I urge you to support a free vote on marriage equality, and to vote in favour.
I write to you today as one of your constituents. I was born and grew up in Melbourne and have lived my whole life in a wonderfully open and forward thinking community. I am currently in a same sex relationship and have never been on the receiving end of any discrimination, homophobia, or negative comments from anyone in regards to my sexuality. In fact, really the only form of discrimination I have faced to date, is from my own government.
I am turning 30 this year, and have attended and been involved in a number of weddings of close friends in the last few years. I became qualified as a celebrant in 2013, and have performed civil marriage ceremonies for lots of couples; though I am yet to perform a same sex commitment ceremony. Although I have now performed a number of ceremonies, and now know it off by heart, I still feel a little bit sick in my stomach every time I have to recite the monitum which includes the words ‘between a man and a woman’. The number of people I have had conversations with at weddings who are horrified or embarrassed and squirm in their seats when these words are spoken is astounding. All of the couples I have performed weddings for have wished to add some kind of personal statement into their ceremony stating they do not personally believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
My partner is Irish and we have discussed the fact that we will not get married or have a commitment ceremony until marriage equality is legal in both our countries. Never did I imagine that stereotypically conservative Ireland with such a catholic history would get there before us. Well done Ireland.
Research suggests that more than 70% of Australians support equal marriage rights. This percentage of our population are not asking for LGBTIQ people to receive any special treatment or consideration. They are only supporting what is right, and asking that discriminatory wording be removed from our legislation. It is in fact illegal in Australia to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and yet that is exactly what our own government is doing.
A free vote will allow all federal representatives to represent their electorates rather than be bound by party policy. This is in line with the Coalition principle of individual freedom. It is also consistent with Coalition policy of allowing a free vote on issues related to marriage and sexuality.
Marriage is a celebration that joins people together and denying same-sex couples this opportunity limits us as a society. Equal Marriage is the only truly fair way. It will create a climate where the bonds of love and commitment are recognised equally and celebrated widely.
The ability to make equal commitments is fair and just. Discrimination is not.
I urge you to do what is right, and what the Australian people want, by supporting a free vote on marriage equality, and voting for marriage equality.