Vermont-based ice cream purveyors Ben & Jerry’s are as well-known for their civic-mindedness as they are for their delicious treats — and now, Ben & Jerry’s Australia is advocating for marriage equality in a terrifically creative way. Getting two scoops of the same flavor is now banned at all of the company's Australian locations — a move which points out how absurd marriage inequality is. And that's not all they're doing, either; they’re also encouraging their customers to get in touch with their members of parliament before the next parliamentary session to let them know that it's long past time marriage equality became the law of the land in Australia.
“Imagine heading down to your local Scoop Shop to order your favorite two scoops of Cookie Dough in a waffle cone,” a post on the ice cream company’s Australian website announcing the protest reads. “But you find out you are not allowed — Ben & Jerry’s has banned two scoops of the same flavor. You’d be furious!” And probably also confused, I might add; what’s the logic here, you might ask yourself? Because it sure as heck doesn’t resemble any logic I know.
“But,” the post continues, “this doesn’t even begin to compare to how furious you would be if you were told you were not allowed to marry the person you love. So we are banning two scoops of the same flavor and encouraging our fans to contact their MPs to tell them that the time has come — make marriage equality legal!” Hear, hear!
Australia’s 1961 Marriage Act, which was amended in 2004 to incorporate the common law definition of marriage, currently does not recognize same-sex marriage. Furthermore, as Ben & Jerry’s points out, weddings that take place in other countries “must not be recognized as a marriage in Australia,” so getting married somewhere else and having that marriage be valid in Australia isn’t an option, either. In 2013, the Australian Capital Territory — a federal district located in the southeast of the continent (Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is located there) — did pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage; however, the High Court later ruled that because the laws were inconsistent with the Marriage Act, they were unconstitutional. They were subsequently thrown out, with the ruling stating that any changes to the Marriage Act needed to come through the Federal Government.
With 70 percent of Australians supporting same-sex marriage, it’s high time that marriage equality be legalized across the continent. Ben & Jerry’s is hoping to further the cause with their protest — although the whole no-two-scoops-allowed thing isn’t the only way they’re doing it: Ben & Jerry’s have also set up boxes in all 26 of their stores across Australia so customers can write their MPs a postcard telling them why they support marriage equality. The company will then make sure that the postcards get to where they’re going before June 13 which is the final parliamentary session — and before the budget is announced. “We see this as the next opportunity to achieve marriage equality, so we need to act NOW!”, the B&J Australia website reads. The company also provides links to the Equality Campaign’s website, where people can find different ways to get involved, make their voices heard, and become effective allies.
And that, I think, is the most important part of the protest: It’s also encouraging people to take action. Yes, banning two scoops of the same flavor on the same cone makes the point that banning same-sex marriage is ridiculous, but it doesn’t necessarily do anything — not in a direct or meaningful way. Pegging the statement to concrete actions people can take to fight the good fight, though? That’s meaningful. That makes it something that can make waves.
As Gay Star News points out, this is far from the first time Ben & Jerry’s has used their position and visibility to support marriage equality across the globe. In 2012, the company joined forces with an LGBTQ advocacy group in the UK to rename one flavor “Appily Ever After,” complete with a packaging redesign depicting two grooms; they support the Ehe Für Alle movement in Germany; and in 2015 in the United States, they first signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage, then temporarily renamed the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor “I Dough, I Dough” after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling determined the banning of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
Yes, the issue of marriage equality is weightier than an ice cream cone. But lots of smaller actions can add up to big change — the kind of change we need more of in the world.