September 05, 2017

Nicholas Hodson, Cr Leigh Wilson, celebrant Tracie Kyne and Ash Watson from REDHS. Photo by Luke Hemer.

SUPPORTERS of same sex marriage have urged Rochester to vote with love.

With the postal plebiscite expected to arrive in letterboxes across the country later this year, residents have come out in support of the yes vote.

And the no.

Rochester’s Nicholas Hodson said growing up in a country town as a gay man was brutal.

‘‘I was bullied in high school, bashed and called every homophobic derogative term under the sun,’’ he said.

‘‘Even coming out later it was still really difficult.

‘‘Even the fact that I liked netball more than football was something that was really hard.’’

The 34-year-old said if Australia could normalise marriage we could normalise everything else.

‘‘We can make it easier for the LGBTI community,’’ he said.

‘‘Marriage is a legal issue and not a religious one.

‘‘The post vote allows for religious freedom as well but we need to think about the generations that follow us and not just couples now who are engaged and want to get married.

‘‘I hope that people think about the teens in rural Australia that think they aren’t okay or are weird and think about what this means for them.

‘‘It is time to get on board.’’

Nicholas said voters needed to think about the human element rather than the political.

‘‘Although this makes me angry that our government has gone down this path and not just voted on it in parliament I think people need to think about who it will affect,’’ he said. ‘‘Whether that be your sister, aunty, cousin, mother or granddaughter or those in your family who aren’t even born yet.’’

Rochester ward councillor Leigh Wilson proudly supports marriage equality. ‘‘There are very few people who don’t know someone who associates with LGBTI,’’ he said.

‘‘It is a bit nonsensical that we can treat people differently simply by picking and choosing. It all comes down to having respect and equal rights.’’

Cr Wilson said he understood that same sex marriage offended some people.

‘‘For whatever reason it is something people don’t like but we all have challenges we have to overcome,’’ he said.

‘‘Voting yes is about treating people the way we want to be treated.’’

Rochester Presbyterian Church Reverend Stuart Withers said he stood behind the no vote.

‘‘I think the government has an interest in defining what marriage is and for our society the traditional definition does serve the public well,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t see marriage as an equality issue. I would ask those who are undecided to listen carefully to the debate.

‘‘Undoubtedly a change in definition will change the way our society works and the fabric of our community.’’

Commenting on a Campaspe News Facebook post, Rochester and district voiced their views on the issue.

Stephen Bond said he would be voting no.

‘‘I think 122 million bucks could be put to a more worthwhile cause than this and this is what politicians are elected to sort out, not run to the voters when it gets too hard,’’ he said.

Tom McCarthy said he would also be voting no.

‘‘It also opens the doors to less than desirable factions within society: ie safe schools grooming program,’’ he wrote.

‘‘I will not be made to feel guilty for being a white, middle-age, heterosexual male.’’

Robyn MacLean said she would vote yes.

‘‘Who other people love is none of my business. I’m angry that it’s come to a plebiscite but I’m not going to punish anyone because of that by voting no,’’ she wrote.

Renata Beall said she believed in social justice.

‘‘It is their right to choose their partner and need the protection of law for families,’’ she wrote.

Kate Roberts said it was time to make laws that stopped the spread of hate and evil.

‘‘Not ones that persecute people for who they love,’’ she wrote.

‘‘You know the worst thing that will happen if we legalise same sex marriage? Gay people will get married ... that’s it. Let people love each other.’’

‘‘Yes from me because equality and fairness,’’ Vinnie Piatek wrote.

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