AS the debate and seemingly delayed march towards marriage equality in Australia continues, voices of support – in particularly from conservative supporters – are more vital than ever in making it a reality.
During his time as the Liberal-National Party’s state MP for Brisbane Central, an LGBTI-centric electorate, Robert Cavallucci was a vocal supporter of marriage equality within a government — the former Campbell Newman government — that was sometimes criticised for its lack of progressive work for the community.
[showads ad=MREC]A self-described “true liberal conservative”, Cavallucci’s support for marriage equality is squarely based on a belief in personal freedoms and a small government.
“I believe strongly in the rights, responsibilities and freedoms of the individual, and that those rights and privileges that come with being a citizen of this country are applied equally under the law,” Cavallucci told the Star Observer.
“We need to continually take steps to remove bigotry and discrimination so that each of us can live our lives in a way that we can find meaning and purpose and to love who we choose.”
Conservatives who back marriage equality sometimes find themselves facing questions as to why they’ve adopted that position. Cavallucci believes that needed to stop.
“The reverse, ‘why you don’t’ [support marriage equality] should really be the default question,” he said.
Now working for a professional services firm, Cavallucci still advocates for LGBTI rights within the corporate world and generally believes that for marriage equality to succeed, it can’t just be an issue for the left to dominate.
“To suggest that only the Left are interested in this, I think is to not understand the issue at all,” he said.
“This issue should be beyond politics but sadly it’s not, because that’s what the left do best, they hijack important issues and convert them into their mishmash of political causes of the day.
“Conservative supporters are not brought alongside with common purpose, instead they are ridiculed and excluded because of their politics, they are not welcome at rallies and marches.”
Cavallucci believes it is a matter of winning supporters over to the pro-marriage equality side that will eventually ensure its success.
“Once you move someone from the ‘against’ position to either one of the other two, it’s a one directional flow, they don’t go back,” he said.
“But to get people into that most important and largest ‘I don’t care’ group means bringing the whole community with you, you won’t achieve this by shouting, marching, assigning blame to someone or pointing their fingers at them in the mean time.
“You can’t preach ‘love and equality’ through a platform of venom and hate, the community doesn’t buy it.”
Cavallucci was one of a few voices from the former Newman government that openly supported same-sex marriage. Those voices are seemingly absent from the current Queensland Liberal-National opposition, with one MP speaking out against the issue recently.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Clevelend state Coalition MP Mark Robinson accused federal politicians of grandstanding for marriage equality and described homosexuality initially as a “choice” – a comment he later clarified as something than can be a choice – and that it may lead to polygamy.
Cavallucci would not comment on Robinson’s remarks but said his colleague had always treated him with respect.
“Just like he never made personal judgements about my position, I will not make personal judgements about his,” Cavallucci said.
However, the former MP did warn of arguments against marriage equality that espoused supposed detrimental effects on children or religious freedoms.
“As much as I support an individual’s rights to put forward a particular position on an issue, when you sit down and undertake healthy debate and flesh those points out, you quickly discover those positions are based primarily on ignorance, ingrained bigotry, complete distortion of the facts or based on a logic that defies the reasonable person test,” he said.
“That’s the thing about democracy, we have to work through differing points of view, educate, inform and bring people on for the ride if you want their support.”
Cavallucci also expressed disappointment with how the Abbott Government was handling marriage equality, specifically its rejection of a free vote and the current consideration of a plebiscite.
“Whilst I do understand the reasons behind it, the clear policy the Coalition took to the last election was that they would not amend the marriage act this term, I still am generally pretty disappointed for the community,” he said.
“We are the party of free votes and an opportunity was missed for individual MP’s to vote according to their conscience and the wishes of their electorates.
“In my view it should have been a matter for the parliament. As a believer in democracy, I am not however against a plebiscite.
“There are strongly held views on either side of this debate, we all now have an opportunity to debate our respective cases with all Australians. Each of us now has a choice to decide how they want to define marriage.”[showads ad=FOOT]