A Shepparton man has set up a petition for same-sex marriage in the face of figures confirmed by local federal Liberal MP Dr Sharman Stone that 98 percent of correspondence to her office is against same-sex marriage — with only nine people for

Uniting Care Cutting Edge community development worker Damien Stevens has since set up an online petition, saying the figure is not representative of Stone’s electorate of Murray.

“She’s been in her safe seat for quite some time and I’m very sure, as she puts it, her focus is about putting food on the table.

“The [feedback] farmers and people give her is very conservative and they are keeping her in her safe seat, therefore I don’t think she’s going to change her opinion in a hurry.”

Stevens said, despite living in an electorally conservative area, he believes the figures have been skewed and he plans to promote his same-sex marriage survey in coming weeks. Currently he has more than 260 online supporters — from a range of electorates — and hopes to get 1000, mostly locals, in favour.

“The people I speak to say I’ve got friends and family and none of them are against same-sex marriage.

“The more people I speak to, most people either don’t have an opinion, or if they have to have an opinion they don’t care, or if they do have an opinion, it’s generally yay, not nay.”

It’s understood most of those against have come from petitions from Catholic and evangelical churchgoers in the area.

Openly gay Tom, 19, from Numurkah told the Star Observer he would like to get married one day and was “disappointed” by the statistics, but said he believes opposition to same-sex marriage is not that strong.

“The facts are being misrepresented,” he said.

Stone has already indicated her opposition to gay marriage telling The Shepparton News recently the “status quo … was a sensible arrangement.”

“If gay couples wish to have something else to recognise their long-term relationship then we need to come up with another word which is respectful of their relationship,” Stone told the newspaper.

“But you can’t change the meaning of the word … when it says in the law it happens between a man and a woman.”

Stone has been clear she is not going out of her way to canvass her electorate, but she has received views since Greens MP Adam Bandt moved a motion calling for MPs to consult their electorates on the issue.

A spokesman from Stone’s office told the Star Observer more views have been received, but a count has not been finalised.

Although official figures on same-sex marriage have not been taken in Murray, Roy Morgan research released last year showed 28.6 percent of the electorate believed homosexuality was immoral — a figure that was midway of all electorates canvassed. However, indicating less support, only 38.2 percent agreed gay couples should adopt children.

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