Marriage equality gets support in Thornlands, from Andrew Laming’s neighbours


Locals in semi-rural Thornlands are being asked to sign “Yes” or “No” petitions on marriage equality

A GROUP OF residents in the federal electorate of Bowman in South East Queensland – currently held by Andrew Laming for the Liberal Party – is petitioning locals about their views on marriage equality.

They began in the semi-rural Redlands suburb of Thornlands, in the streets around Mr Laming’s place of residence.

Labor’s candidate for the seat of Bowman, Kim Richards, is also a resident of Thornlands.

The Rainbow flag Photo: Benson Kua

The Rainbow flag Photo: Benson Kua

“Marriage equality always seemed fairly contentious in this region, which made starting in those streets a little challenging,” said Michael Burge, a Bowman resident of nearby Coochiemudlo Island. “But there’s an old saying about wanting something badly enough, meaning you have to get out there and ask for it, so that’s what we decided was the best course of action”.

“We are a group of locals called ‘Redlands Residents – Your Voice on Marriage Equality’ – and we offered people a chance to sign either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ petition.

“The initial results have been very heartening.

“The overwhelming majority of respondents signed ‘yes’ in support of changing the federal Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry; whereas a couple of people preferred to sign ‘no’ to show they’re happy with leaving things the way they are.”

Andrew Laming wants a plebiscite

In June 2015, Mr Laming was interviewed on an episode of Network Ten’s news program The Project. When asked about including same-sex marriage in his annual survey on his constituents’ views on a variety of national and local issues, he was clear:

You can’t go anywhere in a community in Australia and ask this question about the definition of same-sex marriage without getting heated responses on both sides. I’ve asked my electorate, every year, this question, and it comes back almost 50:50.

It’s a highly divisive and complicated issue, so I want to see, once again, my electorate having a say; and I’ve said to them, if they vote this time, and they go one way or another, that’s how I would like to vote in parliament on their behalf.

“I will be open-minded,” Mr Laming said.

Mr Laming has included the issue of marriage equality in his annual electorate surveys for the past five years. Most times he has found that those against change slightly outnumber those how want equality but in 2015 his said that 58% of respondents wanted no change.

Speaking in Parliament on 12 August he defended the Coalition policy of having a national plebiscite.

Kim Richards says the community is not divided

Kim Richards, Labor candidate for Bowman, says suggestions that marriage equality is a 50:50 red hot topic are a beat up. She said:

As a Thornlands resident for over 20 years I have not seen any strong evidence that suggests our community is divided on the issue of marriage equality.

It is reasonable to suggest that polling conducted by Mr Laming is not representative of our Bowman community with a number of deficiencies in his survey methodology.

Ms Richards says that Labor has committed to legislating for marriage equality within the first 100 days of Government.

“We know that Australians don’t want a Plebiscite on Marriage Equality, they want a Government that will get on with the job,” she said.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently estimated that a stand-alone plebiscite on same-sex marriage could cost the Australian economy $525 million.

Is it a highly divisive issue?

Mr Burge said the early 2016 petition results did not reveal the kind of division Mr Laming spoke of in 2015.

“We were not met with a sense of this being a 50:50, red-hot topic, far from it. The most passionate responses were from many who voted ‘yes’ and were keen to underline how overdue marriage equality legislation is.

Mike Burge

Redlands residents Richard Moon and Michael Burge door-knocking in Thornlands

“I wondered how I would feel, as an out gay man living in this community with my husband, Richard, when someone asked to sign the ‘no’ option; but we feel it’s important this petition offers something to everyone with an opinion either way.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal ‘no’ responses, and the polite, neutral way the ‘no’ petition was asked for.

“There was no sense of division in Thornlands on the days we petitioned in the area.

“On the contrary, there was a clear early trend: that marriage equality has the same majority support, very close to home for Mr Laming, as it does everywhere in the country whenever people are given a free and open say.

“Crosby-Textor polling on marriage equality does not match the results Mr Laming came up with during his 2015 survey,” Mr Burge said.

“Nationally, support for marriage equality is at a record high, with a majority in all regions of Queensland. These new results from Mr Laming’s suburb are in line with that clear support for altering the Marriage Act to give access to same-sex couples.

“Perhaps, under a new Prime Minister, and with a public vote on marriage equality in the pipeline, there has been a shift in thinking in the Redlands,” Mr Burge said.

Redlands Residents – Your Voice on Marriage Equality is a Facebook group that was set up in June 2015 as a response to the national attention garnered by Mr Laming’s survey. A well-attended marriage equality rally in Cleveland was also organised, supported by national lobby group Australian Marriage Equality.

Workshop on 9 April at The Red Place

The group will co-host a workshop with Australian Marriage Equality at The Red Place, 99 Bloomfield Street, Cleveland, on Saturday, April 9, from 10am-1pm, for anyone wanting to assist in gathering signatures on the 2016 petition. Door-knocking and petitioning rules and tips, and a light lunch, will be shared on the day, and petition forms handed out.

Find and ‘like’ ‘Redlands Residents – Your Voice on Marriage Equality’ on Facebook for all the details.

Anyone over the age of 18 and registered to vote in the federal seat of Bowman in postcodes 4157, 4158, 4159, 4160, 4161, 4163, 4164, 4165, 4183, 4184 is eligible to sign the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ petition, which will be distributed in person throughout the region across April before being presented to Federal MP for Bowman, Andrew Laming.

