Armidale still undecided on marriage equality

MARRIAGe EQUALITY: Campaigners Janine Middleton and Tiernan Brady visited Armidale with a message of tolerance, freedom and acceptance.
MARRIAGe EQUALITY: Campaigners Janine Middleton and Tiernan Brady visited Armidale with a message of tolerance, freedom and acceptance.

IF marriage equality were put to a vote in Armidale, its fate would hang in the balance.

In a poll conducted by The Express, only 53.38 per cent of voters believed it was time for marriage equality.

The Marriage Equality Forum on Wednesday was attended by less than 30 people, but the small numbers were more than made up for in passion.

Campaigner Janine Middleton became involved in the cause two and a half years ago after Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe came out as gay.

“I kept crying, I thought about it and I realised the reason I was crying was because I was so proud of him,” she said.

“I was crying because someone like Ian Thorpe, who anyone in this country would invite in for a tea and biscuit, was afraid to come out.”

When Mrs Middleton began she felt marriage equality campaigners were talking in their own echo chamber, they needed to broaden the conversation – so she took it to corporate Australia.

A list of businesses who supported marriage equality were compiled for the Australian Marriage Equality campaign website.

“Young people do care who they work for,” she said.

“There are gay and lesbian teenagers across this country having concerns about their situation, if having the names of businesses that support them on our website makes them feel a little less isolated – that is worth doing.

“In boardrooms across this country they had to have the conversation about marriage equality and that has been very powerful.”

More than 60 per cent of Australians support marriage equality.

Mrs Middleton said it was important that people in rural and regional areas continued to tell their stories.

“Rural voices and regional voices are even more powerful, because Barnaby Joyce said this was an Oxford Street issue but we know from the numbers we see that this is something everybody cares about,” she said.

“It touches everybody across this country.”