My husband and I left Los Angeles and arrived back in Sydney in March of this year. With us was our English bulldog Poppy who we rescued from a shelter in Santa Ana and nearly three years of memories of living away from Sydney.
We were married in Carmel California in November last year because, quite frankly, we couldn't be bothered waiting in Australia for a bunch of ignorant old white men to tell us we could marry.
I remember saying to Liam when we left Australia to move to sunny California that one day when we came back things would be different. We wouldn't be treated as second class citizens for much longer. That we would have the same rights as our straight peers.
Three years on and we are still nowhere closer to equality.
The Safe Schools program (to US readers, the Safe Schools program was a school initiative to help LGBTQI+ youth come to terms with their sexuality and feel supported) has had it's funding pulled and will no longer be in production and marriage equality is still hanging in limbo.
The liberal government (our Republicans) have decided to do a plebiscite come February 2017. A national vote on whether the LGBT community of Australia should be treated the same as everyone else when it comes to marriage.
Most people need only ask the parents of their loved one whether they can marry their spouse. The people of Australia will have to ask 24 million strangers.
What makes this an ever more painful blow is the fact that in 2004, Prime Minister John Howard amended the marriage act to be specifically discriminatory by making it "one man and one woman" for no other reason than bigotry. This law was signed in all in the space of an afternoon. No plebiscite, no national campaigning as to why it should or shouldn't be. Just a quick edit of a piece of paper.
The thing that breaks my heart the most, is the incredibly damaging impact this plebiscite will have on the millions of LGBTQI+ youth of Australia. The government is literally creating a poll for peoples' rights to be voted on.
For every young LGBTQI+ person who takes their life because they feel unnatural or that they don't belong, their blood is on your hands Malcolm Turnbull.
To young LGBTQI+ Australians, I'm sorry that our government hasn't progressed with the rest of the Western World. I'm sorry that Malcolm Turnbull uses LGBTQI+ rights as a political chess piece and I'm sorry that after years of campaigning, this is still an issue.
A free vote is all it would take for parliament to get this through.
Perhaps our elected officials could do the job they were elected to do rather than using a tactic that hasn't been implemented in 100 years of uninterrupted representative democracy.
It's not a big ask.
Australia, for once, be on the right side of history.