Newcastle’s response to the marriage equality postal vote has been “huge” so far, the man spearheading the ‘yes’ campaign says.
Australians For Equality director Tiernan Brady will visit Newcastle on Wednesday to thank supporters and continue the “respectful conversation” about the need for marriage equality.
“This is about people who live in Newcastle – marriage equality is not a ‘what’, marriage equality is a ‘who’,” Mr Brady said.
“We just want to make sure that it stays respectful, that it’s a moment that unites the country. There’s no victory for us in a divisive, negative campaign, so we’re just going to make sure we are relentlessly positive.”
There is a month before the November 7 voting deadline, with the result to be announced on November 15.
“From the campaign feedback we’ve been getting, it looks like the turnout in Newcastle is huge, which is really good for us and we are really delighted about it,” Mr Brady said.
“What we’re finding is the most common response people get when they’re doing conversations, phone calls or door knocking, is ‘I’ve already voted’.
“Thankfully, most of them are also saying ‘I’ve already voted yes’.”
According to polling data released by Australians For Equality on Monday, one in five Australians aged 18 to 24 had filled in the voting form, but had not yet posted it.
Mr Brady said part of the message he wanted to spread to regional areas like Newcastle – where there are thousands of young voters living away from home to study at university – was to make sure they got their hands on their ballot paper, even if it had been sent to their parents’ house.
“We’re really keen [to ensure] that those young people make sure that they’ve voted,” he said.
Mr Brady was a key player in the successful ‘yes’ campaign in his homeland, Ireland, where same-sex marriage was legalised in 2015.
“The values are so similar. This is a simple matter of fairness and equality and people get that,” he said.
“Both countries have a really long-held commitment to the idea of fairness and a fair go.”
“Marriage equality is not a change in Australia’s values – it’s a confirmation of those values. The real change or rebuke to the Australian value of a fair go would be a ‘no’ vote, because that would be walking away from the principle. The ‘no’ vote is the one that will create the social change – and it’s not a good social change.”
And while the campaign was tough in Ireland, Mr Brady said the Australian conversation has been just as difficult for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex) people in many cases.
“This is a vote about their dignity and that’s hard,” he said. “With the greatest respect to people on all sides of this debate, for someone to have to wake up and open the newspaper, turn on the radio, turn on their Twitter feed or Facebook, and see article after article saying being treated equally makes you a threat to society has been really hard for people.”
“That’s one of the reasons we say the tone is so important.”