marriage equality – why a yes vote is important
Marriage Equality

An Editorial

Now the papers for the non-binding vote on marriage equality have started to be delivered and with them, comes a very important decision.
Do you vote YES to the right of people to marry regardless of gender, or do you vote NO to maintain the status quo.
The federal government would have us believe that there are far more important issues to deal with than this issue. Are there?
There is no denying that national security, education, welfare, energy provision and a long list of issues aren’t critical and demand our attention.
But what of marriage equality?
In an article written by George Rennie, Lecturer in American Politics and Lobbying Strategies, University of Melbourne and published yesterday in the Toorak Times, Rennie wrote,
the No campaign has distinct advantages when it advertises. These primarily relate to status-quo bias. Research shows that political actors often have an aversion to change, and will disproportionately focus on perceived losses relative to perceived gains. 
As such, advocacy campaigns that focus on losses tend to do better than those focused on gains. On same-sex marriage, the gain is clear for some (such as those seeking to marry, and the rights this affords), but it is more reliant on more abstract notions like “fairness” for those not directly affected.
To that end, a campaign that suggests same-sex marriage will somehow erode many people’s rights (or those of their children) has an advantage over a campaign focused on establishing new rights.
Does voting YES erode people’s rights? We would argue that not only does it not erode rights; it is quite the opposite as it provides rights to those who currently are denied them. It would be the NO vote that erodes rights through its denial of allowing choice.
In regard to spurious arguments being made by some sections of the community, marriage equality will take nothing away from the religious freedom of those who oppose it; it will restore and uphold the religious freedom of those in favour.
Now should the YES vote prevail and should the federal government allow a free vote and should that vote support the YES vote by the people and that is a lot of “should”, then those who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex will have lost no rights whatsoever, while, those who wish to marry someone of the same sex will have gained that important right.
It is our belief that the NO campaign is largely upon claims and statements that have no empirical evidence to support them. The NO campaign is based upon fear and misinformation and plays upon the concerns of people who either resist change, for in these people’s minds change takes us out of the comfort of the status quo and into the fearful unknown or, have strong sometimes-extremist religious points of view.
This does not mean these citizens do not have the right to practice those beliefs and hold the sanctity of marriage to be between a man and a woman.
However the NO vote does deny those who do not hold those strong religious beliefs, of which according to the last census is a growing percentage of the population, the right to make a choice based upon their beliefs. Those who support the YES vote are expressing beliefs that are no less valid than those supporting a NO vote.
In our opinion a YES vote is imperative. It sends a strong message that we believe that marriage equality is a right that all Australians should have. We support the contention that Australian’s have a right to choose a partner to spend their life with regardless of what other Australian’s might.
We believe a YES vote makes a declaration that this nation has both a strong and healthy heart and, a strong and healthy soul. Further we believe that it shows that this country is prepared to move forward with confidence that it can recognise and appreciate the past but is ready to move forward into a future where all really can have a “fair go”!
By saying YES to marriage equality we affirm that this country has at its core the value that says everyone has the right to be treated equally and has the right to find happiness in marriage with a partner of choice.
It makes not just a declaration regarding equality of choice but where and who we are as a nation.
Let’s move forward together – we support a vote of YES!

Rob Greaves
Senior Editor – Toorak Times