This Friday, 27 October is the last day to get our marriage equality postal surveys into the mail to guarantee they will be counted in the tally.
Right now, if you are Australian and registered to vote, you will be in possession of a marriage equality survey form, unless you have already posted it back (yay you!). Reports from last week indicate that two thirds of voters have already returned their forms. However, a much less encouraging statistic suggests that 40% of 18-30 year olds have not returned theirs. The battle now is against complacency or the too easy tendency to let fiddly bureaucratic tasks slide by. Now is the time to remind anyone you know who has not made it to the post box, that this is something that makes a real difference to real people.
The Irish went through something similar two years ago, though in that case it was an actual vote, and the result was a constitutional change and legally binding. I asked my friend Pádraic Whyte, who was instrumental to the ‘Yes’ campaign there, for advice on how to approach the issue. He mentioned that it is important to always close the gate when leaving a property when door-knocking (thanks, P!), but his crucial point, I feel, lies in this summary: “I suppose it’s about creating a narrative of compassion (because we all want to be seen as compassionate), ensuring that those who are still on the fence feel like they are being listened to, and bring them on board by saying they can do something good, they can make a difference, that you need their help to be allowed to marry the person you love. It’s not about trying to convince those that have already decided to vote no – it’s capturing those on the fence and encouraging them to make the effort to post in their vote.”
Yes, this should be a straightforward civil liberties issue. There simply should be no right extended to one portion of our population, and arbitrarily denied to another. The ‘No’ side has been reduced to lying in all their campaign material, simply because if they stick to what is true, they have no case. And yet, humans are so rarely swayed by sense. A “narrative of compassion” may be the key here. At present we are all spending so much anxious time able to see so much wrong being given so much free rein, yet feeling helpless, and that there is nothing we can do that will correct the path we are on. This is a chance for a rare moment of feeling empowered to make something right. Putting your ‘Yes’ vote into the mail is something we can all do that has to be listened to, that we know will make a change for the good in who we are as a nation.
Because this is a postal survey, the real danger is people not returning their forms, as it is just the kind of task that is all too easy to let slide. So if you know anyone who still has a survey waiting to be put in the post, please talk to them today. Right now.
Pádraic made the video below with his lovely parents. It was shared everywhere during the Irish YES campaign, and its message is just as clear for us now as it was then: