Campaspe Shire throws support behind same sex marriage

UPDATE 1.30pm: The councillor who moved the motion in support of same-sex marriage at Wednesday night’s Campaspe Shire council meeting, Kristen Munro, said the move came in response to the rising profile of the issue among constituents.

“We did have a youth forum held back in May and that was with a lot of our high school kids in the area and it was one of the things they flagged as being one of the most important things for their age which was a bit of a surprise, we thought they would be looking at social media issues and bullying, but they were all about marriage equality and equity in the community,” she said.

Cr Munro said while the power to change marriage laws lay with the federal government, as the level of government “closest to their local communities” municipalities had a role to play in passing constituents’ views up the chain.

“From out view point as discussions of it have come about we’ve had a lot of community members contact us that are in the LGBTI community so from a council point of view, one of our roles is to advocate on behalf of the community, which is the whole reason we put it up,” she said.

And as a mother-of-four who had same sex attracted friends and family members who had struggled with acceptance in the past, Cr Munro also said the motion was also about improving things for the next generation.

“I’ve got four kids myself and certainly none of them have come out and said they are same sex attracted but I would like to think they are in an environment today where they could come out and say ‘This is who we are’ and we would love them the same because it doesn’t alter who they are and the value they can add to the community,” she said.

EARLIER: The Campaspe Shire has thrown its support behind the push to legalise same-sex marriage, formally voting to “publicly support marriage equality irrespective of sex, gender identity or sex characteristics” at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

The three part motion, put forward by Echuca ward councillor, Kristen Munro, will also see the shire write to all federal politicians advising them of its stance and advocating for the Marriage Act to be changed.

Shire resident, Cris Todd, who spoke in favour of the motion prior to the vote, said the move was a symbolically important one in a traditionally conservative area where LGBTI people often ended up moving away because they “don’t feel like they can be who they are”.

“It’s been an area where there isn’t much support and it’s about time that the shire – even though it doesn’t change the law – came forward publicly to say ‘We support all the people that live within our shire, regardless of sexual orientation and people should be equal under the law’,” he said.

Mr Todd said one councillor spoke against the motion based on feedback from his constituents but the debate was conducted respectfully, with most councillors acknowledging widespread support for the move within the community.

“That councillor was simply saying he was speaking against the motion just on behalf of the people that had contacted him or the shire to say they don’t support this and then basically every other shire councillor pretty much spoke in favour and acknowledged that they are elected by the people to represent everybody,” he said.

“I think it got knocked back a couple of years ago and one of the councillors said then it was knocked back because really no one had come forward, but since then it’d been a clear direction where people had come to them and said they’re in support of marriage equality.”

Mr Todd said he would be voting yes in the upcoming postal plebiscite and encouraged others to also seize the opportunity for change and force the government to act.

“As much as people don’t feel they should have to downgrade their lives and relationships for this stupid vote, it’s what we have to do unfortunately,” he said.

The move comes as the campaign to get out the yes vote kicks off at the Bendigo Trades Hall in View Street from 6.30pm tonight.