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We Are Closer Than Ever Before To Achieving Marriage Equality

As the dust settles on the plebiscite being voted down, we must not pause or stop.

08/11/2016 10:39 AM AEDT | Updated 08/11/2016 10:39 AM AEDT
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The plebiscite was a policy that no one will miss, yet wasting time dancing on its grave will not achieve marriage equality. All those people across Australia who remain impacted by a lack of marriage equality -- loving couples, their families, their friends, their workmates -- need us to more than ever to keep up the momentum needed to achieve this reform.

The past year has been an exhausting and stressful one for LGBTI people. The prospect of a national public vote on our equality as citizens has been a profoundly confronting experience.

But, as we have done before in history when confronted with a challenge, the LGBTI community and allies, organised, spoke out and united. Now that clear air exists, we should look back on what has been gained.

For the first time the LGBTI community had a look at what a large-scale, professional national campaign would look like, with infrastructure built across the country in case a plebiscite was imposed on us. The threat of a plebiscite meant we needed to get more organised than ever before and it meant more people offered to help than ever before.

It's also important to acknowledge that plebiscite policy provided room for a number of coalition members to publicly declare support for marriage equality. These include WA Senator Linda Reynolds, Victorian National Damian Drum, and most significantly the federal Attorney-General George Brandis.

Labor's position on marriage equality also strengthened during this time. They went from being the party who allowed a free vote on reform to a party whose leader is dedicated to delivering marriage equality.

Now that the prospect of a plebiscite has been defeated, no one need be distracted by a debate by politicians on a public vote versus a parliamentary vote. The path ahead is clear and direct and remains what it has always been, a vote in parliament by our elected representatives.

We will continue to remind politicians what is at stake for those who are denied marriage equality. Australians of all ages, from many backgrounds and from parts of the country, desperately want to see their relationships recognised and share their joy with their loved ones. While there is already majority support for marriage equality among the community and in parliament, we will work hard to grow this even further.

When the threat of an unwanted plebiscite loomed, we prepared to win. From supporting local campaigns from one side of the continent to the other, to uniting nearly 90 LGBTI organisations, and learning from the international experience we harnessed the incredible drive and determination that exists across the country.

Now there is an unparalleled level of organisation, infrastructure and energy in place to win a parliamentary vote. If we can channel the loud and determined opposition to the plebiscite into passionate advocacy for marriage equality, we will have a winning combination.

As the dust settles on the plebiscite being voted down, we must not pause or stop. We are closer than ever before to achieving marriage equality. We must move forward and focus on the diverse support that exists for this reform across the community. Let's remember the people who this matters to so deeply. Let's use the energy and momentum that has opened hearts and minds on this reform and ensure that we get this done.

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