Yesterday I had the privilege to speak at the marriage equality rally in Brisbane, eight years after the Howard government, with Labor support, amended the Marriage Act to exclude same sex couples. Because it was the middle of the day, I was sun smart, wearing an Akubra. The funniest thing was that several people did not recognise me because of my hat! One guy, who was also wearing an Akubra, gave me the thumbs up when he saw me!
I was given the job of being the first speaker, and asked to speak for no more than 5 minutes.
As the first speaker, I thought that my job would be to gee up the crowd, and have some calls to action. So I tried to do this.
I said that as a person growing up in Australia, I had always considered that we were all equal, and as a lawyer that a fundamental principle was that we all were equal under the law.
I said that the changes to the Marriage Act 8 years ago meant that the Government could decide whether or not we were able to marry the person we loved, depending on our sexuality.
I said that the Newman Government has similarly proposed to change Queensland's surrogacy laws, so that for the first time in our history a right was going to be taken away, and that this was, in the words of a client of mine, the "government playing God": determining who can and who can't be a parent, simply decided by relationship status and sexuality. Picking winners and losers, by an arbitrary method.
I said that if we as a society are to be equal, then we all have the right to be equal and we should be able to marry the person we love, and we should be able to have children without interference from government.
Healthy Communities President, Mark Morein
I challenged the crowd to take action about marriage equality- asking each and every one present to contact their Federal MP and let the MP know about how they felt about marriage equality. If they hadn't done so, why not?
I also challenged the crowd to take action about the proposed surrogacy changes, and to let their State MP know how they felt. Again, if they hadn't done so, why not?
I said that politicians listen to numbers, and the more people who let their MP's know their feelings, the better.
I encouraged those present to sign the petition that called for the proposals to amend surrogacy laws in Queensland to be scrapped, but reminding them that they can only sign once.
We would not have been amused.