“In the future I envision, we are not defined by ethnicity. We are enriched by it, certainly. But it is never a measure of our value as individuals.”
These wise words were part of Hillcrest High School’s Naomi Kumar’s winning speech at the national Race Unity competition.
We could equally well say that we should not be defined solely by our sexuality. It is part of us certainly but it is never a measure of our value as individuals.
The Marriage Amendment Bill which passed last week legalised same sex marriage but had important broader benefits.
· The conscience vote in parliament and publicity on the issue gave greater visibility to those who are often marginalised and discriminated against. Their personal stories, sometimes bravely told, gave us a greater understanding of their everyday reality and experience and the need for change.
· A strength of the campaign was the involvement of young people across the political spectrum. For many it was their first engagement with the political process.
· Locally, the Legalise Love group campaigned with commitment, style and energy along with savvy use of social media. They showed us it is possible to campaign for a serious issue and have some fun along the way. Importantly, their group included people across the sexuality spectrum. This made their advocacy powerful and compelling.
As a result of the campaign and passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill, people in the gay and lesbian community are now better able to stand tall in our community. It is time.