I am a mother of a gay son and I am writing to you on behalf of the whole family, along with the extended family, to request that you STOP this plebiscite – it is not worthy of you, your values or your principles, as we all heard espoused so often on progressive matters prior to you taking over as Prime Minister. And it thrilled one and all.
I cannot say I understand why you have lost your voice and your credibility with those who were backing you. After all, notwithstanding all our votes (I mean this personally, and so many who wanted you to succeed) you won with a margin of one. Now, this has relevance to my request, and why I have taken the trouble to write to you.
My gay son is nearly 30. He has a very strong sense of self and lives with emotional intelligence and dignity. I have written many times to the Liberal party, explaining my position: that I and the family would vote for the party that affords the same rights to my heterosexual daughter, as to my son. You might think this is a strange way of putting it, but deliberate on my part, as I believe in equal rights for all, not more for my daughter.
So, I have been up close and personal to the gay community, and whilst my son has turned out just fine, it does not mean he has not been aware of heterosexual hatred. In fact, he was attacked many years ago by four men with knives -- and luckily and to his credit, my son knew when to fight and when to run. And, run he did, very fast.
So this occurred without the high heat which would be provoked during the plebiscite. He went to a Jewish school and was accused by the kids of being gay (in all kinds of terminology) before he knew he was gay. So when you say, so often, that you have "more confidence in the Australian People" than Labor does, you have obviously not really lived these experiences. When one listens to the right wing of your party, it gives one no confidence at all.
I recently met two gay men, who are Australian, and left to get married in New Zealand, and then returned. They have adopted a son, Codie. He is the most well-mannered little boy I have ever met, and he goes to a school in Albert Park. These two fathers have been together for 28 years, and the love, respect and commitment they all had to each was deeply moving. I was proud to know them. I would have been proud if either of the fathers were my son, and Codie my grandson. However, this one meeting has caused me to ask myself: What will Codie endure at school? What will the parents endure at the school? What will shift and change, and what will they need to negotiate?
My son is fine. He couldn't be prouder of who he is, and we, as a family, couldn't be more proud of him. We are all close as can be, so I am not concerned about him. But the plebiscite is an expression of inequality, as it is not required for the Constitution as it was in Ireland. However, not every gay child has come from a family such as ours, where love is sacred, love unconditional, and where total acceptance is a given and can be counted on. This is where the problem is.
There will be many already challenged young gay people struggling, and this struggle will be public for the parents (should they know the status of their children), making the whole situation a nightmare for all, and less supportive for the young child/adolescent, the outcome less supportive, their future less secure. And many parents think that having a gay child is a nightmare they do not wish to endure.
My cousin, Leslie, is gay, older than me. She lost her family when she told them she was gay and introduced them to the woman she loves. Leslie came to stay with us. My mother was ahead of her time and it was natural to accept Leslie and her girlfriend, as it should have been. Again I emphasise, you cannot presume to know the damage that occurs in these delicate situations, and that is without an inflammatory process that stokes the fires for all.
I would like to end with the extraordinary position that the Catholic and other churches take on this matter. They were and still remain very quiet about the sexual abuse of children under their care -– ruining young boys' lives forever, yet they are allowed to have a voice, and a very loud one at that, on this matter. I find this astonishing. On this point alone, to exclude them, there should be a vote in parliament, and leave the churches out of it.
I ask you to urgently reconsider this matter. Bill Shorten is gaining ground on this issue, as he should be, and there is no one I know who thinks he is wrong. I beg you, in the name of all children, and you don't know how fragile kids in this situation can be.
We certainly do not know how gay-friendly families are or are not, and we cannot count on a civil conversation. This is not democracy. It is a violation of democracy, as you are treating one group different from another. This was never your idea, but Tony Abbott's. This is not a decision you would have made.
Get back to leading the country on progressive issues, and bring values and principles back to the forefront of leadership, as you have previously.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, and I would appreciate your deep consideration.Suggest a correction