I must confess that even as a lawyer and professional, battle-hardened by my personal experiences of having been a dissident under an oppressive communist regime and later a political refugee, maintaining belief in my self-worth and the wisdom of my fellow Australians is no simple task in the face of the anti-gay hate and ignorance we are currently immersed in.
Therefore, I can’t even imagine how young LGBTI people must feel right now in the face of this malicious, vicious onslaught on who we are, and our rights to be equal under the civil laws of our progressive, secular, liberal democracy. To add insult to injury this farce and homophobic hate-fest is sponsored by our own government.
But we must all be strong, and support each other, no matter how we each choose to respond to this latest challenge.
Over the decades we fought many battles against the bigoted, the hateful, and the ignorant and yes, the fight is always hurtful and leaves emotional scars that you will carry for the rest of you life.
But each time we were victorious, we grew a little stronger, wiser, and more confident, and over the years we carved out the right to be who we are born to be, and to exist free from discrimination.
Yes, I’m frustrated and angry too that we still have to fight these battles because of a regressive, but influential, few, and my first reaction was to boycott this malicious, fraudulent farce of a voluntary postal ‘plebiscite’.
But our community at large appears to have decided to put up a fight and, in the absence of a large-scale, organised boycott, I will join that fight to help any way I can, and I encourage you to join in as well.
However, if you decide to boycott this abominable process, I understand and I will respect and defend your choice to do so.
But do keep in mind that the voluntary nature of the vote means that no one will be able to tell apart those who boycotted the process on principle, and those who just didn’t care enough to vote.
There is still a glimmer of hope that the two High Court challenges, one by Just.Equal, and the other by Australian Marriage Equality, will put an end to this travesty, but if not, we will fight to carve out not just the right to continue to be free to love, but to have that love recognised and acknowledged.
Make no mistake, this fight will be dirty, malicious, and vicious, and it will be filled with degrading lies.
That is the very nature of our ‘enemy’.
But remember, our enemy are not the men or the women who will bring forth the degrading, malicious, and vicious lies, but ignorance.
People are not born bigots and haters – they are a product of their upbringing and circumstances.
And we can change that, and we can make sure it gets better for all of us.
Not just the LGBTI community, but for our opponents as well.
Because to educate them, and to open their eyes to humanity and progress, is the biggest gift we can give them.
Fight for your right to exist!
Fight for your right to love!
And don’t look to your elected representatives to protect you from the hate and the lies. They have more important things to worry about – their political survival.
But, rise above it and be proud of who you are! Always!
Although there will be two separate High Court challenges against this hateful voluntary ‘plebiscite’ farce, in the next few days make sure to check that you, and everyone you know, are enrolled to vote.
Remember, you may have as little as 14 days from today to get on the electoral roll if this farce goes ahead.
If you are not enrolled to vote, please enrol so you can have a voice if we are forced to participate in this malicious farce.
And when the time comes, vote ‘Yes,’ and return your voluntary vote, because that vote will define our equality and civil rights potentially for a long time to come!
Of course, given the circumstances, the chances of a victory this time are very low, and even a victory would not end ignorant hate overnight, but would be another significant incremental step towards us living free of discrimination, and being equal before the law.
So, talk to your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues, and explain to them why this law reform is important to you, the person you love, and your LGBTI friends, and ask for their support.
We will need to put up quite a fight because, as usual, the odds are stacked against us. The very format of this government-sponsored farce, a voluntary postal plebiscite, will be skewed towards people who don’t just oppose marriage equality, but oppose, even deny, our very existence.
The fact that a ‘No’ outcome is binding, but a ‘Yes’ outcome is not, says everything you need to know about this malicious exercise in ridiculousness.
And remember, this is a voluntary postal ballot, so we will have the uphill battle of convincing ordinary Australians, many of whom are not even remotely affected by the discrimination against the LGBTI community, to care enough to check their enrollment on the electoral roll, enroll to vote if need be, complete their ballot, and return it in the post – and contrast that mammoth task with the fact that we couldn’t even get an undertaking from some of our own in Parliament to cross the floor if the opportunity arose for a vote on the issue!
And even if we win this fraudulent farce, which I still think is highly unlikely, I believe there are better chances of a Labor election victory in 2019, than the Coalition putting up a Bill not stacked with discriminatory provisions that would set the equality and rights of the LGBTI community back a decade or two, and that Bill (which we are yet to see) getting through Parliament (unless it is stacked with discriminatory provisions) given how many members of the Coalition declared that they won’t be bound by the outcome of the plebiscite, and the Greens and/or Labor passing a Bill stacked with discriminatory provisions … and that’s just the short version of this farce!
But, if this farce does go ahead, and the majority of the LGBTI community insists on participating, I ask that you vote ‘Yes,’ and return your voluntary vote, to ensure that we are seen as united, and fighting for equality before the law, and for a love that does not just dare to speak its name, but writes its name into the skies, loudly and proudly …