Update 10 April

Collecting signatures for the marriage equality petitions

Collecting signatures for the petitions

The petition kicked off this week with a group of locals meeting at a workshop in Cleveland on Saturday April 9th, co-hosted by ‘Redlands Residents – Your Voice on Marriage Equality’ and Australian Marriage Equality, before hitting the streets of central Cleveland and petitioning Bowman residents for their opinions.

The team then moved to East Cleveland for a few hours of door-knocking. After collecting over two hundred responses, by the end of the day the trend was clear, with a majority of ‘yes’ signatures in support of marriage equality at a ratio of seven to one against the ‘no’ votes.


Redlands2030 – 30 March 2016

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18 thoughts on “Marriage equality gets support in Thornlands, from Andrew Laming’s neighbours

  1. Using the term ‘marriage equality’ in any plebiscite or referendum on same sex marriage questions will confuse people absolutely with the ultimate end result.

    • There is no push to insert the term “marriage equality” into the plebiscite question. Right now, there isn’t even a movement to have a plebiscite. The $160m was not budgeted for by the government in the forward estimates, and if we don’t see it on a Budget line on May 3, we can safely assume it’s been kicked past the long grass into the never-never. Regardless of the government’s non action, we are petitioning Bowman electorate voters on changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples equal access. There’s a bit of obfuscation around, but we’re just keeping it simple, taking signatures from anyone with a strong view for or against.

  2. All liberal and national sitting members are hiding behind what they hope is the ignorance of their electorates to push a particular factions agenda. I would love to see the petitions these guys hawked around and how the progressed them and run it through my own representatives electorate.

    • Great, Tex, come along to the workshop on April 9 at The Red Place, 99 Bloomfield Street, 10am to 1pm. Petitions will be handed out there. Check out ‘Redlands Residents – Your Voice on Marriage Equality’ on Facebook for more details.

  3. Still scratching my head over this article.
    Was it about a social issue, or about Thornlands and who lives there, or Federal member Andrew Laming?
    I’m sure Federal member has his mind occupied with a pressing Bowman matter: how to inform Minister Greg Hunt of the ramifications of the State and Local government’s approval to dump colossal amounts of spoil into a Ramsar site if the Toondah project in its current form goes ahead.
    Even our fishing fraternity will be concerned there.
    I’m sure there will be a response from our elected federal member.

    • Big Boy, there are plenty of issues Redlanders are concerned about. Luckily marriage equality is budget-neutral and it’ll be a free kick for whichever politicians finally kick this political football over the line. Plenty of marriage equality advocates support more than one social and environmental cause at a time, and if our pollies don’t multitask, why are we paying them the big bucks??? I’d like to see Mr Laming protect this Ramsar site AND support marriage equality (and other stuff), all in one big multi-tasking moment…. or should we get Kim Richards in to do the job?

  4. I have no problem with legalising same sex marriage but marriage equality? Not sure what that means. I just don’t think same sex and not same sex marriage should be in the same basket? Are they not different? Can’t we have an Option A and an Option B and they are both legal?

    • It’s all about treating everyone equally, because after all Love is Love. Would you be prepared to do away with your “marriage”, and instead have it called something else? How would this make you feel knowing your love was not good enough to be called a marriage and not considered identical to the love of all other people. When people are in love they get married – simple!

    • Many people struggle with the meaning of marriage equality, Dave. For me, there is no such thing as partial equality – it either exists, or it doesn’t. If you’re interested in saying no to marriage equality in our petition, and you’re a Bowman electorate voter, you’re very welcome to express your views to Mr Laming, who will be the recipient of the document at the end of April.

      • So, still doesn’t help me Michael. If I don’t know the meaning of ‘marriage equality’, I am unlikely to know the meaning of “partial equality’?

      • Only you can work out your conundrum for yourself, Dave. I’ll bow out and leave you to it.

      • I think if one looks at the mechanics of marriage, Michael, one misses the point. This is I believe where you are getting unstuck with your definition of equality. If one looks at the spirit, rather than the mechanics, it becomes a no-brainer. My 25 year monogamous relationship with the man I love becomes, then, every bit as valid and hence the equal of the average 7 year long marriage. In fact it leads the way in a few important points such as equality of partnership, where there is no submissive nor dominant partner necessarily. And this is the mechanics issue I’m talking about. People feel that they be forced to become the equal of their partner, domestic duties might be evenly shared, child rearing may not remain women’s work. These I think are the things that those opposing change cannot comprehend, but here’s the good news. It needn’t. People can choose the individual dynamic of their marriage, just as they always have. Woman who are doormats can choose to remain with abusive men. Whilst others can still divvy up the lawn mowing and the cooking as traditional cisgender roles. I don’t think in that sense, people opposed to the words marriage equality need worry about it, it is the spirit of the institution that would be equal, never, and nor has it ever been, the mechanics.

      • I’m happy with my definition of marriage equality, Tex. As you rightly said, it’s all about choice.

    • Thanks Damien, yes, it seems there has been some political myth-making going on, but there are plenty of views in the electorate of Bowman, so we’ll see how our petition goes.

  5. If any of our children or grandkids were gay, we would not want any less for them than their other brothers or sisters. Of course they should be allowed to marry the person they love regardless of their sex. Mr Laming is out of touch and does not speak for anyone in our extended family.

  6. My daughters tell me, if I try real hard, I’ll be half as good as my wife. I don’t have a problem With that. We have equality in our marriage ?

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