September 6, 2012
As a liberal rationalist Green, the Mayor of Burchett Hill, Councillor Les Rhiannon, does not believe in marriage. For some years he has cohabited with his "partner", Greek-born "multicultural activist" Drusilla Alitosis. But support within his party for "marriage equality" has caused Councillor Rhiannon, never one not to snatch a political initiative, to rethink his position, and he has declared that he is now in favour of marriage, on condition that it is not the "heteronormative" sort between a human male and female.
To demonstrate his commitment, at the Burchett Hill Town Hall on Saturday afternoon Councillor Rhiannon "married" the City Manager (formerly Town Clerk) of Burchett Hill, Mr Bruce Pollard, in a public ceremony in the council chamber. In order not to "privilege gender-specific concepts of marriage costume" Councillor Rhiannon wore a white veil of Guipure lace and his mayoral robes over smart casual male attire and Mr Pollard a top hat and bridal dress of cream silk shantung with bodice of broderie anglaise, satin shoes and a bouquet of stephanotis.
Ms Alitosis, whose prodigious facial hair qualifies her as of mixed gender, was not only in attendance but had earlier announced her own intention to marry Mrs Pollard, a union which she said would serve as a "multicultural bridge" in the community. It was thought wiser not to announce this in advance to Mrs Pollard, who is of conventional views and a leading member of the Presbyterian Women's Guild where she has twice in a row won the prize for the best hedgehog at the annual bazaar. Instead, the City Manager was instructed by the Mayor to quadruple Mrs Pollard's valium dose - living with Mr Pollard, an irascible accountant, has driven the unfortunate woman to seek solace in medication - and present her at the ceremony, which she underwent in a state of some euphoria, going so far as to join in a Greek dance with Ms Alitosis, demanded by the latter instead of a bridal waltz.
As an offficial mayoral function, the ceremony would normally have been conducted by the Mayor's chaplain, Imam Ibn al Choppa-hedoff Poofa of the Burchett Hill Mosque. But "gay marriage" is one of the few topics on which the Mayor and his chaplain do not see eye to eye, so the Mayor, in the manner of Napoleon crowning himself in Notre Dame, officiated as both celebrant and one of the two "brooms", the term devised by the council's marriage equality committee to avoid the gender-offensive "bride" and "groom".
Before the cutting of the cake (yam and wattleseed, a traditional recipe of the Tomandjeri people on whose land the Town Hall stands) the Mayor made a speech in which he said that "speaking for the first time as Councillor Rhiannon-Pollard and on behalf of my new spouse Mr Pollard-Rhiannon, I think we can say that a great blow has been struck today for the next step on the road to marital freedom, the recognition of polyamorist unions. The fact that four are involved in this marriage, in one way or another, should give hope to polyamorists everywhere that marriage reform will not stop at marriage equality for two. Why should those who have enough love in their hearts to spread around be unfairly penalised for the sake of bourgeois bigots who can't cope with the idea of more than two in a marital relationship?" Councillor Rhiannon-Pollard said Burchett Hill "as a community ought to be proud of its forward-looking trail-blazing in wrenching marriage out of its patriarchal rut." He said that he expected the federal Greens leadership to "move quickly to persuade the Prime Minister to make polyamorist marriage a plank of Government policy."
The Mayor also announced that henceforth "heterosexual one-on-one" weddings would be banned in all places licensed for marriage in the municipality of Burchett Hill and that this would be enforced if necessary by "adjustment" of rating valuations of offending premises, "including churches, that don't yet pay anything. They won't know what's hit them," he said.
Just as the happy couples moved to cut the cake, a flashing scimitar descended seemingly from nowhere, slicing it in two, and there was a bloodcurdling shriek of Allahu Akbar! The Sons of the Caliphate, an ethnic cultural group subsidised by the city council as part of its "Diversity in the Arts" programme, had somehow appeared in the council chamber, with behind them the aquiline, fierce-eyed features of Imam al Choppa-hedoff, calling down divine vengeance on the "sodomite pig-Jews and their unnatural ceremonies" and urging the Sons of the Caliphate to "separate the sinners from their sinning hands". With scimitars whipping the air to right and left ("this age-old skill demonstrates perfect harmony between weapon and wielder", as the "Diversity in the Arts" brochure puts it) wedding guests scurried for cover under the council table. Amid the screams, the saurian head of the Mayor poked out from behind a chair and then his arm appeared, holding high a white napkin. The Imam, who for all his high principles knows which side his bread is buttered on, leant down to hear what Councillor Rhiannon-Pollard had to say. Moments later, both Mayor and Iman were wreathed in smiles, as the former announced that some more marriages would be taking place that day. "I have given permission," he said, "for each of our friends the Sons of the Caliphate to marry twenty, er, virgins, who I am told arrived this morning in a container from Afghanistan. They have just retired to the ante-room to sort out who gets which" (the clang and clash of duelling scimitars could be heard), "and I shall have the pleasure of conducting the ceremony."
A screech of Mediterranean jealousy indicated that Ms Alitosis-Pollard was also in the ante-room, where she was grappling tooth and nail with a Son over a young lady to whom she herself was endeavouring to lay claim. Also present was the erstwhile Mrs Pollard, who had slipped her apricot grosgrain bolero jacket over her head like a veil and was making eyes at any of the Sons who would give her a second look.
Challenged later by Green party councillors over his "caving in" to a "blatantly heteronormative marriage demand", the Mayor announced loftily that "politics is the art of compromise" and that, anyhow, the Sons of the Caliphate marriages "ticked the more important boxes" of being multicultural and polyamorous.
Quadrant Online contributor Christopher Akehurst blogs at Argus
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
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