How To Convince A “No” Voter To Vote “Yes” On Marriage Equality

A few simple tips and tricks.

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So, it’s really happening. The postal-survey-that-is-definitely-not-a-plebiscite on marriage equality officially got underway yesterday when the High Court ruled that it could go ahead. If you’re wondering, here’s a quick timeline of what happens next:

  • Australia Post will begin sending ballots to enrolled voters from next Tuesday. Every Australian should have their ballot by Friday, September 22.
  • You’ll have a month or so to fill it out. The ABS would like you to send it back by October 27, but your absolute last day for doing so is Tuesday November 7.
  • The ABS will take a week to count the votes, then announce the result on Wednesday, November 15.

Things kick off this weekend with a huge Yes rally in Sydney. But the real campaign will be fought in suburban homes, backyards and on front doorsteps across Australia over the next month.

We know the arguments the Yes campaign will be using, and how they’ll be making those arguments, because campaigners have been shouting them from the rooftops for months now.

So, here’s how the Yes campaign wants you to talk about marriage equality.

It’s About People, Not Politics

The No campaign wants to make this debate about anything other than the people who will actually be affected by marriage equality. And that’s not just LGBTQI+ people, it’s their friends, parents, siblings and grandparents, who just want to watch a loved one walk down the aisle.

You might be surprised by how many Aussies don’t know an LGBTQI+ person. But when they realise that marriage equality affects their neighbours, co-workers and acquaintances — people they live beside every day — they’re much more open to the notion of voting Yes.

The No campaign is counting on LGBTQI+ people remaining de-humanised and in the background. Don’t let them.

Tiernan Brady ran the successful Yes campaign in Ireland, and is now working for the Yes campaign here. Earlier this week he spelled out the importance of a Yes vote.

“Somewhere in Toowoomba this week, there’s a young woman and she’s making the most beautiful discovery. It’s a discovery everyone in Australia and everyone in the world makes — who they are, and who they’re going to fall in love with. And right now as she makes that discovery, she also makes the horrible realisation that her aspirations will never be allowed to be the same as her brothers and sisters. And that’s just un-Australian, and it’s deeply unfair, and it’s time we changed it.”

That’s what marriage equality is about.

Answer People’s Questions

I’ve been out of the closet for years, but if I asked my parents what LGBTQI+ meant, I don’t think they’d make it past “B”. If people are embarrassed to ask something, or scared of the response they’ll receive, they’ll just stay quiet, and you miss a chance to change someone’s mind.

A lot of people are going to have questions. Some of them might not be politically correct — they might not even be about marriage — but if a person genuinely want to know something, tell them. They’ll come away better informed, they might have a better understanding of the “T”, the “Q” or the “I”, and you might have just recruited another Yes voter who understands things a little better than they did before.

It’s ok for them to get stuff wrong. At least they’re trying.

But Don’t Get Sucked In To The Bullshit Arguments

The No campaign has very explicitly said that this campaign is not about marriage. That’s because they know they lost the debate on marriage years ago.

Instead, they want this to be about Safe Schools, free speech, religious freedom, political correctness, IVF, gay parenting, and any other shit they can throw at the wall in the hope that some of it sticks.

None of these things will be affected by the survey. That’s just a fact, and while the No vote gets its own opinions, it doesn’t get its own facts. Every second we spend talking about these side issues is time not spent talking about the positive effects of marriage equality.

As hard as it is, don’t get sucked on to the No campaign’s turf.

Just…. Be Cool

A lot of hurtful shit is going to be said during this campaign. One look at social media or the comments section on a major news site tells us that there are a lot of bigots and homophobes out there who are disgusted by the thought of same-sex marriage and gay people in general (and of course, some on the Yes side will also act like fools during all of this).

But they don’t represent most Australians, or even most No voters. And because this is a voluntary survey, there will be a lot of people who don’t care all that much and may not vote at all.

Getting angry and yelling is not the best way to persuade anyone. No one ever said, “Oh, thank you for calling me a bigot, I’ve changed my mind now.” As hard as it is at times, avoid getting in to a yelling match.

The message of the Yes campaign will be an overwhelmingly positive one. Remember, the day after the vote is done, we’ll still have to share the country with No voters.

Here’s Tiernan Brady on the importance of a respectful debate:

There Are Some Practical Things You Can Do Too

Volunteer! Here’s the site for the Yes campaign. They’re asking people to make phone calls for them. Trust me, it’s not that bad. I did it the other day and I actually convinced a No voter to switch. All she wanted was to talk to an actual gay person to find out why it mattered. It was fun, she was lovely. I hung up and shed a little tear.

Donate! Here’s the store to buy some sweet Yes merch. Or you can just donate here. The Yes campaign is run on people power, and every dollar will make a difference.

And this campaign will be donating money to various LGBTQI+ mental health services. This guy has even pledged to match every donation up to $10,000. What a champ.

Or just write a letter. Here’s a letter one same-sex couple is writing to their neighbours, asking them to vote Yes. I’ll be doing the same thing with my partner, you can too.

Get to it, guys. We can win this thing, but we need your help.

Rob Stott is the Managing Editor of Junkee Media. Follow him at @Rob_Stott