Well, it looks like it’s going to happen and we are going to have ‘postal survey’ on the issue of marriage equality. Despite the concerns about the impact on many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community, the non-binding nature of the vote, the cost and the myriad of technical and constitutional problems with this proposal, the Federal Government is pushing ahead to ‘let all Australians have their say’ on the issue of marriage equality.
This means that we now all get to have a say on whether or not we think we should continue to exclude a group in our community from one of the core social institutions that continues to provide meaning to our private lives, as well as affording and strengthening legal status and rights for all couples and families.
As we prepare for the postal survey, many of us are bracing for a campaign that we know will be damaging, and working through how we best support our friends, neighbours and families through a process where there will be many arguments made that are designed to hurt, offend and devalue who some people are and who they love.
This feels particularly galling in the ACT given we are a community that tried to settle the issue in the way it was meant to (through political debate and legislation) only to be thwarted by legal challenges and an inability for our community to settle the issue through the standard democratic process.
Given the issues, it is understanding that some have suggested boycotting the vote. Despite all the problems, however, there are some opportunities that this situation gives us. Most importantly, this is our chance to stand as a community and demonstrate our strong support for equality, love and kindness to the rest of the country. It’s our opportunity to stand in solidarity with all members of our community and say that we choose love over hate, that we choose inclusion and acceptance over discrimination, and we value families – in all their diversity.
We can only send this message if we do mobilise and support the yes campaign. We all need to make sure we are enrolled to vote, and actually vote. This is a vote that is voluntary and it’s vital that apathy and despair at the political process doesn’t scuttle this important reform.
The ACT has a history of being much more progressive than the rest of the country when it comes to referendums and plebiscites (since we have been able to vote in them – only since 1977). We were the only jurisdiction to have a majority vote in favour of the Republic in 1999, was the only place to support the enshrining of ‘one vote one value’ that was put to referendum in 1988. We even went our own way in relation to the 1977 plebiscite regarding our national song, supported Waltzing Matilda over Advance Australia Fair.
Even though I don’t agree we should be having this postal survey on marriage equality, I still think it’s important to participate in and hope that citizens in the ACT vote. What do you think?
If you or someone, within the LGBTIQ communities or allies, friends, and family, needs additional support there is help available through the AIDS Action Council counselling service – available to all the community – on 6257 2855 or through Qlife which is operational between 3pm until midnight, 7 days a week – qlife.org.au