This plain english guide provides all the info you need to take meaningful action right now with just a few clicks and only a few minutes. It contains weblinks to really useful resources.
If you like this Info & Action list, please share it via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail to all your friends and family so they can take action too.
It can be difficult knowing how to have same-sex marriage legalised. There is a lot that you (and your friends and family) can do, and this easy to follow guide will explain what to do and how to do it. With a little know-how you can achieve lots.
How is the law changed?
- Australia has three levels of government - local (Council), state and federal.
- The Marriage Act is regulated by the federal government.
- In 2004 the Howard government passed an amendment to the Marriage Act stating that marriage was between one man and one woman. This was done to prevent same-sex marriage.
- It’s easy for MP’s to vote to amend the Marriage Act again to allow same-sex marriage, if the community exerts enough pressure on MP’s to do so.
- Federal MP’s have the power to allow same-sex marriage by voting to pass a Bill (a proposed law) to amend the Marriage Act.
- For same sex marriage to become law, a same sex marriage Bill must first pass a majority vote of the 150 MP's in the Lower House (House of Representatives). Then it must pass a majority vote of Senators in the Upper House (the Senate).
What we can all do:
It’s important for each of us to take action, but more importantly to ask all our friends and family to take action too. Please share this document with your friends/family.
- The most important items to take action on, are below in YELLOW HIGHLIGHT.
1. Tell your Politicians you want them to support marriage equality.
Contact your MP using this easy web-form.
• Federal MP’s and Senators are the people who will vote to amend the Marriage Act.
• It’s very important to let them know you want full marriage equality.
• MP’s say they hear more from people opposing marriage equality rather than equality supporters.
• One Senator told me she receives 75-100 e-mails each week asking not to amend the Marriage Act.
• Another MP said “same sex marriage has prompted more emails to my office than almost any other topic - the vast majority opposed".
• Politicians say if we want the law changed then people must tell them this is what they want.
It takes less than 1 minute and carries a lot of weight with politicians.
Enter your postcode and this web-form determines who your MP is and addresses an e-mail to them.
Your e-mail goes to multiple politicians including MP’s and all your state Senators.
2. Complete your MP’s survey.
Some MP’s are surveying their electorates on marriage equality. Some MP surveys have shown their constituents support marriage equality by 72% and 73%.
Survey results like this do a lot to persuade an MP to support marriage equality.
Tell all your friends and family if their MP is surveying their electorate,
2012 will be a crucial year in the push for marriage equality. It’s easy to keep up to date with news relating to marriage equality and how you can take action.
Make sure all your friends and family know how to be involved:
• Follow Australian Marriage Equality on Twitter - @AMEQUALITY
If you have done these things, that's great. Want to do more? Then read on
4. Sign these petitions.
5. Contact the Opposition Leader.
6. Meet with your local federal MP.
What to say when you contact your MP:
It’s best to tell your own personal story – e.g .if gay/lesbian say how you feel about being treated differently to your friends/family. If a heterosexual friend/relative of a gay/lesbian person say how you feel about having different rights to your gay/lesbian friend/relative.
Don’t just contact your MP once. Keep abreast of marriage equality issues using the information sources listed above and when there is anything of interest tell your MP about this and remind them that you are still waiting for equality.
Meeting with a politican can be a very powerful exercise. Every citizen has the right to request to meet their local MP to express their opinions and challenge their MP’s views. Don’t feel intimidated. As a constituent (i.e. you live in the MP’s electorate) and tax payer, I consider my MP to be my employee and I’m their boss (I pay their wages after all).
If you prefer, you can make an appointment to speak with your MP over the phone.
Preparation for your meeting:
- Spend time doing research so that you attend the meeting well informed and can supply relevant info to the MP and answer any of their questions.
- Write down what you want to say – dot points often work well.
- Consider crossing off each item as you discuss it with your MP. This makes it easy to see what you still need to discuss.
- Take a photo of a same-sex couple you know (e.g. yourself and your same-sex partner, your child/sibling/friend and their same-sex partner) to show the MP the people who are given less rights.
- Know how much time you have for your meeting and keep an eye that time doesn’t get away leaving you insufficient time to say everything you want.
- Understand that the MP will also want to talk and this leaves less time for you to put your case – e.g. if your appt is 20 mins, you may only have 10 mins to actually speak.
- If your MP should dominate or take the conversation off-track be politely assertive and bring the conversation back on track to ensure you have time to cover everything you want to say.
- This page has many great tips
- Be prepared you may be asked about Civil Unions. Read up on Civil Unions and how they discriminate here http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/AME-MarriageNotCivilUnions.pdf
- Some people including some MP’s, believe that sexuality is a choice. You are perfectly entitled to ask your MP if they believe that sexuality (homosexuality) is a choice. If your MP believes this, you may want to ask when they chose to be straight. See this great clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJtjqLUHYoY
- Be aware of amendments made to 85 pieces of Federal legislation in 2009 which gave greater equality to same-sex couples http://www.wearitwithpride.com.au/ If your MP suggests this action is enough, tell him/her that these 85 amendments were only bringing same-sex couples into line with rights heterosexual de facto couples already had, and there still remains inequality regarding choices for relationship recognition as long as only heterosexuals can marry.
