Say Yes Geelong held a local Equality Walk on September 9 to promote the Yes campaign for marriage equality. The crowd of almost 1000 people, who gathered in the centre of Geelong, was very diverse and included a number of families with young children, teachers, religious ministers, unionists, students, local council candidates, local MPs and more.
Speakers included Beth McNiven, a member of Geelong Rainbow Inc, who spoke about feelings of isolation living in a smaller town and the support she has found since moving back to Geelong.
Grace McCann, one of the young organisers who has been part of establishing Say Yes Geelong, told the crowd: “Now comes a time when young people need to stand up for what is right and just. I know it is getting really hard having our worth continuously debated, but it’s our time to make our voices heard.”
Surf Coast couple, Aden Hemmerling and Jonathan Condron, spoke about their experiences growing up in smaller towns and some of the difficulties in facing that isolation, as well as coming out to their family.
Adele Welsh spoke on behalf of Geelong Trades Hall with the simple yet clear message that equality is union business. Welsh said: “Equality is our fight because the union movement stands up for all working people. Geelong Trades Hall and the 30 unions we represent are in this fight with you, and we will be still on your side in this fight for equality until we win.”
Say Yes Geelong was formed and supported by Geelong Rainbow Inc, Geelong for Marriage Equality, Geelong Trades Hall, as well as local residents across the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast region.
The group has several activities planned over the next few months, including poster blitzes, holding up signs on highways and an equality dance flashmob, as well as another public meeting.
What has become clear so far, is the overwhelming support for equality from local residents and small businesses all across the region, which continues to broaden and grow the local campaign.