marriage equality

A year on from the result of Australia’s marriage equality postal survey, Rachel Evans takes a look at the grassroots campaign that made this historic victory possible, and some of the remaining challenges ahead for the LGBTI community.

Sydney celebrates the result of the postal survey for marriage equality: 62% of participants voted yes, from a turnout of 13 million voters, nearly 80%.

I believe we’re going to win this postal survey and, probably after some period of delay from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, we will win marriage equality too.

And when we do, Turnbull is going to want us to remember him as the prime minister who gave us marriage equality.

So let’s put something on the record: This community was never given anything by Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition.

The first LGBTQI rights march in Parramatta since 1983 was held on October 29.

It attracted more than 200 people to Centennial Square outside the Parramatta Town Hall before marching to the annual Parramatta Pride Picnic on the River Foreshore.

Martin Rorke gave this speech at a speakout for marriage equality at Sydney University on October 11.

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I am a member of staff here at the University of Sydney and I support same sex marriage. I am also a member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and I'm proud that my union is fully behind the Yes campaign. 

In the lead up to and following the announcement of the plebiscite, now survey, on changing the Marriage Act, unions have played a prominent role in promoting and resourcing the Yes campaign.

Senior union officials have been speakers at rallies, there have been large union contingents at protest marches and unions — especially peak bodies such as Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions — have been providing infrastructure to help build the capacity for the campaign to ensure maximum participation and support for the Yes side.

Since the High Court challenge to the federal government’s marriage equality survey was dismissed and the survey received the green light, streets have been painted all the colours of the rainbow as historically large protests and displays of solidarity sweep the country.

The campaign for marriage equality has been fighting the delaying tactics and homophobic policies of Labor and Liberal governments for the past 13 years.

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.

About 800 people marched through the streets of Fremantle on September 9 in a colourful demonstration urging a Yes vote in the equal marriage rights national survey. The pavements were left covered with love hearts and messages supporting the Yes campaign.

The march followed a rally in Fremantle’s Pioneer Park, which was welcomed to country by Aunty Corina Abraham. She compared the refusal of marriage rights to LGBTI people to the refusal of marriage rights to Aboriginal people under the control of the 1905 Aborigines Act.

A diverse and inspiring grassroots movement has completely shifted public opinion on this question, so let's push on to win this vote and more

Sam Wainwright, Councillor at the City of Fremantle, a local government that supports marriage equality

Equality is a very simple and important right. That's why a majority of people support equal marriage rights. The equal marriage campaign has opened the door to many more people supporting the LGBTIQ community on other issues as well

Sue Bolton, Councillor at Moreland City Council

Bronte Scott is an activist with Resistance and Socialist Alliance. She gave this speech to the Marriage Equality Now! rally held in Wollongong on August 27.

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Thank you to Bree Parkes for inviting me to speak at this rally. My name's Bronte and I joined Socialist Alliance because it is committed to making marriage equality a reality. We have been active in the marriage equality campaign in Sydney since John Howard changed the Marriage Act in 2004 to exclude same sex couples. We believe marriage equality is a civil right. 

Despite widespread community opposition and the Senate's repeated rejection of a plebiscite the Malcolm Turnbull government is persisting with a non-binding postal survey on the question of removing the current definition of marriage from the Marriage Act and replacing it with an unspecified definition that will provide for marriage equality in some unspecified form.

Warrnambool City councillors unanimously voted to support marriage equality on July 3. Councillor David Owen, who instigated the motion, said backing marriage equality would be a “symbolic act, in support of a very important social justice issue” and align it with 48 other councils in Australia.

As the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to legislate for marriage equality, councils are increasingly being called on to take a lead.

On April 26, former mayor Councillor Rose Hodge moved a motion that the Surf Coast Shire Council fly the Pride flag continuously from May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia) until the federal government passed a law in support of marriage equality.

WA councils support marriage equality

The Western Australian city councils of Bayswater and Fremantle passed motions of support for marriage equality on April 26. Both motions instruct the councils to write to the Prime Minister and all federal MPs, calling on them to make marriage equality a reality.

The motion passed in Bayswater "calls on the council to acknowledge … that many residents are disadvantaged by the current laws and that marriage equality laws have been passed in 22 countries around the world".

Just as in the 21 countries where marriage equality has been won, we will have to win this democratic right on the streets here too. This is the resounding conclusion supporters of equality must draw if we are to push back an emerging tide of conservatism unleashed by this latest round of major party politicking over the plebiscite.

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