Shepparton’s most vocal LGBTI campaigner Damien Stevens has a message for Liberal MPs heading to Canberra to discuss marriage equality — get it done now.
The Goulburn Valley Pride spokesman was confident marriage equality would happen very soon and he has already set a date and booked a venue for his own wedding with his long-term partner next year.
‘‘Our wedding is scheduled for the 14th of April, and we have chosen that date because by then we firmly believe marriage equality will have passed,’’ Mr Stevens said.
The impasse on marriage equality is set to come to a head in Canberra today as Liberal Party MPs sit down to discuss what to do next on the divisive issue.
The Coalition went to last year’s election with a policy to hold a plebiscite on the issue, asking all Australians of voting age if they support a change to the current definition of marriage.
Those plans were blocked in the senate in November last year, after Bill Shorten indicated the Labor Party would not support such a move.
Mr Stevens believes the planned plebiscite is a delaying tactic and a public campaign on the issue could have negative impacts on the LGBTI community.
He said he believed a plebiscite would show a majority of Australians supported marriage equality, but it could be harmful and hurtful for LGBTI people.
‘‘When you have people likening homosexuality to paedophilia or implying that families with two mums are less nurturing, you are putting information out there that LGBTI people are less than equal,’’ he said.
The push for a conscience vote has been supported by a number of backbench MPs, including Western Australian senator Liberal Dean Smith, who has declared his intention to introduce a private member’s bill on the issue.
Some Liberal MPs indicated they could cross the floor and support a marriage equality bill, against the policy of only supporting change if a plebiscite is successful.