Critical research in marriage equality will create change
The marriage equality research commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, conducted by Crosby/Textor and released last week both records and creates a shift in the marriage equality debate.
The shift it records is a rise in support for marriage equality, not only above levels previously known in Australia, but beyond levels apparent anywhere in the world.
This rise translates to majority support in every demographic including older people, people of faith and people in rural areas.
What’s more, the research shows the Australian people firmly reject civil unions as a substitute for marriage equality and have no time at all for the argument that marriage, religion or children will be harmed by the reform.
This is a truly remarkable achievement only a decade after support for marriage equality was a low 38%.
It is even more remarkable given how many political leaders have demonised, trivialised or failed to stand up for marriage equality over the last ten years.
What is responsible for the change are the countless conversations between ordinary Australians about why same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
These conversations have been encouraged and informed by the grass roots work of groups like AME.
Our recent forums and workshops in places like Geelong and Colac are a good example.
Beneath the headline figures, the Crosby/Textor research says it is vital we continue grass roots campaigning if we are to achieve marriage equality.
As for creating a shift in the marriage equality debate, the research is already having an important impact.
Political strategists are absorbing its implications, not least that marriage equality is more than twice as popular as the government.
Individual MPs are also learning about the result in their region, with some genuinely surprised by how much they under-estimated support for marriage equality.
Commentators who previously overlooked the issue are now asking why it hasn’t been resolved.
Already, the research has prompted Coalition members to discuss a conscience vote and engage more closely with the issue.
It’s too early to say exactly when there will be a Coalition conscience vote on marriage equality or what will spark it.
But I have no doubt that when it happens the Crosby/Textor research will be credited as a critical point along the path.