Editor's Note: LGBTQNation Sunday Columnist Desmond Rutherford forwarded this op-ed piece authored by Sam Mclean, the Executive Director of Sydney, Australia based activist organisation GetUp! GetUp! is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation which aims to build a more progressive Australia by giving everyday Australians the opportunity to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.
GetUp does not back any particular party and relies on small donations to fund its work and in-kind donations from the Australian public. GetUp does not accept donations from political parties or the Government.
By Sam Mclean | SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA -- Change doesn't come easy. Just 15 years ago, it was a crime in Tasmania to be homosexual. Rodney Croome led the campaign to change that, and he won. This week, we came closer than ever -- within one vote -- of passing same-sex marriage laws in that state.
I don't know what it is to face discrimination. I'm a straight, white man, and about as privileged as they come. But this week, I sat in Tasmania's Legislative Council and listened to hour after hour of politicians talking down the discrimination gay, lesbian and intersex Tasmanians face. I heard them say that same-sex relationships are fundamentally different, and that changing the law won't help change community attitudes.
Afterwards, a man recognised me on the street. He spat at me and yelled that GetUp and our "poofter mates" are ruining the country. I couldn't shake the pall for hours. I try and fail to imagine what it is to hear that regularly -- let alone to hear it from my father, aunty or friends.
When that shameful policy was ended today 15 years ago, we heard the same dithering excuses some MLCs used when voting 'no' to marriage equality this week. Discrimination in our law feeds discrimination in our hearts.
The worst thing about the laws that made homosexuality a crime in Tasmania was not the threat of jail, but rather the constant reality of bigotry endorsed by law. Marriage equality isn't just about marriage. It's about ending discrimination.
We lost the vote this week in Tasmania. We lost the vote in Federal Parliament the week before. But for me, both were powerful reminders of why we fight for progress, and why we will win. I'm so proud that GetUp members could support Rodney, Rick and all the other champions of reform in Tasmania, including Premier Giddings, and Greens leader Nick McKim. Let's keep fighting. I just returned from Tasmania, and I want to introduce you to some of the heroes of this campaign, like Rodney.
When you meet them, you'll understand why we must keep fighting - and why we will win. It's a short video, but I think you'll find in it some inspiration for your long weekend. It doesn't stop here. In South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and across the nation, we are on the march to removing discrimination against same-sex couples from our laws.