WITH only one day remaining to get enrolment details sorted, the same-sex marriage debate is heating up in our town.
The government’s contentious postal plebiscite has ignited debate and has drawn commentary from all facets of the Heathcote and district community.
A deeply personal issue at both ends of the spectrum, many believe the vote is an unnecessary and expensive judgement on people’s relationships.
While others believe every Australian should have their say on whether the Marriage Act should be altered.
Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said it was time the federal politicians did their job and changed the “outdated” Marriage Act.
“I strongly believe Central Victorians want the parliament to get on with marriage equality. They want their politicians to do what they were elected to do,” she said. “We are now at a stage where the vast majority of Australians — over 70 per cent — support marriage equality.”
Ms Chesters said whom a person loves and whom they choose to marry are deeply personal issues.
She said the postal vote places unfair pressures on one group of Australians to justify their relationships.
“This survey is hurtful and an attack on basic human rights and freedoms.”
“It is putting a minority group on a national stage and the Australian public are now asked to deem if these relationships are valid.
“We cannot allow this survey to be used as an excuse to attack LGBTIQ people, their families and their children. I urge all members of the community to debate and campaign with respect.
“I understand the sense of frustration LGBTIQ Central Victorians must be feeling right now. That’s why it is so important for us to vote and show our support for these families and vote yes.
“Voting yes is not about endorsing this postal survey — it’s about refusing to walk past our fellow Australians when they need us.”
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said she intends to vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
“I encourage people to make sure their details are correct on the electoral role to ensure they have an opportunity to vote,’’ she said.
‘‘I also urge people passionate about the outcome of the vote to be respectful of other’s views.”
Heathcote’s Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church father Peter Ferwerda said same-sex marriage is against natural and divine law.
“The teaching of our church is that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
“Everything in nature is ordered and God has created it with purpose. He created men and women specifically for companionship and for reproduction.”
Fr Ferwerda said people who live gay lifestyles are welcome in his church but he cannot teach that their lifestyle is normal or acceptable for a Christian.
“I would rather have a referendum so the people’s decision is binding on the politicians. People should have a definite view that has to be taken on by parliament,” he said.
“However, I believe it is a good idea for all Australians to have a say on the issue.
“Even if the people said there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage, the church has to stick to what it believes.”
Heathcote’s Tanya Brnjak said not everyone is attracted to the opposite sex. “Why should people be told who they should fall in love with or who they should be in a relationship with?” she said.
“The issue is so contentious because there are too many religious people who follow the Bible to the word and don’t allow others to be different.
“A man and a woman can get married with no issues but if two people of the same sex want to get married, the whole world chucks their opinion in.
“The postal vote is a waste of time and money — I would prefer a conscience vote in parliament.”
Redesdale’s Cherry Lauder said she is very supportive of same-sex marriage and believed it made sense in modern society.
“It is bigoted and homophobic conservatives that make the issue contentious,” she said.
“Conservatives fear homosexuality will be viewed as a normal lifestyle.
“The issue should be dealt with via a vote in parliament.”