Same-sex marriage postal vote criticism over cost, results, impact on vulnerable

Darren Ralph has shared his concerns about the government's plan for a postal vote on legalising same-sex marriage. Photo: Gareth Gardner 110817GGA02
Darren Ralph has shared his concerns about the government's plan for a postal vote on legalising same-sex marriage. Photo: Gareth Gardner 110817GGA02

A POSTAL vote on same-sex marriage will waste millions, hurt vulnerable people and produce skewed results, according to members of the region’s gay community.

But they say their biggest fear is that too few people – especially young adults – will make sure to have their say.

So despite their criticism, they’re urging people to register and not underestimate the importance of their vote.

Tamworth man Darren Ralph's take on a same-sex marriage postal ballot

The federal government’s plebiscite bill was defeated again in the Senate this week, prompting it to plan a postal ballot.

That could take place as early as September 12, at a cost of $122 million.

COST VS BENEFIT

Darren Ralph of Tamworth said gay friends had been blamed for the cost when they didn’t even want the ballot.

“We've elected the government to make decisions for us and they should be – one way or the other, yes or no.

“The $122 million can be better spent on nursing, teachers, pensioners, housing – anything, really. There’s no need to be posting out all this for people when it’s non-compulsory and it’s not going to make one difference to the government.”

Tyson Schuman, right, who grew up in Tingha, and partner Daniel now live in Brisbane.

Tyson Schuman, right, who grew up in Tingha, and partner Daniel now live in Brisbane.

Ex-Tingha man Tyson Schuman said he’d also seen gay people copping flack over the cost.

“People think the government is doing this for us, but we’re not wanting them to spend that money … I see it as a waste of time and stuffing our lives about.”

CHANCE TO ATTACK

Mr Schuman, who came out at 21, said it put the gay community back under the spotlight for homophobes to attack.

“Coming to terms with you not being ‘normal’ or considered to not be ‘normal’ … you battle that right through school,” he said.

“Then you leave school and it doesn't change; you just get different aspects of it.

“We’re still seen as the outsiders and sometimes some of the comments do come across as bullying and nasty, and I think people don’t understand the trauma that young gay and lesbian people face.

“Just simple things like walking down the street and seeing straight couples holding hands and you just don’t feel comfortable enough to do the same thing, whether it be staring or comments – and this debate is another layer of that, I guess … 

“I've seen some really disgusting comments, things saying why don't we just cull that part of the population like kangaroos, you know?”

‘OLDER WAYS’

Mr Schuman said a postal ballot was unfair to younger generations in two ways: the method and the results.

He said older people would be both more likely to vote and more likely to vote ‘no’. 

“This day and age, young people are more technology-based, so it’s going to be the older generation receiving these letters that are stuck in older ways,” he said.

“I’m 30 years old so I've got years left of my life, whereas someone, say, of 80 is at the tail end of their lives and they're basically deciding how I live the rest of mine.”

Someone of 80 is at the tail end of their lives and they're basically deciding how I live the rest of mine.

Tyson Schuman

Mr Schuman created a Facebook post, which has been shared widely, “to rally my people”: to impress on his friends, family and other allies how important their vote is.

“A lot of my friends might think these issues are dealt with by other people … [that] it’s going to get sorted and the majority are going to do the right thing, but you never know, I guess,” he said.

“Seeing all these negative comments, I just want to rally my people.

“I just think in their eyes it might be too hard to sign up to place one vote and they don't understand how important that one vote is.”

Mr Ralph said he suspected many people, particularly young people who hadn’t used the post as much as their elders, would just throw it in the bin.

“I’ll certainly be ... posting my vote back, but I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot of people that will just not make a decision.”

YES OR NO?

Although they’d both like to see same-sex marriage legalised in Australia, Mr Ralph and Mr Schuman have different views on marriage for themselves.

“If this was to pass, I personally wouldn't be going through with a same-sex marriage,” Mr Ralph said.

“I believe we already have all the rights of being in a married relationship in relation to a de facto relationship, adoption, Centrelink's view.

“To me it’s just a piece of paper, but I would fully support anyone who wants to go through with it.”

Mr Schuman said he would consider marriage “eventually” but it wasn’t top-of-mind right now.

“For a lot of us in relationships, it kind of seems pointless at the moment,” he said.

“What’s the point in getting engaged when you can’t go that one step further?”