A MEDIA RELEASE FROM PFLAG AUSTRALIA
PFLAG = Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays (LGBTIQ)
As National Spokesperson for parents with lesbian daughters and gay sons, I decided I needed to take voices of the silent majority with me to Canberra re marriage equality. So a few weeks ago I put out a call for people to write letters about “marriage equality” and the need for a Free Vote.
As it has happened, the letters are very timely after Ireland’s successful referendum and Bill Shorten putting pressure on Mr. Abbott and the Coalition to show leadership, be democratic, disregard personal belief and allow a Free Vote.
We are calling on the Government to stop procrastinating. We the parents and the general population of Australia are tired of waiting, tired of the issue being seen as unimportant, trivialised and tired of the procrastination that has gone on until now.
The people who wrote these letters want action. As parents we want action and we say its time our same sex attracted sons and daughters were granted the same privileges, choices and challenges to all couples that choose to marry.
A young man, made contact with me stating “my letter campaign has made him feel valued and worthy”. That is how important equality is, and knowing someone cares, for the gay community and their loved ones.
As parents we bring our children into this world believing Australia is a free and equal society. However, when one “comes out” we quickly realise this country is not about equality.
Furthermore, as parents we can’t buy, earn or give our children their rights and worse still they can’t earn their rights regardless of how they as individuals benefit this country with their unique talents, abilities and education.
We don’t care which political party brings the change. Our children’s rights are not political footballs as it seems at the moment. We want change NOW.
Parents want their sons and daughters to be seen as equal in every way. We say if Ireland is in agreement, why aren’t we?
Shelley Argent OAM
National Spokesperson PFLAG
Below is a letter enclosed in Mr Abbott’s bundle of letters:
Hon. Tony Abbott MHR
Member for Warringah
1st June, 2015
As National Spokesperson for parents with same sex attracted sons and daughters I would like to congratulate you for beginning to consider a Free Vote for the Coalition on marriage equality.
I would also like you to accept these messages from Australians who responded to my call for letters supporting marriage equality to bring to Canberra this week. I am passing on letters that have been sent to MP’s from both sides of government because you are the Leader of this country.
I am sure you are aware of the detrimental impact (deliberate or otherwise) discrimination has on our lesbian and gay loved ones. Many suffer depression and have suicidal ideation which impacts on their personal and work life, some are affected by substance abuse (alcohol, smoking and drugs) caused by feelings of not being worthy or feelings of being considered second rate citizens.
As a parent it’s very difficult to have respect for any Government who refuses to improve the lives of our sons and daughters. Legislating for marriage equality is cost free and will dramatically improve the lives of so many couples who sincerely want to marry their partner. Every day Australians will say “thank goodness, now let’s move on” and as a government there is nothing to lose just votes to gain.
Like eye colour, sexual orientation is not a choice, but most choose to live their life the best way they can and for many to marry their partners is an extremely important choice to make in their lives. And, like yours and mine a decision not taken lightly.
It’s time, you as our Prime Minister showed real leadership on this issue. Personally, you may not agree but the vast majority of Australians do support marriage equality, as you know by the polls and particularly the poll conducted by Cosby Textor last year.
On a personal note, as parents we raised our two sons to believe we live in a free and equal society, but when our eldest son “came out” we quickly realised this is not a country of equality. We like the rest of parents I represent want our sons and daughters to be seen as equals in their birth country. As parents,
regardless of wealth we cannot buy, provide or earn our children’s rights and they can’t earn, or buy their right to marry, regardless of whom they are and what they achieve to benefit this country. This is just wrong.
Spain, France, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Portugal, and Ireland are all Conservative and Catholic countries.
We then have Canada, UK and New Zealand with the same family values and principles along with another dozen countries and 36 States in the US (again a conservative, religious country with similar values to Australia. The fears of the “nay sayers” have not come to fruition in these countries but same sex couples have benefitted.
Those who disagree with marriage equality may have their beliefs challenged, but their lives will not be changed in any way. If my son and your sister are given the right to marry their partner of choice, they will have much to gain and a lot to lose should this legislation remain unchanged.
It is time Mr. Abbott, procrastinate no longer, say “yes to a Free Vote” and ensure that there is no intimidation on how to vote. It’s a debate that needs to be respectful amongst colleagues in the parliament and society as a whole.
Shelley Argent OAM
National Spokesperson PFLAG
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays