Marriage equality advocates are set to break bread with federal independent MPs next week.
Lobby group Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has today announced same-sex marriage supporters will meet with independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie for dinner at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, October 31.
AME national convenor Alex Greenwich, who will also attend the evening, said those attending the dinner will come from the MP’s four electorates.
“Marriage equality is about affirming the importance of commitment, family and tradition, values which are particularly important in rural and regional Australia” Greenwich said.
“We look forward to talking to the independents about marriage equality, and are appreciative of the opportunity to include people from their electorates to help emphasise which this issue is important.”
Those attending the dinner will include the mother of a gay son from Katter’s electorate of Kennedy in Queensland, a community figure from Windsor’s electorate of New England in NSW and a lesbian couple from Oakeshott’s electorate of Lyne in NSW.
Joining MPs at the dinner table will also be Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome (from Wilkie’s Denison electorate), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson Shelley Argent, anti-homophobia in schools campaigner Daniel Witthaus.
In the late 1980s Katter famously claimed he would walk backwards from Bourke to Brisbane if there was a homosexual living in his electorate.
Katter has recently been vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage. He auctioned his trade-mark hat at an anti-gay marriage rally held at Parliament House in August and said same-sex marriage should be “laughed at and ridiculed.”
Wilkie has publicly supported gay marriage. In June he called for the Gillard Government to remove the ban on same-sex couples obtaining Certificates of No Impediment (CNIs) to marry overseas.
In August this year, during a parliamentary report-back following a motion put forward by Greens MP Adam Bandt, Oakeshott implied he supports same-sex marriage, but said he did not think his electorate was ready for it.
Windsor has said in the past he doesn’t have a problem with gay marriage “as long as it’s not compulsory”.
The independents are making good on the dinner invitation after AME won the chance to meet the four following a successful bid at this year’s parliamentary Mid Winter Ball charity auction.
As part of the auction, grassroots activist group GetUp! won a dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in which she is due to meet with three same-sex couples.
The Prime Minister has not yet committed to a date for the event.