Tonight many of us across Australia are waiting in anticipation while our Coalition government debates whether or not they will allow a free vote in the party room regarding Marriage Equality. At this stage they have been debating the topic for the past 5 hours and we can but speculate what conversations are occurring.
While we wait there is something else that has been on my mind recently in the lead up to the return of parliament yesterday and I would like to share this with you.
What I have been thinking about is that the debate around Marriage Equality was going to heat up in the coming weeks and those parties which have strong opinions either way on this topic have been known to become volatile in their discussions. Including lobby groups who are known for using strong language and tactics about the perceived harm associated with marriage equality.
I would like those who are giving opinions either in the public sphere or between friends and family privately to be considerate of your words and their impact. This is such a passionate topic and I have no doubt that those who oppose marriage equality honestly feel very strongly about the concerns they have regarding the impact on society.
I have one small request and suggestion.
We do not currently have marriage equality; yet what we definitely do have and will continue to have regardless, are children with LGBTIQ parents; young people who struggle to come out as they identify as LGBTIQ and older members of society who have hidden their LGBTIQ identity for most of their lives. Then there are those of us who live openly as part of the LGBTIQ community.
We are all responsible for the messages that the vulnerable in our society hear, even more so if we are on the public record during such a period of high media attention. When you have an opinion on marriage equality I am asking you to consider this one thing; instead of speaking to your opposition and your base supporters, please place yourself in the position of speaking to members of the groups listed above. Speak to our children, speak to those of us who are afraid of coming out because we are concerned we will be rejected by our families and speak to those who hide our true identify our whole lives. Speak to those of us who have been physically and psychologically abused as a result of our LGBTIQ status. This is all I ask of you. Speak to the individuals, share your concerns with real people in the forefront of your mind.
Ultimately not only does the outcome of the current debate effect these people directly but the words spoken have a tangible impact on lives. I respect there are people who have significant concerns about marriage equality and I would like to discuss those concerns. I would like each and every one of you reading this to be part of breaking down the barriers, stopping the us and them debate and instead invest our time and energy in finding a mutual understanding of each other. That is how we all end up with a more connected society.