Rodney Croome: Marriage builds bridges
One overlooked feature of the marriage equality debate is the level of co-operation it has fostered in the LGBTI community.
Groups and individuals who were once suspicious or openly hostile now sit shoulder to shoulder pressing the case for reform.
I’ve seen Green, Labor and Liberal-aligned gays sink their differences in the pursuit of a common cause.
I’ve seen gays and lesbians make way for bisexual, transgender and intersex people to tell their stories about discrimination, including in marriage.
I’ve seen advocates from groups that have been treading on each other’s toes for decades work constructively together for the first time.
I’ve seen new links of respect and friendship made between states and between regions within states.
Of course there’s still disagreement, discrimination and disrespect.
But if you need any more evidence that the marriage equality campaign has brought us together, just look at the equivalent campaign in the US.
The rivalry and distrust between different interest groups within the LGBTI community has threatened to derail the issue.
They have caused such damage that pro-equality leaders like New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, have had to step in and knock people’s heads together.
There’s different reasons the Australian marriage campaign has built bridges (as marriage should).
Part of it is political. While opposition to marriage equality has little popular appeal, it has its hands firmly around the throats of our national leaders.
In the face of this frustrating but brittle obstacle, solidarity is the obvious response.
Part of it is personal. Leaders of the Australian movement, like Alex Greenwich and Shelley Argent, are charismatic figures who inspire trust and loyalty in others.
I guess this means the unity brought by marriage will probably fade.
Once reform is achieved and the campaign’s leaders move on, it’s all too possible that the old divisions may return.
But at least those of us who lived through this moment in history know that cooperation is possible.
If and when divisions re-emerge, we can look back and say this doesn’t have to happen – we have worked together before and we can again.