon against supporting same-sex marriage. You know the argument, the "slippery slope" that will eventually see the state acknowledging relationships between more than two people.
Terrifying stuff, apparently.
Before I dive into why this concept should in fact terrify no body at all, it's important for clarity that I restate my previously outlined position on marriage equality in relation to same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is something I fully support on the basis of fairness, equality, and most importantly the positive message it sends to young gay people.
I've always valued friendship. Growing up, I've crossed paths with some amazing people, and having chosen to live most of my adult life as a single person, I have wherever possible, made friendship a priority in my life.
As I grow older, I'm becoming more aware of how significant these friendships have become. How they form the foundation of my life. How much happiness they bring me. How they've shaped me into the person I am today, and how they will mould me into the person I become tomorrow.
It's sad to me that, in the eyes of many, friendships are considered a second-tier relationship. Less than family. Less than a marriage. Less than a monogamous sexual relationship. It's totally wrong. If a person is valuable to you, integral to your happiness, is good for you and brings you joy, it should make no difference to anybody whether you share blood, a bed, or a marriage certificate.
I love my 1987 E30 BMW. It's one of my favourite "things". I bought it with no intention of selling it. Ever. I've spent thousands maintaining it. Hours days cleaning it. It brings me so much happiness. But it's up for sale.
Because I want this year to be different from last year. I don't want the same routines and the same experiences. I want new adventures and new things to love. Sometimes you need to get rid of the old, to make way for the new.
I was never particularly close to my grandmother. As a kid, she always lived so far away, and when she finally moved up to Auckland, I never made time to spend time with her, just the two of us.
When she had a heart attack some eight weeks ago, all that changed. My parents were overseas, deep in South America. My sister, and all other immediate family, were living in Australia. It left just me.
I visited Grandma every day in hospital. I discovered a woman I'd never met before. She was strong, brave, unafraid, and totally unwilling to make a fuss. Turns out, I had so much to learn from her.
The message we send to young gay New Zealanders, plus their friends and family, needs to be front and centre of the imminent debate for marriage equality.
Anxiety, fear, embarrassment, shame, guilt, rejection, pain and suffering are familiar emotions for the vast majority of young gay men and women growing up in New Zealand. The selfish, ignorant beliefs of a shrinking minority are robbing our young people, who have their whole lives ahead of them, from the love and acceptance most New Zealanders take for granted.
When following the debate, forget about the act of getting married. Forget about men and women walking down the aisle. Forget about the preservation of an institution. Forget about whether the fundamental legal rights are already taken care of by civil unions. Focus instead on the underlying message we'll send to young people if we continue to treat same-sex attraction as a lesser form of love, different and separate from the love enjoyed by the balance of society. Look around you and you'll see that our current beliefs are causing unhappiness for many, and in extreme cases they're costing lives.
In the last couple of weeks two of my closest friends have both independently of each other made huge life-changing decisions. Instead of coasting along in one direction, they're both heading somewhere completely new. They've made decisions that will matter 10 years from now. The kind of decisions that attract attention and where you can't hide from the outcome.
And it's got me thinking. Our goal in life should be nothing more than finding the courage to follow our hearts and create the life of our dreams.
It looks so simple on the screen. Follow our hearts. Create the life of our dreams. But how many of us really do it? I'm not talking about doing things you'd kinda like to do or merely acting on a preference. I'm talking about big dreams and big decisions that are uniquely you and ensure you end life with a smile on your face and no regrets.
I've been thinking recently about choices and how they affect happiness. Choices require decisions, and decisions require effort and come at a cost. In the 21st century we have choices unlike any preceding generation. We demand choices in every aspect of our lives, and I'm starting to wonder whether it makes us any happier. In fact, I wonder if it makes us happier at all.
It wasn't long ago that deciding what to watch on TV was a choice between TV1, TV2 and TV3. These days we can choose between 25+ Freeview channels, 80+ SkyTV channels and thousands and thousands of on-demand movies and TV shows via iTunes. Want to read a book? Forget your bookshelf or even a library, fire up your Kindle and choose from any book ever written. Want to buy a TV? Sure - what brand? What size? LCD or LED? Or how about Plasma? Want to buy a car? OK, what make? Model? What colour? How big do you want the engine? Manual or auto? Leather or half-leather? Red stiching or orange?
But of course it's not just the trivial things. We now have choice over what to study (and where), who to marry (and when), where to work (and for how long) and what religion to follow (if at all). We even have a choice over the shape of our bodies (plastic surgery) and how long we're going to live (medical insurance and medicines). It wasn't long ago that these decisions were effectively made for us. The choices were few, if at all.
I'm saddened by the news this week that Phillip Cottrell died of the injuries he sustained from an assault walking home from his regular shift as a journalist at Radio NZ in Wellington. While details of the attack remain sketchy, Police have revealed that Phillip was a quiet, unassuming man who died for the sake of a few dollars taken along with his wallet.
It was also revealed that he had a degenerative bone condition, or "brittle bones".
As someone who lives with the same condition (I don't know Phillip's exact diagnosis) I feel especially moved by this tragedy. Over the years I've experienced dozens of broken bones including arms, legs and vertebrae…mainly from simple falls that most people get up and walk away from.
We all know about deposits in a monetary sense, but deposits can be just about anything: a small favour for a friend, consistently arriving early to work, doing little things to show your partner you care, remembering your friend's birthday, answering a call for help from a colleague, always replying to email in a timely manner, checking in with family and friends who live outside your weekly routine, paying your bills on time, going out of your way to do small favours for customers, being punctual to appointments and so on and so forth.
The thing about small deposits is they add up to something big and you get to cash them in. Life is a lot easier for people who consistently make small deposits, and equally difficult for those who don't. Favours are more willingly given to friends who help friends. Employers are more flexible with time off for errands or illness when employees are punctual or have been generous with their own time. Colleagues are more likely to have your back in a tight situation if you've previously helped them in kind. Friends and partners can forgive tardiness or forgetfulness if you've been consistently thoughtful and made time in the past. Customers forgive screw ups if you have previously demonstrated attention to detail and good service.
Cut yourself some slack. Make small deposits.
The 40 Hour Famine has moved into the 21st century and delivered a master class on how to set goals and achieve them.
Door knocking for sponsors? Gone. Hand-written sponsorship booklets? Gone. Collecting your earnings? Yup, that's gone too.
Replacing all of that is your own personal web page that proudly displays exactly how much money you're aiming to raise. Friends and family can see your goal, and sharing the link via email, Facebook and Twitter makes getting the word out easier than ever. Payments are collected online and sponsors and would-be sponsors can track your progress in real time. Brilliant.