What to take to your meeting:
To see the notes I took to my MP meeting click here
- Take these excellent fact sheets.
Use a highlighter pen to mark the relevant important parts, discuss these with your MP and leave them with the MP.
2. Take these Poll Results.
Politicians place great credibility on polls by independent polling companies – but some underestimate the level of support for marriage equality.
If meeting your MP print these polls out and use a highlighter to show the majority support for marriage equality. Take this to your meeting and discuss the results with your MP and leave a copy with them.
Ask your pollie what they believe the level of support is, and then show them the actual results. Politicians will want to study these polls.
1. Individual Electorate Poll - 2010 .
This poll is of limited use as it's not by a reputable independent polling company. Some politicians will give it no credit, while others will want to read the results and keep a copy for their records.
This poll only shows an average 46% support, while the independent polls (below) shows 62% - 68% support.
One great feature is this poll shows if your MP voted for or against the motion by Adam Bandt MP for all MP's to consult their constituents on same sex marriage. If your MP voted “for” please thank them. If they voted “against” ask them why they didn't want to hear their constituents views on same sex marriage.
(Note – in some electorates this poll may show the majority oppose marriage equality. If this is then case, it's best to take only the below polls)
2. Galaxy National Poll - November 2011.
Shows 80% believe the Coalition should have a conscience vote on a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry.
3. Galaxy National Poll – August 2011.
Shows 53% of Christians and 67% of people with no religion support same sex marriage.
4. Roy Morgan National Poll – July 2011.
Shows 68% support same sex marriage
(this link does not show the full Poll results, though politicians can access them)
5. Galaxy National Poll – October 2010.
Shows 62% support same sex marriage.
6. Same Sex Marriage Inevitability Poll – 2011.
Shows 75% believe same sex marriage is inevitable in Australia.
(I give politicians a copy of this poll but I have found they are more interested in the above polls)
7. Attend a Marriage Equality training workshop.
Want to see same sex marriage legalised? Don’t know what to do to make it happen? Who to contact? What to say? You’re not alone.... Come along to a free fun informative workshop to help you get started
with confidence. Open to anyone who wants to make a difference.
8. View, plus then make your own “I expect better” video.
View the video by Shelley Argent that launched this campaign then watch the “I expect better” videos made by others in response to Shelley’s video. After viewing these videos consider making one of your own. Shelley sends every video made to all Federal MP's. Other people's videos can help you with ideas of what to say in your video.
9. Host a Marriage Equality Action Party.
Invite your friends and family over for “a social event with a social conscience”.
Have a gathering where people are encouraged and assisted to take action by:
10. Attend a Marriage Equality rally.
The group Equal Love organises Marriage Equality rallies approx 4 times a year in capital cities and many regional centres. The rallies involve speeches followed by an orderly police approved march through the streets with people carrying placards and chanting pro-marriage equality messages. Bring all your friends/family too. See http://www.caah.org.au/ or join Equal Love on Facebook to be kept informed.
11. Ask your Trade Union to poll members on marriage equality.
Please ask the Secretary of your trade union to poll all members’ views on marriage equality and then to use the results to formulate an official union policy. Some unions have strong input to the ALP and can vote on future ALP policy such as marriage equality.
12. Write letters to the Editor.
action, plus MP’s take note of what people say in these letters. You can send letters to numerous types of publications - local papers, state papers, and national papers, plus online papers/blogs etc.
Letters to the editor serve to increase public awareness of an issue, help to motivate others to take
13. Phone in to talk back radio programs:
• Opinion polls consistently show 62% - 68% support for full marriage equality.
• A conscience vote is now supported by 80% of Australians.
• It is undemocratic for Coaltion MP's to be forced to vote against equality by their party.
An MP who is very supportive of marriage equality told me we should be discussing marriage equality on talk back radio.
• Ring in and comment on everyday topics while raising the fact you are in a same sex relationship. e.g. My partner Fred and I have lived in our house for 23 years and a speed hump is about to be built outside our bedroom window – we are not happy.
• Provide comments to any programs talking about marriage equality.
Information/Advice provided by Politicians and their staff:
- To have the law changed lots of people need to contact their MP’s, so encourage all your friends and family to contact their MP’s. It’s important to showing large numbers want marriage equality.
- One MP meeting is equivalent to 10 posted letters, which is equivalent to 100 e-mails, which is equivalent to 1,000 petition signatures.
- Seven postal letters received by an MP on the one topic is considered an avalanche (this applies even if the letter is printed on a printer, signed and then posted).
- A phone call to an MP’s office and speaking with the MP can be almost equivalent to a meeting with the MP.
- A phone call to an MP’s office and speaking with the MP’s staff member can be equivalent to a postal letter to the MP.
- Some politicians have negative views on homosexuality and our language may alter the way our message is received Some people block out any perception of two people in love and immediately think of gay sex the minute they hear the words “gay”, “lesbian”, “homosexual”. By using the words “marriage equality” we stand a better chance that our message might actually be heard.
Please encourage all your friends, family, work mates to take action also.
“This is your world, shape it or somebody else will” Shelley Argent.
THANK YOU for taking action.
(compiled by Phil Browne, Brisbane – updated January 2012)