Newcastle Herald editorial September 27 2017: Firm views on marriage warm up cold feet

COLD feet have become so associated with marriage as to enter the realms of cliche. But there has been no such nervousness with brands, corporations and sporting organisations dipping their toes into the same-sex marriage debate.

Newcastle City Council on Tuesday night resolved to support the yes vote. In supporting marriage equality, the council is following organisations including the NRL, the AFL, Qantas and Kmart who are among more than 2000 businesses or organisations to stand up for the yes campaign.

When it comes to the motives of corporations, some cynicism is natural. Some will see it as more about the balance sheet than balancing human rights.

Some organisations evidently believe it is good business to associate their brand with the push for change. Perhaps they were swayed by backlash against US chicken chain Chick-fil-A over comments by its chief executive opposing same-sex marriage in 2015. That company ultimately left the matter to the political arena, a hint it regretted taking any stance. 

But for many, such public declarations will be considered simply as decent gestures. The right thing to do.

For voters, it is a matter of conscience. For some that means adhering to religious doctrine, or supporting the status quo. Others see it as a chance to decide whether homosexuality or heterosexuality should be a  factor in recognition of relationships.

It’s hard to imagine anyone has changed their vote because of the view of a sporting organisation, business or indeed council.

Still, a Newspoll this week indicated support for changing the Marriage Act had slipped, with the yes vote sliding from 63 to 57 per cent as no supporters rose from 30 to 34 per cent. 

The Newcastle Herald respects the right of all to have an opinion but it stands up for human rights and is proud to support marriage equality. 

Newcastle council’s record on human rights is notable. In 1977, it was famously the first council to fly the Aboriginal flag. Soon the rainbow flag will fly over City Hall.

“It is absolutely up to a council … to show leadership on these community issues,” lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said. “People have elected us to make decisions.”

This new council will have some difficult decisions to make. This one was easy, and the council got it right.

Issue: 38,608