Marriage equality—have your say ...









The New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC), fulfilling their role as a bridge between the new generation of library professionals, have started the ball rolling on a very topical and important issue— the Same-Sex Marriage plebiscite. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Director, Jane Cowell adds her opinion.


'The debate about marriage equality (in the political arena known as Same Sex Marriage) has been going on for quite some time and now the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that a vote on Same-Sex Marriage will be held in Australia. He has also determined that this vote will be held by a postal ballot process, subject to the outcome of a High Court Challenge which will be heard on 5 and 6 September. While it is not compulsory to take part in the voting process I urge all ALIA members to have your say. We live in a great democracy where we are able to debate important current issues and then determine the outcome through a voting process, in this case a postal ballot. If you wish to shape the future, you will need to vote. Same-Sex Marriage is an emotive issue and there are some people in our communities who are vehemently in favour, and then there are some who are vehemently against the idea. During the time that the vote is open until polls close in November there will be campaigning from both sides that may adversely affect some of you and I would like to remind everyone of the values of ALIA and what we stand for. At ALIA, we work to build a strong culture of inclusion and mutual respect for the diversity and individuality of all people and we advocate to ensure all members can flourish in a safe and supportive industry. I urge all to ensure that the debate and dialogue on this issue will be respectful, regardless of a person’s personal position on the issue. Librarians have always supported diversity and inclusion regardless of background, sexuality or gender and we recognise the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members to learn, live and work, free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our industry and the broader population'. 'For those who are interested, I intend to vote Yes'. 


We welcome more contributions to the conversation.

Here are the key dates to remember and a brief outline of how it all works.

Key dates: 

  • Announced on 10 August 2017.
  • Australians who have the right to vote, must enrol to do so by 24 August 2017. 
  • The same-sex marriage ballot papers will begin to arrive via post from 12 September 2017.
  • The same-sex marriage ballot papers must be returned by 7 November 2017.
  • A final result of the postal plebiscite is expected by 15 November 2017.

Key facts:

  • plebiscite is a national vote that tests whether the majority of Australians support an action on a certain issue. This particular one is being conducted by post.
  • Its estimated that around 14 per cent of young Australians are not enrolled to vote and nationally the percentage of Australians not enrolled to vote is 5 per cent.
  • In the event of a 'yes vote' being derived from the same-sex marriage postal plebiscite, a private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage will be introduced to the house of parliament.
  • The same-sex marriage plebiscite is being conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Here is how they will be conducting and recording the votes.

'In addresses to their staff, library leaders are affirming that now more than ever libraries are a cornerstone of democracy. Libraries stand for truth and knowledge. Libraries are for everyone'. Courtesy of the New York Public Lbrary.