By Darren Coyne
Johnny Dawson and Mark Bailey of Lismore have been together for ten years and hope that one day they can celebrate their union by marrying.
But with Federal politicians stalling on the issue, they fear their dream could be a long way away.
In an effort to speed up the process, the Lismore City Council is being asked to reaffirm its commitment to marriage equality.
Cr Darlene Cook has lodged a notice of motion for the next council meeting asking fellow councillors to ‘publicly support marriage equality for all persons irrespective of sex, gender identity or sex characteristics’.
She also wants the council to write to all Federal members of Parliament and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission advising them of the council’s ongoing commitment and support for marriage equality.
She wants a genuine conscience vote on the issue, and for the council to fly a rainbow flag or banner in a prominent place over the city until marriage equality is achieved.
Mr Bailey and Mr Dawson are fully supportive of the motion.
‘We support Cr Cook’s motion because this region is renowned for diversity and tolerance which is what attracted us to the area in the first place,’ Mr Bailey said.
‘We hope all politicians of all political persuasions get on board and support this motion.’
Cr Cook pointed out that communities across the northern rivers region are overwhelmingly in favour of changes to the Marriage Act to enable marriage equality.
‘The Lismore LGA contains, per capita, the highest population of LGBTI persons outside of the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne,’ she said.
‘The contribution of LGBTI community to the LGA cannot be measured just in dollar terms; we are your neighbours, teachers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, builders – we are the people next door.
‘Why should our relationships be treated differently from opposite sex attracted persons’ relationships, under the law? ‘
Just days ago, Australian film icon Paul Hogan, who once lived in the area, also spoke out in favour of marriage equality.
Hogan was speaking at an event in Sydney on Saturday when he said it was “stupid” that same-sex marriage was not recognised in Australia.
‘There is an opinion that Australians are more tolerant and more open, but you don’t have gay marriage here yet, do you? Why not? Isn’t that stupid?” Hogan told his audience.
The Crocodile Dundee star rejected the government’s proposal to hold a national plebiscite on the issue.
‘If gay people want to get married, we shouldn’t vote on it,’ he said.
‘Just let them get married, for Christ’s sake.’
Cr Cook’s motion will be debated at next Tuesday’s council meeting.