IF only the cards had fallen in a different manner, Sophie York could now be sitting in parliament representing the residents of some of Sydney’s richest suburbs.
Instead, barely a week ago, she burst onto the airwaves as the face of Marriage Alliance, a new group dedicated to ensuring LGBTI Australians never have the right to wed.
[showads ad=MREC]Arguably it’s been a troubled birth for the Marriage Alliance.
Its central motif of a giant iceberg (pictured above), representing same-sex marriage, has been ridiculed online and TV channels Seven and Ten have decided not to run the organisation’s ad campaign.
In contrast, Australian Marriage Equality’s (AME) ads are due to hit screens on Sunday.
According to SBS, Marriage Alliance’s founders include former investment banker Jim Domingiuez and former Liberal party president Professor Ashley Goldsworthy.
However, it’s York who has been front and centre of the campaign.
“The view of the Marriage Alliance is that permitting same-sex couples to marry would have major consequences not realised or understood by most Australians,” York stated last week.
A trained barrister, York has been a campaigner for the Liberals. The party’s logo is featured prominently on her personal website even though she doesn’t hold any political office.
Not that she hasn’t tried.
In 2009, York stood for pre-selection for the federal electorate of Bradfield on Sydney’s north shore, a safe seat for the Liberals.
At the time, News Corp columnist Miranda Devine – herself no fan of marriage equality – said York was “part of a new breed of conservative feminists, generous and warm but with courage and a steely intellect“.
In a crowded field, York lost the bid for the electorate of former Liberal leader Brenden Nelson to Optus executive Paul Fletcher.
York has also served in the navy and has written a book about Australian medical teams helping in Indonesia following the Boxing Day tsunami.
Her website boasts that “Sophie is not afraid to ask the difficult questions and… be heard with a powerful voice of considered reason”.
It goes on to say that “when Sophie talks: people listen”.
Talking to the Justinian Archive around the time of the Bradfield pre-selection bid, York said one of her pet hates was “people who claim to be open-minded but are only receptive to ideas if you adopt their world view”.
She also revealed she had read books by rapper 50 Cent and that if she could be a food stuff it would be a “pâté en terrine”.
York did not respond to numerous requests from the Star Observer to explain what drove her to be the face of Marriage Alliance — or if she still wanted to be reborn as a meat dish served with crackers.
However, talking to 2GB this week, York said she “didn’t think twice” about fronting the campaign and suggested marriage was a “freedom” that was under attack — despite current proposals to extend the Marriage Act to gay couples not touching on that.
“Anything that looks like it might encroach on our basic human freedom is something that is going to really resonate with a lot of people,” she said.
“If, for example, they felt changing the definition [of marriage] affected their freedom to have an opinion or a freedom to have a conscience about something… What will be the rights of parents, teachers, the rights of children, what will the surrogacy laws bearing in mind that men and two women can’t create a child?
“What will freedom of speech rules be?”
The Marriage Alliance has also claimed pro-equality campaigners are using “bully tactics” with York adding: “Ordinary people are alarmed that important public figures are either staying silent on the issue, or backing a misguided ‘politically correct’ position rather than encouraging open discussion.”
AME deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh told the Star Observer that discussion on the issue had been going on for over a decade and Marriage Alliance was “attempting to play the victim”.
He said the campaign was a “desperate attempt” to “defend” the Marriage Act and “clearly Australians aren’t buying what they’re selling”.[showads ad=FOOT]