Western gay and lesbian group calls for health and education spending not marriage plebiscite

BY GEORGIA McCARTHY

The Western Area Gay and Lesbian Support Group (WAGALS) has branded the same sex marriage plebiscite a huge waste of money.

Pledged by Attorney General George Brandis, the plebiscite could change the Marriage Act by the end of 2016. The Liberal party has said they will hold the plebiscite if re-elected.

Senator George Brandis. Source: aph.gov.au

Senator George Brandis. Source: aph.gov.au

The plebiscite, however, would cost an estimate of $150 million dollars, which Labour candidate for Calare, Jess Jennings, claims would be a “waste of money”.

Coordinator for The Western Area Gay and Lesbian Support group, Mark Baylis, agrees with Jess Jennings.

“The government is already saying they want to spend the money on a range of different things, yet theyre willing to spend 150 million on this.” Baylis claims.

Mark Baylis believes the money could be better spent on health and education.

“I don’t see the same sort of system put in place for other issues so why are they doing it this way for the gay marriage equality. I think it’s a bit strange.”

Baylis runs a meeting of the Gay and Lesbian support group once a month in Bathurst and Orange, along with other smaller western towns. The group allows people to meet, greet and network in a safe environment. These meetings promote practices, awareness and issues surrounding the gay community.

“My thoughts are, the people we elect to be representatives of the community should be representing and hopefully these people should be able to give back to parliament, whether it be gay marriage or not,” he said.

Baylis is confident that if it doesn’t work out this time, five to 10 years down the track Australia will eventually legalise gay marriage, as it is one of only a few other Western countries that haven’t allowed gay marriage as yet.

Retiring member for Calare John Cobb has said same sex couples should not be able to marry under Australian Law.

Baylis believes John Cobb’s Christian background sways his opinion.

“I am an atheist, but saying that a lot of people who are gay are Catholics or Christians, and to them marriage means a lot. The way the church is saying that it’s a man and a woman context – the church has too much to sway in Australian culture and in politics.”

President of the Bathurst Christian Society, Ryan Barcham, was reluctant to comment on the issue apart from reassuring people that anyone, Christian or not, is welcome to join the BCS.

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