The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) congratulates the Australian Services Union on allowing members to express their views on marriage equality. With 70 percent of the membership in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, the ASU joins a growing chorus line of non-LGBTIQ-specific membership-based organisations calling for change.

Political punters on the left and right agree that the ALP National Conference this December will be a key flashpoint in the campaign for marriage equality.

While many LGBTIQ organisations are mobilising their people, it is mainstream organisations that will play a key role in the campaign. It is too easy to be ignored when we campaign as a front of the ‘usual suspects’.

In the LGBTIQ community, we need to ally ourselves with community organisations, trade unions, business associations, progressive religious organisations, multicultural organisations, social clubs and even sporting groups.

Australia is organised. Every person is connected to everyone else through a web of relationships. We need to tap into this space to strengthen the campaign. We need to become more than just the ‘usual suspects’. Change means changing ourselves too.

Ten years has passed since the Netherlands became the first country in the world to create marriage equality, regardless of the sex or gender of one’s partner. This change sparked a chain reaction of bills tabled before various parliaments across the globe for and against marriage equality. Campaign organisations, for and against marriage equality, began to mobilise their people.

The campaign pitted religious conservatives against LGBTIQ organisations. This battle is not new, but the issue is different. Marriage equality is not like campaigning on suicide prevention or health rights. There are no statistics to show, no university studies to cite. This is about raw equality.

To win on this issue of relationship equality, we need to harness the power of our own relationships.

Mobilisation is not just about public demonstrations. It includes private conversations with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. If you are a member of a union or a business association, a church or a temple, a local sporting or knitting club, it’s time to step up.
Freedoms are won, not given. The work of the lobbyists at party conferences cannot effectively occur without the mobilisation of ordinary people.

Join the Marriage Equality Campaign. Send expressions of interest to glrl@glrl.org.au

Rathana Chea is co-convenor of the NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby

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