Just wanted to post some more photos from the marriage equality rally in Melbourne yesterday, and take the chance to tell a couple of stories because there was so much love in my city and I’m so proud of everyone. Long post, sorry, but there’s a bit to cover - ye be warned.
I spotted this cute couple as I walked out of Melbourne Central (a shopping centre and train station all mashed together) and told them they looked fab. Spotted them again and asked for a photo - they were very happy to oblige when all of a sudden the ABC came up asking for an interview, and I took this pic. They were beautiful people.
I’d seen this guy post in the Facebook event just before I left home, and suddenly found myself standing right next to him! We had a quick chat about how many people had arrived and then waxed about how AMAZE it would be if Lady Gaga parachuted in to the masses. Really funny guy and I’m glad to have met him. I swear I’m so much more personable at these things.
I do love a simple home-made sign. I don’t have a story about this guy, sorry. Actually from here on in it’s all random stories of the day, assume the pics are unrelated.
The Greens senator Janet Rice got her rainbow family on stage while she was talking. Her wife is the Nobel Prize winning climatologist Penny Whetton, and she just happens to be trans. Senator Rice mentioned that in order for a married person to transition they must first divorce their partner. This information drew an audible gasp - fifteen thousand people had just heard this information for the first time and were disgusted.
A timely reminder that marriage equality doesn’t just effect the L and the G.
I spent my time during the speeches standing with the Greens, who I vote for (in the Senate at least) and who gave me a free shirt, so I felt obliged. They’ve been in this fight ever since former prime minister John Howard changed the marriage act - without the need for a plebiscite or survey - so I felt very comfortable chilling with them. I was about to take a photo for them when an organiser came up and announced that Senator Rice was about to do a press conference. They wanted representation in the shot, and as I was standing there and very obviously trans they asked if I wanted to be involved. I’m not a member yet, though, and declined. Besides, I am way too shy for that shit.
There were these two young girls - actually, side note, its amazing how many kids were not only there but openly passionate about the topic of the day - but these two girls couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, and they were leading a cheer as we marched:
One, two, three, four: equality is what we’re for!
Five, six, seven, eight: rainbow families are so great!
They were incredible, and you better believe that people were chanting along with them, these two young cheerleaders who were so full of life and love.
When the speeches started, the organisers said there were, as I said, about 15,000 people in attendance. Trams were not able to travel on Swanston Street, because people were covering the tram tracks. The lawn and steps leading to the State LIbrary was covered in people, myself included. People stretched down the street and crowded nearby balconies and you couldn’t get out of Melbourne Central on the Swanston St side like, at all.
When we marched, we picked up a lot more people. And I noticed at one point that we covered three entire streets - Latrobe, Elizabeth and Burke - and that doesn’t include the people that had decided to wait on Swanston. By the time everyone got back to the State Library we numbered twenty thousand.
Twenty thousand beautiful, loving, amazing people. It was incredible.
Finally, just a pic of my free shit (and also the free ribbon I received). I had a great time at the rally. More importantly, I’m galvanised. I haven’t campaigned for a political cause since Howard tried to implement an industrial relations bill called WorkChoices, which cost him the 2007 election. I was kinda active then.
Nothing can stop me now.
I’ve signed up to drop leaflets in my neighbourhood. I’m going to as many rallies as I can. I’m going to try and get involved in planning sessions for further action. I’m going to fight for this.
But it’s supremely shitty that Australia even finds itself in this situation.
Back in 2004, as I mentioned, John Howard made changes to the Marriage Act so that the legal definition was exclusively between a man and a woman. This change happened in parliament. Politicians on both sides did not feel the need to formally consult the people before voting unanimously for the change.
In desperation a few years ago (because we queers had gotten very, very loud), then prime minister Tony Abbott (he of the many memes) proposed that if queer people really wanted to get married then they could vote for the right to do so, in a plebiscite. In Australia, if you want to change the Constitution then you hold a referendum, and the result of that is binding on parliament. Marriage, however, is not part of our constitution - furthermore, a plebiscite result does not bind the members of parliament to vote in accordance with the will of the people. It was a delaying tactic, nothing more.
A couple of months ago Minister for Immigration and Horrible Shitty Human Being Peter Dutton proposed a new idea if the plebiscite-enabling legislation was blocked once again by the Senate: a postal survey.
It is, again, non-binding. It’s not compulsory, unlike regular voting. And a survey doesn’t require legislation to acquire the funding. This idea really excited the badly-named Liberals. The expectation was that the No voters, overwhelmingly those who are over 50, would vote in droves while those who would be more inclined to vote Yes would fight each other over ideas of boycotting and have no time to persuade the most powerful group - young people between 18-24 who support marriage equality at a factor of 81% - to post their ballot forms.
That makes the twenty-thousand strong crowd at yesterday’s rally truly astounding. We’re not fighting about boycotts - those that have suggested it have been mostly convinced otherwise. We have all the time in the world to convince young people to vote and in fact the electoral roll has swelled with close to one hundred thousand new enrolments. In a small country like Australia (pop. 24 million) that’s a lot of new potential Yes votes.And queer Melbournians have never felt so much love before, we’re all a bit awed.
We could do with a little help though, especially from those of you who live in a country where marriage equality exists. We don’t need much. We just need you to tell stories. Talk about that big gay wedding you went to last week. Mention how your friends just got engaged and how you’re thrilled for them. Above all, share stories about how the world didn’t end, that people didn’t marry bridges, and that the only thing that really changed was that there is more love being openly celebrated.
We know that 70% of the country supports marriage equality. We also know that 1 in 5 of those people aren’t sure if they’re going to vote. So a little bit of convincing from internetionals will go a long, long way.
That’s all from me. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I love you all.
And remember: superheroes vote yes!