It’s from unlikely quarters we often find support for our causes forthcoming.

Late last month, in the red dusty outcrops of Red Cliffs in north-western Victoria, Helen Nicholas publicly stood up for her gay son Leigh, saying he should have the same rights as her other children to marry.

Located just south of Mildura, Red Cliffs sits deep in National Party heartland. At the last federal election John Forrest romped in with 71 percent of the two-party vote. It’s fair to assume the area is one of the most conservative in the country.

Last month the Mildura branch of the Labor Party passed a motion in favour of same-sex marriage, an issue Forrest is openly contemptuous of.

He refused to consult the electorate during this year’s parliamentary report-back, saying he wasn’t going to waste his energy because he knows what the majority thinks.
But does he?

In a letter to The Sunraysia Daily, Nicholas proved her local MP hasn’t been listening too hard.

“It is very easy to dismiss the gay marriage issue when it doesn’t impact on you or your family directly — something very comforting about being part of the straight majority and not having to give it too much thought,” Nicholas wrote.

“The reality is gay children are born every day, as they have been in the past and will be in the future.

“The impact [of allowing same-sex marriage] on sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of everyday Australians who just happen to be gay would, however, be enormous.”

In a poll of 1445 Sunraysia Daily readers, 56 percent said they were in favour of gay marriage, with 44 percent against.

While admittedly an imprecise measure, the result blasts Forrest’s claims.

It’s important not to put on the rose-coloured glasses. Incidents of self harm among same-sex attracted teens are still far too high in rural areas, but the poll offers a glimmer of hope.

It’s no longer good enough for people to assume other people’s opinions on LGBTI issues, much less our parliamentary representatives. Forrest needs to rethink his head-in-the-sand approach because, clearly, same-sex marriage has its supporters on all sides of politics.

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