This year Australians have been asked to vote on marriage equality. It has been a highly publicised and widely debated topic. For us, as an Australian business its a no-brainer - gay marriage should be recognised as a legal and official union.
Throughout the campaigns, we've all heard and seen stories of couples waiting for the vote to pass to call one another their wife or husband. However, for others, this vote isn't only about the ability to get married, instead for some, it's just about being equal to everyone else within Australian society.
'Vote Yes' advocate and social media influencer, Reece Carter recently had a Travelshoot in NYC with his best friend Sally. We caught up with him post shoot to see his thoughts on the marriage equality vote.
What does this vote mean to you?
For me, the emphasis is on the 'equality' part of the debate. I've not personally got any plans to get hitched, so you could argue that it doesn't affect me directly right at this moment. Except that it does. Being told you are not able to do something that is available to everyone else simply because of who you are is akin to telling someone "you are equal except...
Any minority or marginalised group would tell you the same: that to be told despite having all the necessary qualities (in this case, a loving heart) that you are not entitled to something is painful. There is no reason to withhold marriage from two loving people, except for those born out of fear and misunderstanding.
I also have a personal reason for wanting a "yes" outcome sooner rather than later. Two of my dearest friends, Amy and Maggie, are engaged and just waiting for the green light to formalise their commitment to one another. I was lucky enough to be present when Mags got down on one knee and proposed. You will never find two people more suited to marriage. The love they share is truly astounding, and it is mind-boggling that anyone would want to hinder that. There is enough scarcity of love in this world right now, so why would anyone want to prevent two loving people from committing to a shared life?
They own a home together, have a little fur baby, and do everything else a married couple would do. Why not let them have equal legal standing as a heterosexual couple, and in turn an equal respect for their relationship in the eyes of the nation?
How will you celebrate marriage equality in Australia?
One of my best friends and I actually have flights booked down to Melbourne to meet Amy and Maggie and have a weekend away at the beach for the weekend after the result is announced. Hopefully, it's a yes, and we can spend the weekend toasting their engagement all over again. No doubt we will also pressure them into choosing between the two of us for best man duties.
How have you been supporting the yes vote?
Mostly, I've been using my social media presence to encourage everyone to get their votes in on time. There is little doubt in my mind that majority of Australians are loving, open-minded people who want to see equality delivered. But if the "no" voters are to win this, it will be because the "yes" camp were too complacent. We've seen strange and unexpected election results in recent years because people assumed the obvious outcome would be realised, and so didn't do their part. I've been repeatedly urging everybody not to assume this is a done deal, and to get their survey in the post now. I've been blown away by people replying directly to thank me for reminding me because they had forgotten all about it, or else didn't realise that time was almost up!
I also had to swallow my pride and individually email a lot of my extended family, asking for their support. I've only met some of these cousins, aunties, and uncles a handful of times in my life, and so to be honest I didn't know what to expect. I shouldn't have been so doubtful, as every single one of them replied to tell me that of course, I had their support, that they planned on voting yes, or had already done so. Some even sent photos of videos of them with their completed forms. It was so touching. I had a few tears, not going to lie.
Do you have any suggestions on how Australian businesses can support marriage equality?
I think we've actually seen a huge turnout and support from private business. There has been criticism that came along with that, but I am personally so impressed by how so many businesses — large and small — have conducted themselves throughout the campaign. Some may argue that businesses should "stay out of politics" but I would argue that to call this a purely political issue is to minimise it.
This is a human rights issue, and businesses are made up of humans. They're not just a corporation, they are a community of real people. And by standing up and publicly announcing their support for marriage equality, these businesses have told their LGBT+ staff and customers that they matter.