Regional communities are too often landed in the ‘opposition’ basket in conversations about marriage equality, according to activist Rodney Croome.
“The stereotype that rural and regional people, and people of faith, oppose marriage equality just isn’t true,” he said.
“The fact I’m in Albury talking to a religious congregation about these issues and receiving a warm welcome proves those stereotypes have no basis.”
The 2015 Tasmanian Australian of the Year spoke at MAMA on Saturday about his fight to make marriage legal for same-sex couples.
“There were some same-sex partners there, but mostly heterosexual people interested in the issue and wanting to find ways to contribute to the cause,” he said.
“My first word of advice to them was to talk about why this issue is important to their friends and families.
“The polls show the majority of Australians support marriage equality but we can’t be complacent.
“It’s important supporters are doing all they can to change the hearts and minds of people around them.
“My second piece of advice was contact Sussan Ley and tell her why it’s important.”
Mr Croome also spoke at the Sunday service at St Matthew’s.
“As with most congregations across Australia, some people support marriage equality and some people don’t,” he said.
“The most important thing is they were willing to listen to my perspective.
“It’s a stereotype to assume that all Christians oppose marriage equality, it’s not the case at all.”
Mr Croone explores the arguments for and against marriage equality in his book, From This Day Forward: Marriage Equality in Australia.
“Most people’s understanding of the issue doesn’t go much further than the slogan equal love or equal rights,” he said.
“The point of the book is to show it’s much deeper than that.
“There’s a human face of this, real people who are affected every day.
“I’ve seen too much discrimination and too much prejudice in my life.”
Mr Croone said he respected not all religious institutions would support same-sex marriage, but those who did should have the legal right.
“In New Zealand, Britain and in many of the other places that have legalised same-sex marriage, rights of people of faith have not been influenced or violated,” he said.
“It just means some people who have been discriminated against and made to feel like outsiders will be brought in from the cold.”