Get informed and get vocal if you want equality, Wear It With Pride ambassadors Kerryn Phelps and partner Jackie Stricker have said.
Phelps — former president of the Australian Medical Association — and Stricker, her partner of 16 years — are two of the high-profile activists, celebrities and community members signed on to promote the GLBT rights campaign. They see education as the key to overcoming community apathy — an essential step in overcoming political pressure from the religious right.
“Most of the people I talk to are unaware about the rights that they do and don’t have,” Stricker told Sydney Star Observer.
“It’s so important, particularly when you have such a proactive religious right, coming up against a non-proactive gay community. You can have people out there advocating, but unless the masses start to turn around and complain about only having some of their rights, you’re not going to get the change that’s required.
“We need to start making the same noise and exerting influence wherever we can,” Phelps continued.
“The right is prevailing in the anti-gay marriage fight at the moment, because they’ve got themselves organised, well resourced and they speak with one voice.
“We to need to have a strong, unified, single voice on a range of issues.”
Phelps said the community needs an encompassing national rights lobby group to provide a single go-to organisation for politicians to deal with.
“The politicians said to me, when I was AMA president, ‘We’d be happy to do more for the gay community, but who do we listen to?’
“We’ve got one group saying one thing, and there are different groups disagreeing about the marriage thing. It’s great that there are all these community groups, but in terms of lobbying, there has to be a consensus opinion that goes forward to our politicians.”
As foster parents and Wear It With Pride ambassadors for GLBT parenting rights, Phelps and Stricker see this as a unique time in the struggle for gay and lesbian equality.
“Compared to 10 years ago, so many of us have children,” Stricker said.
“We have an obligation to look after our children. If they are going to grow up in this community with lesser rights than children of heterosexual parents, then shame on the gay community for allowing that to happen. And if marriage protects those children further, then why aren’t we afforded that same right?”
The pair have called on gay and lesbian marriage doubters to reconsider their position.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’m pro-choice, but at the moment, we don’t have a choice,” Phelps said.
“If somebody’s a member of the gay community, and they never want to marry anyone, then great. But if you’re a member of the gay community who could one day want to marry the love of your life, then you should have that choice.”
“It’s the next step,” Stricker went on. “Full out equality. Full stop. End of story.”
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