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Why do I want you to speak up? Will you?

For those of us who put significant energy into fighting what we consider to be the good fight and repeatedly attempting to raise awareness around LGBTI rights, discrimination, laws and hurt it often appears that our voices go unheard.  I often wonder why – is it perception or reality? If you don’t share your opinion where and when it matters I’d like to discuss why?

Why is it that the Religious right such as the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) can mobilize hundreds of thousands of Australians in an instant?  I know that many people of religious faith and those without a religious faith do not support the extremist views of the ACL, yet they can ensure a large and if required well funded campaign to block LGBTI rights easily.  How does this occur?  There are so many possibilities.

Fear of the unknown driving people to support discriminatory behaviour and legislation.

Effective campaigns not replicated by those in support of LGBTI and lack of visibility.

Money.

Conservative voters do not support Marriage Equality and many others don’t either so it comes down to votes.

Not a big issue, there are many more important issues the government of the day should be concerned with.

Someone else is doing that so I don’t need to.

 

While I am sure there are more reasons and excuses let’s just start with these.  Feel free to share your reasons.

Someone else is doing that so I don’t need to.

This could not be further from the truth.  People aren’t putting their voices out there in support of LGBTI rights.  Very few people are putting their voices forward – it is up to everyone to be heard. It is often said that until something becomes personal people will not act on it.  So is this personal to every person?  Indeed it is.  Whether you yourself are; part of the LGBTI community, have a family member or friend who is (remember you may or may not know but chances are you fall into this category) or you care about the social and psychological well being of your neighbours, workmates and people in general; it is personal.

A wonderful friend of mine Phil Browne, Activist of the Year 2014, has a consistent quote he uses to explain why we all need to speak up.  “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody”: Lily Tomlin

Not a big issue, there are many more important issues the government of the day should be concerned with.

I tend to agree with this statement and can’t count the number of times someone has said it to me.  There are bigger issues facing our society today – domestic violence, climate change, finance and so on.  The question I have though is, in the absence of the issue being a big one for many people, what is stopping it proceeding and the change being made swiftly and with bipartisan support?  It would actually free up our governments time to focus their attention on the more pressing items of today.

Conservative voters do not support Marriage Equality and many others don’t either so it comes down to votes.

This is the greatest myth of all – while I cannot make comment on conservative voters the evidence is in and clear about Australian voters.  The majority of Australians support Marriage Equality.  This information has been consistent and the percentages increasing for a number of years now.  Even the suggestion that fellow Australians in regional and rural areas do not support Marriage Equality is a myth.  Over 60% of those in the regional and rural areas support Marriage Equality and the percentage is around 10% higher Australia wide.  It is a vote losing issue?  Yes it is in some areas, however overall and representative of the Will of the Australian people the answer is firmly NO.

Money

I can only speculate that money talks.  Bankrolled campaigns, crowdfunding activities and strong financial support from those in opposition to Marriage Equality is effective.

Effective campaigns not replicated by those in support of LGBTI and lack of visibility.

The rationale behind this is puzzling.  What makes a campaign effective?  There are two main reasons.  It’s either personal or there is money supporting the campaign.  We’ve talk about the personal aspect and money aspect yet how do they impact on the difficulty in running effective campaigns?  The so called pink dollar is strong and it’s not unreasonable to speculate that there are just as many people who support LGBTI rights with money they could put behind these causes.  Many of the LGBTI youth however are financially struggling.  Be it through homelessness, unemployment and general financial habits and priorities being what they are in younger generations.  What about the older generations?  This is where I think we are in an endless loop – if it is not seen as important why would those who can not put their money behind these campaigns?  How many conversations have I had where people will say to me “I had no idea”.  No idea of the legal and personal discrimination in place today.  While much of what I write focuses on Australia just take for example the recent law changes in Indiana.  Seriously this state has endorsed the rights of companies to refuse to serve gay people.  We have a real risk of this occurring here in Australia unless every day Australians say no and make their voices heard.

Fear of the unknown driving people to support discriminatory behaviour and legislation.

We are in a time where our leaders often use fear as a weapon to support legislation which limits the rights of citizens.  Just consider Data Retention policy recently passed, extended Police powers in many states and Asylum Seeker policy.  When it comes to the Marriage Equality debate fear is often used as the mode of influence by those against it.  Most recently we had the television advertisement aired during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  “Won’t somebody please think about the Children”.  What does marriage have to do with children?  To be a little glib LGBTI people are having children in Australia without the right to marry – MARRIAGE ISN’T PART OF THAT and it will continue.  If we look at the heterosexual community, children are rarely considered in the many decisions about marriage.  These are two separate discussions and decisions for a couple.  For a heterosexual couple the right to enter freely into a Marriage Contract asks no questions about either existing children or future desire or capability to have children.  Even in some religions there may be discussion about raising children in a heterosexual marriage as a desire however the response to this does not influence the ability for the couple in question to enter into a legal marriage contract.

A small word about the ‘slippery slope’ argument – countries that have had marriage equality have not seen attempts for people to marry children, family members, animals or inanimate objects.  The first country to legislate Marriage Equality was the Netherlands who are this month celebrating 14 years of marriage equality.  With their OECD ranking high it appears they are coping just fine.

If you won’t speak up please tell me why not?  If you haven’t spoke up before please do!  Do you want to know what you can do to help?

 

Silence

A

 

Copyright 2015

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  1. This quote by Lily Tomlin is so true – “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody”
    I realised am somebody – are YOU somebody???

    Every voice can make a difference, especially when our pollies, who cast the vote on our rights, say they hear more from the Opponents.
    It can be hard to know how to use your voice effectively.
    Things YOU – plus all your friends and family – can do include:

    – Keep informed of future opportunities to take action http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/subscribe-to-our-supporter-database/
    – e-mail your pollies here (takes no time) http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/whereyourmpstands/
    – take 3 mins to send your MP and Senators a voice message http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/equalitycalling/

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