This is your helpful reminder that there are only a few days left to enrol to vote if you want to have your opinion registered in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. Enrolments will close at 6:00 pm on Thursday, August 24th.
Here is the link to enrol or change your details. You should use this link if you have never enrolled, or if you have moved recently.
Here is the link to check your enrolment. I strongly recommend using this link to make sure that your enrolment is correct, even if you haven’t moved in a while. I do think the AEC is extremely competent and has a lot of integrity, but mistakes can happen, especially if you have a common name. It takes just a few seconds to make sure you are enrolled, so please do it.
There is more information on the process on the ABS website. In particular, there is quite a bit of information around how they are going to make voting universally accessible, including for overseas voters and silent voters. Quoting from their website:
The approaches include:
- Provision of the Translation and Interpreter Service (TIS) to provide translation support to non-English speaking Australians in engaging with the Information Line;
- Instructions on the reverse side of the letter sent with the survey form in 15 languages spoken by Australians on how to contact TIS.
- Use of National Relay Service for those who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment.
- Use of simple, common language to support people with lower levels of English comprehension.
In addition to delivering survey materials by post, the ABS will advertise locations in every capital city, and some regional and remote locations, where eligible persons can collect and/or return survey materials from or to an ABS officer. Locations, dates and times for where forms can be picked up will be advertised on the ABS website.
In limited circumstances, a person will be able to respond to the survey through a paperless method. This method will be made available only to Australians overseas or who cannot reasonably receive their material via post, Australians with blindness, low vision or other disability that makes the paper form a more difficult option, or those in residential aged care. Eligible Australians in these categories will be able to request a secure access code from the ABS. The secure access code is then used to provide a survey response.
There are also provisions for authorising someone to vote on your behalf.
In other words, this may be a terrible, no-good- faux-plebiscite, but the ABS does seem to be doing their level best to make sure everyone has a chance to participate in it. Which is a good thing. I’m particularly pleased that one can personally collect or deliver one’s survey – the ABS themselves acknowledge the potential problems around surveys being stolen, and acknowledge that solutions really do require people letting them know that their survey hasn’t arrived.
And now, for something completely different…
I’m probably going to be banging on about this postal survey a fair bit over the next few weeks. That’s because I have a lot of friends who are directly affected, both by the issue of marriage equality and the sort of nasty rhetoric that comes out whenever it comes up on the agenda. As a very dear friend of mine said this week, “It just takes a toll to have the same hate and inequality thrown at us every few months. It certainly has an impact on many of my friends and it requires a lot of energy to keep in good spirits when faced with so much divisiveness. No matter how much I tell myself that it is just politicians doing what they do best – encouraging hatred and toying with people’s life for their own gain – it still stirs up a lot of unpleasantness.”
There’s not a lot I can do to fix the prevailing rhetoric, at least beyond my immediate circle, but I thought it might be nice to share some links to things that might be soothing to read if, for example, one has had the terrible misfortune to have watched Sky News or listened to Cory Bernardi recently. It’s a really random mix of things based on what has crossed my path in the last few weeks, so I hope you find something here that appeals!
- This is just a really nice article about a gay couple in the UK who have adopted four special needs kids, who they clearly love to bits, whose house was rebuilt for them by the reality TV show, DIY SOS. I love this article because it’s about two loving people doing a good thing and getting support from their community to keep doing it. Also, I love it because it’s an article by the Daily Mail that doesn’t want me to claw my eyeballs out after reading it.
- Josh Thomas takes Bob Katter to task on QandA in 2014 for his comments about gay people. (I love this, because he is actually very kind about it, but also takes no prisoners.)
- Lifesavers with Pride. An article about gay lifesavers. What’s not to like?
- The Australian Medical Association has called on the Australian Parliament to legislate directly for Marriage Equality.
- Here’s a cartoon by Judy Horacek about Millinery Equality. It’s not political. It’s just kind.
- Reflection: Why I support Marriage Equality. A lovely article by a Uniting Church minister who happens to be bisexual. It’s a very sweet, personal story, and takes a slightly different tack on the issue.
- Wedding event planners Easy Weddings has a lovely article on why they support marriage equality and look forward to helping gay couples plan their weddings in the near future.
- If you’re tired of reading about politics, why not try some fun fiction by LGBTQI writers, featuring LGBTQI heroes and heroines? In the last few years, Lightspeed Magazine has edited three special editions of short stories: Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Queers Destroy Fantasy, and Queers Destroy Horror. You can buy these issues or you can read the individual stories online for free, but if you like speculative fiction, this should keep you happily reading for quite some time. Or if, like me, you are a shameless reader of romance novels, allow me to recommend Hold Me, by Courtney Milan, which is a features a transgender heroine who writes a blog about apocalypses and a bisexual hero who is a physicist. It’s funny and clever and feminist and basically a huge amount of fun to read.
Finally, I’d like to note that I’m not part of the LGBTIQ community, I’m just an opinionated blogger with lots of friends who are gay or lesbian or bi whom I love very much and want to happy. And that’s all fine, but let’s face it, there are plenty of straight voices in this conversation already.
So here, have a link to the Pinkboard Blog List, which is a listing of blogs written by Australia’s LGBTIQ community. There is a real mix of styles and topics here, some very political others entirely personal. I encourage you to have a look. Let’s make sure that the voices being heard in this debate are the voices of people who are directly affected by it.