End in sight for plebiscite

A MEMBER of Gippsland’s support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people would rather wait years for marriage equality than see a plebiscite go ahead.

Gippsland Rainbow Collective youth representative Brendan Ancilleri maintains a Parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage is the sensible solution.

Speaking to The Express in the wake of Labor’s unanimous caucus vote on Tuesday to block the Coalition’s plebiscite bill, Mr Ancilleri voiced his joy.

But he remained sceptical of the hate campaign against same-sex marriage ending.

“I feel like it’s still going to go on for a little bit, but I don’t think it will be as bad as it may have if the government went ahead with the plebiscite,” Mr Ancilleri said.

Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has publicly described the vote as an expensive and divisive stunt, expected to cost upwards of $160 million.

But Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, the first federal Nationals MP to publicly support same-sex marriage, said he was disappointed Mr Shorten would “deny the Australian people a vote”.

“It is a poor reflection on the Labor Party that it doesn’t have faith in everyday Australians to have a calm and reasonable debate,” Mr Chester said.

“The Coalition made a commitment at the last election to hold a plebiscite, and we received a mandate from the Australian people.

“Successive parliaments have failed to deal with this issue decisively, and the plebiscite is the fairest way to achieve an outcome.

“We put forward a reasonable pathway to resolve this issue and Bill Shorten has decided he is the judge and jury, and he doesn’t trust Gippslanders to have their say.”

Earlier this year the Country Women’s Association Victorian branch became the first CWA state association to vote in favour of marriage equality.

At the time, the Traralgon CWA Evening Branch vowed to write to the Federal Government and request it adopt legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

Traralgon CWA Evening Branch president Kelly Abbott yesterday confirmed the branch had contacted local politicians about enabling gay men and women to marry.

Following Labor’s vote, Ms Abbott said the CWA was “supportive of marriage equality no matter how it gets through”.

“I think it’s more that we want it (same-sex marriage) to get passed,” Ms Abbott said.

“We are apolitical as an organisation – we work with everybody.”

Ms Abbott maintained that progress on the issue was important and said the CWA would continue lobbying the government until same sex-marriage was legalised.

Mr Ancilleri said people should be mindful the fastest way was not always the best way, and called for a respectful debate.

“I personally don’t think our community would like to see others in harm’s way just for their happiness,” Mr Ancilleri said.

“I think we’d rather wait for it (same-sex marriage) and for it to be respectful and the way we’re meant to have it without having the hateful, possible deadly campaign.”