Tasmainians attend pro-equality vigil and gay man wins “excellent marriage” video competition

Two hundred fifty people attended a marriage equality protest vigil in Hobart. Those attending the vigil held placards and banners declaring “EQUALLY EXCELLENT, handed out flyers and chanted “same sex, same rights, marriage equality now.”

The vigil was held outside a national anti-marriage equality rally entitled “Excellent Marriage” which was addressed by evangelical pastor and former tennis star, Margaret Court, the main advocate for the 2004 ban on same-sex marriages, former Senator, Guy Barnett, and high-profile anti-marriage equality advocate, Rev Campbell Markham.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome, said the vigil was a great success. “It was wonderful to see so many people from such a diverse range of backgrounds attending the vigil”, Mr Croome said. “As well as LGBTI people and our family members there were representatives from the union movement, Young Labor and Amnesty International, and many young heterosexual families with children, and older heterosexual couples. Those attending the ‘Excellent Marriage’ rally were under no illusion about how widely and strongly the pro-equality cause is supported.”

The vigil was addressed by a number of speakers including Sophia Alex-Bailey who spoke about publicly advocating for marriage equality for the first time when she recently addressed the Senate marriage equality inquiry hearing in Melbourne.

The number of people attending the “Excellent Marriage” rally was about the same as the number at the vigil. Young Christians attempting to hand out hot chocolates to those at the vigil were mostly, albeit it politely, declined.

Last year Margaret Court sparked a storm of criticism when she said homosexuality is a sinful choice, with calls being made for the renaming of the Margaret Court tennis arena.

Meanwhile the winner of the “Excellent Marriage” video competition run in the lead up to last night’s rally is gay. Rowan Carmichael entered the competition to show his support for marriage. Rowan does not come out in the video but speaks about marriage in gender neutral terms.

“I entered the competition because I wanted to show that a gay man can want an excellent marriage just as much as anyone else, and that we all have more in common than apart. When the organisers of the competition found out I am gay they removed my entry, but friends, family and some supportive clergy vouched that what I said in the clip is what I genuinely believe and it was allowed to stay in the competition. In the end I won by about forty votes.”

Rowan’s prize of $500 was not presented last night but he was congratulated for his winning entry by Rev Markham.

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