This Saturday will see the culmination of a campaign that has been running strong since 2004 to end discrimination against LGBTI Australians in the Marriage Act.
It is hoped the Labor Party will amend its national platform to support marriage equality. If this happens, amending the federal Marriage Act is a short walk down the aisle away.
The key role of Australian Marriage Equality, PFLAG, CAAH, Equal Love, GetUp! and the gay and lesbian rights lobbies in getting us here is well known. But what isn’t so well known is the passionate campaign that has been run within Labor to be the party to deliver equality.
At every state and territory, Labor conference grassroots members have delivered powerful speeches that have swayed opinions. Parents, couples, and factory workers addressed these events, hiding their nerves and holding back tears, to share their stories with audiences filled with union powerbrokers, factional leaders, and senior state and federal MPS.
The results of these conferences have almost always been positive, with motions of support for a change to the federal platform being passed from coast to coast.
This Saturday we can expect to see a lot more of this, delivered even more powerfully. Supporters of equality within the ALP have been anxiously preparing their speeches, emailing delegates their personal stories, and calling on the powerbrokers to do the right thing.
But they will need our help. I will be at the rally on December 3 not to protest against Labor, but to show my support for our many friends and advocates within the conference walls. Over the years, many of them have had to cop the blanket criticism of the Labor Party, despite working tirelessly for reform.
If the far right of the party somehow connives its way into ruining this special day for Labor, we also need to realise, as disappointed as we all will be at the rally, those inside the conference will be utterly devastated.
Of course, I am cautiously optimistic we will be celebrating rather than commiserating on Saturday. For every Joe de Bruyn, we have at least 10 Shelley Argent-style Labor parents who will fight tooth and nail together to combat Uncle Joe’s tricks.
December 3 will be a historic day for the LGBTI community and it will be a watershed moment for the Labor Party, which has a real chance to break free from its toxic far right and return to its core values of fairness and equality.
INFO: by Alex Greenwich, national convenor of Australian Marriage Equality.