UTS student completing a Masters in Advanced Journalism. Areas of interest include style, subculture, education and community action.
With the last of the forms for the same sex marriage postal survey expected to be sent out this week, supporters from diverse political, religious and social backgrounds are forming unlikely alliances.
Some members of the Liberal and National party are openly showing their support for marriage equality, signing a letter to make the conservative case for equality.
“As Australians who are committed to liberal and conservative values, we know marriage is an institution which builds stability, commitment and mutual responsibility,” the open letter said.
“All Australians should have the opportunity to show their commitment to the person they love through marriage.”
Trent Zimmerman, Liberal member for North Sydney, was the first openly gay member of the Federal House of Representatives. He has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality since he first came to parliament in December, 2015.
In a letter sent out to the constituents of North Sydney, Mr Zimmerman said, “A successful yes vote would be a proud day for our country.”
Despite his support of marriage equality, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come under fire from marriage equality advocates for failing to promise that a “yes” vote would be binding. He also made it clear that a “no” vote would be binding for at least two terms.
Earlier this month, a diverse group of over 30,000 protesters gathered at Town Hall in Sydney, in what was the country’s biggest marriage equality rally. The rally more than doubled the previous record breaking march in Melbourne.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten addressed the crowds at the rally to make the Labor party’s case for “yes”.
“We’ve got one last mountain to climb before we make marriage equality, let’s climb it together,” he said.
When questioned about whether he could be certain that all Labor members of parliament would vote “yes” if the issue was put to a vote, Mr. Shorten responded he could be sure a majority would.
“I am reasonably sure that 97% at least of Labor party politicians will be voting yes.”
This came on the same day Mr Turnbull launched the Liberals and Nationals “yes” campaign.
“I’m voting yes because fundamentally this is a question of fairness,” he said in a press conference at the launch.
“This isn’t a cause which divides along party political lines as much as some others might suggest.”
Mr Shorten agrees that the issue of marriage equality shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
“Today is not a matter for party politics,” he told the rally, “there’s a rainbow coalition of politics here.”
But for most of the attendees at the rally, and members of the “yes” campaign, marriage equality is an issue beyond politics.
For stay at home mum, Naida Entwistle it was an issue of ensuring legal protection for her family. She got married to her wife of four years in New York, where same sex marriage is legal, but her family and friends were not able to attend the wedding.
“We’d love to be able to have the legitimacy and to share that moment with our friends and family. It’s important for our kids to see there’s dignity to being in a same-sex family.”
She said that it was extremely difficult as a mother seeing “no” campaigners using child protection as reasoning. She is concerned about how these arguments will impact her children.
“We’re adults, we can protect ourselves. But we spoke to the principal of our school, we’re the only same-sex family there, to make sure that he has our back.”
Melody Gardiner of Australian Catholics for Equality would also like for her relationship of ten years to be recognised under the law.
“We’re both from Catholic families and we’d love to have all our friends and family together to celebrate it. We’ll have a religious service,” Ms. Gardiner said.
It wasn’t just Sydneysiders at the rally. Dr Zohl de Ishtar travelled all the way from Balgo, a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia where she works, to show her support.
“I travelled for three days and three planes… I don’t know how many thousands of kilometres,” she said.
“I did it because there’s no protest going on in my community.”
She doesn’t believe there is enough support out there for Aboriginal people who are LGBT+, but says the large number of attendees at last week’s rally makes her optimistic.
Mr Shorten said that, while he gives credit to the prime minister for coming out vocally supporting marriage equality, he gives most credit to LGBT+ Australians and supporters.
“If we win this survey it won’t be because of a particular politician or politicians. It’ll be because Australia has said it’s time to make marriage equality a reality.”
Last week’s rally wasn’t the last one to be held, with supporters from across the political spectrum gearing up for another rally in Sydney at the end of October.
Organisers have arranged for a venue to accommodate bigger crowds than last time in hopes that support will continue to grow.
All postal survey forms should be sent out by this week.