Having the real conversations

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Sep-2017

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By Harry McAnulty
Co Chair of Bendigo Says Yes Committee  

Over the past month the Bendigo community has galvanised their support for marriage equality. 

Within days of the announcement of the postal survey, more than 100 Bendigonians filled Trades Hall to plan a Yes campaign, and were soon out on the streets encouraging enrolment updates.

The Bendigo Says Yes campaign aims to hold real conversations with people who are unsure about marriage equality. 

Our volunteers are friends, allies and supporters of the LGBTI community. 

They are sharing  their experiences about what marriage equality means to them, and for their friends and family. 

The very fact that this postal survey is happening at all legitimises negative attitudes about people’s love for one another.  

We are already seeing the  harmful effects it is having on the LGBTIQ community across central Victoria, noted by the increased volume of calls to Switchboard, Victoria’s LGBTIQ phone counselling service.

Community leadership on this issue has to date, been fantastic. 

We have seen Bendigo Christian leaders come out in support of marriage equality, followed by the support of the local business community through Be.Bendigo. 

The support of our local and federal members of parliament has also been outstanding. 

Other community institutions such as the Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Service have also made their commitments clear. 

It is fair to say the community has responded quickly and with a positive all-hands-on-deck attitude. 

This reaction will be well-remembered for walking on the right side of marriage equality history.

The campaign continues to work with a wide variety of Bendigo community leaders and we encourage business, sporting groups, health organisations and local government to continue to engage with our campaign in a publicly supportive manner. 

It offers hope and reassurance to a significant section of the Bendigo population currently feeling under attack.

Postal surveys will reach homes across the country between now and September 25. 

We are encouraging everyone to take a picture of them voting Yes and to share on social media and to phone their friends and relatives to talk to them about what marriage equality means. 

We will continue to engage with the Bendigo community in the following weeks, with ongoing listening posts, fundraisers, marches and other activities. 

In times of uncertainty, we recommend people refer to the words of Nobel Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” #BendigoSaysYes 

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