As people across Australia begin to receive their postal ballots, Diversity Council Australia is proudly supporting the YES campaign. For us, it's an issue of fairness and equality, and something that will truly cement inclusion for our LGBTQ family and friends.
As CEO of Diversity Council Australia, I am so proud of the work that our member organisations are doing to support the YES campaign and support their LGBTQ staff during this time.
As a citizen, a parent, an ally, and someone who leads an organisation committed to inclusion, here's why I am voting YES:
1. I believe that the right to marry under the law -- which is something I never even had to think about when I did it in 1995 -- should likewise be something my LGBTQ colleagues, friends and family shouldn't even have to think about. And whether those marriages succeed or fail, I will hold them in the same regard as the marriages of heterosexual couples that have succeeded or failed -- in other words, they're not my business.
2. This debate is not about the kids of same-sex couples. Those kids already exist and all available evidence says they are doing alright. The only thing this has to do with kids of same-sex parents is that they will have the security of knowing that their parents have the same recognition as other kids. And studies do suggest it could reduce bullying.
Indeed, if kids are what we are really worried about, let's consider the kids in existing married families who are subjected to domestic abuse and/or who witness violence. Let's not fool ourselves that just because you are straight and can have a baby, that you are going to be a great parent -- so can we just remove this argument from the debate at all?
3. Marriage equality has nothing to do with political correctness and it's not about freedom of speech. It's about all Australians being treated equally under the law -- and that includes being able to marry the person they love.
4. It is not about religious institutions being forced to marry a lesbian or gay couple against their beliefs. Civil marriage will continue to be different and distinct from religious marriage. It's already a separate section of the Marriage Act and this is not going to change.
5. Marriage has evolved over time. I don't recall a national postal plebiscite or a hoo-ha about religious freedoms when no-fault divorce was made legal in 1975.
6. Marriage equality will be good for business. Not having full equality hurts business. Workers who don't feel able or comfortable to be themselves at work don't perform at their best and this affects productivity.
7. Marriage equality won't make any difference to my marriage but a win for the 'no' vote will make me angry about the significant hurt that LGBTQ people will experience as a result. A loving, inclusive and equal society is something I want for my children.
8. And even though I would prefer we were voting for marriage equality rather than same-sex marriage, I believe that every individual, irrespective of their gender identity or their sexual orientation, has a right to be treated with dignity and respect under the law.
A lot of our LGBTQ friends and colleagues don't want to campaign because they don't want to deal with people who don't think they should have equal rights. For straight allies who care about this issue, there are so many awesome things we can do to be great allies to our LGBTQ family, friends and colleagues.
- Make phone calls to secure a YES victory. You can sign up to participate in an existing calling party event or host your own.
- Decorate your mailbox. Get out the glitter and rainbow stickers to show your support.
- Door-knock or letterbox drop your neighbours. Commit to talking to everyone on your street about supporting marriage equality.
- Put a filter or frame on your Facebook profile. Let your networks know you're voting YES.
- Update your email signature to show you are a supporter of marriage equality.
- Check in on your LGBTQ colleagues, friends and family to see if they're okay and what more you can do to support them during this period.
This is the time to be brave. To stand up for what is right, to face the critics and support those at risk.
If not now, then when? And if not you, then who?
Change happens when we all get involved. Every one of us. Yes, even you. I expect and have already had a few heated discussions with members of my family on this matter. But I'm not going to be silent and then get upset when the Yes campaign doesn't get up.
Don't be that person either.
Call your family and friends and talk to them about why you're supporting equality. Make phone calls or door knock for equality.
Because everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law.