Way back in 2003 my partner Sarah and I were in Toronto visiting her family when the Canadian marriage laws changed. We were married six weeks later surrounded by friends and family.
When we returned to Australia we decided to run a legal case to challenge the existing federal marriage laws. Unbeknown to us, another couple, Jason and Adrian, had decided to do exactly the same. We all met – for the first time – in legal chambers in the city. Our case was never heard – the Howard government changed the Marriage Act three days before we were due in court.
Fast forward ten years and Jason says he’s sick of relying on other people to speak for us and we need our own voice in federal parliament, and not just for the sake of marriage equality. In fact, lots of people are doing great work in that space so we can concentrate on other important areas.
And so – while totally supporting the push for marriage equality – we decide that the focus of the Australian Equality Party will be much broader, and address the many issues that the LGBTIQ community has to grapple with on a daily basis.
Enter Nathan Despott, disability and communications expert, producer of the acclaimed ‘Inside Ex-Gay’ series, policy guru, all round critical thinker, world traveller, and Eurovision tragic. Nathan sets about producing the most relevant and comprehensive LGBTIQ policy platform known to humankind – and I kid you not.
Over a period of 12 months he coordinates a small team of similarly smart policy peeps (Nicki, Remy, Camille and Sam – more about them later) who undertake extensive consultation with community experts, sensitively navigating heartfelt differences between passionate advocates. Nathan and the team scrutinise existing policy and research both here and overseas.
The result is a policy platform that covers more than 20 areas, only one of which is marriage. Now I know policy documents don’t make the sexiest reading, but the list of contents is impressive (and only one page) and definitely worth a look: equality.org.au/policy. We’ll be launching an updated version next month in response to feedback.
So the reason I’m sharing this part of our story today is because of the US Supreme Court decision last week. Ironically, much of the commentary I read on Australian social media was about how other LGBTIQ issues are also important and that maybe, once marriage equality is achieved, we can re-focus our energies on some of those issues.
We plan to do just that.
Jac Tomlins, Deputy Leader, AEP
This is the second post in an ongoing series called “The Senate Seat” by Jac Tomlins. You can read the first post here.