WE SAY: OK to debate marriage equality issue, but not the person

The sight of hundreds of people in bright colours, spreading a message of love and happiness in Beechworth is exactly what the same-sex marriage debated needed this weekend.

There was always going to be a big divide in opinions between those who passionately supported the “yes” and “no” campaigns in the postal survey.

But the arguments, as predicted, have sometimes drifted into personal attacks.

Members of the gay and lesbian community have had their desire to marry their partners compared to bestiality, while priests have complained they were being branded as bigots because they did not want the institution of marriage to change.

These comments will be of course supported by those who strongly agree with the views, but their minds are already made up, so the only real outcome will be pain for those on the receiving end.

People who turned out in Beechworth on Sunday were not specifically marching for the “yes” campaign – although you would be hard-pressed to find someone there who had voted no – but for the cause of celebrating all diversity.

They wanted young LGBTI people to know they were accepted and supported, a message many would probably need to hear right about now.

“No matter where people are from, what they believe or who they love, we’re all equal, we celebrate differences,” event organiser Tania Sutton said. 

Congratulations to those involved for seeing the need to spread a bit of love and doing something about.

Whether it is writing stories in the media, posting comments on Facebook or talking directly to those people impacted, we all need to be cautious about the consequences of our words.

It is one thing to passionately argue for your side, it is not necessary to hurt your opponents while doing so.

Health organisations have reported an influx of LGBTI people seeking support while their lives are on the public agenda.

Farrer MP Sussan Ley said this week a lot of people she had spoken to over the past month just wanted the debate to be over so the country could move on.

While we need to keep talking about this issue to ensure everyone takes their chance to have their say, it seems November 15 – when we find out the result – cannot come soon enough.