The issue of same sex marriage is an issue very close to my heart. As I constantly tell the MP’s and Senators I meet in Canberra 'I have 2 sons, one gay, one straight and I want equality for both my sons'.
Marriage equality is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed in Australia. Conservative, Catholic countries are legislating for equality which encourages inclusion but the Australian Government is very slow to act because, as I am constantly told by the MPs, 'we are different'.
The continued discrimination in this country against the gay community is similar to the belief that the White Australia Policy was a good thing, but of course we now know this isn’t true. Racist fears were found to be groundless once this discriminatory policy was removed. And the same thing will apply when equality comes for the LGBTI community.
What gives me hope is today the young people are more informed, with higher expectations, and won’t accept second best. As a parent I believe this is an issue where parents should be standing in front of their children saying 'We want equality for all our children, not just some'.
This book SPEAK NOW contains a variety of stories, all compelling and confirming to me that it’s time for change, regardless of whether couples personally want to marry. Most definitely, they should have the same choices and rights as their siblings and society in general.
Marriage is an institution that isn’t perfect, or a Utopia, but it is how society generally values and celebrates a couple’s relationship.
Shelley Argent OAM
National Spokesperson PFLAG
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Qld. Senior Australian of the Year 2011
Shelley Argent and Victor Marsh launched 'Speak now : Australian perspectives on sane-sex marriage' at Avid Reader, 18 October.