The man behind marriage equality in America, Evan Wolfson, visits Australia next month as a documentary celebrating the historic US Supreme Court victory screens in Sydney and Melbourne.
Wolfson is a Harvard Law Graduate and civil rights activist who began his 32 year fight for marriage equality in 1983, with his Law School thesis on gay people and the freedom to marry. In 2015 he achieved his goal with the Supreme Court ruling to legalise same-sex marriage.
Wolfson was the founder and director of the Freedom To Marry movement and the architect of the campaign which won marriage equality in the United States. He has been involved in numerous gay rights cases during his career and now assists and advises civil rights movements around the world, including Australian Marriage Equality and equality advocates in countries including Taiwan, Italy, Japan and China.
Of the documentary which will screen this Wednesday 22 Feb as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival and Sunday March 16 at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Wolfson wrote on his Facebook page, “Right next to the joy I feel over having won the Freedom to Marry is the happiness of seeing elements of our campaign and strategy being adapted to urgent work still to do on many fronts, LGBT and non-LGBT, here in the US and around the world. And that's why Eddie Rosenstein's Freedom To Marry Movie is such an important source of instruction and inspiration to be shared.”
Wolfson arrives in Australia as equality advocates celebrate the release of the consensus report from the Senate Select Committee into the Government’s Draft Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.
The multi-party committee rejected proposed exemptions to discrimination law for civil celebrants and religious businesses who “conscientiously object” to same-sex unions, stating it "would explicitly discriminate against same-sex couples.” Recent polling shows that 65% of Australians and 90% of the LGBTI community oppose such discrimination.
"This is a really significant step forward," said Tiernan Brady, director of Australians 4 Equality. "The Senate committee has risen above party politics. They have shown that political parties can work together to deliver the will of the Australian people."
Labor Senator Penny Wong told Parliament that “we must now, together, take the next steps, to work together, to compromise, to end this debate and to achieve what is the will of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people.”
Those next steps will likely be the introduction of a new marriage equality bill, possibly as early as next month, plus a major campaign to push the coalition to allow a free vote in parliament, which Prime Minister Turnbull and conservative members of the coalition continue to reject.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Wolfson said “It’s time for parliament to act and fulfill the will of the super majority of the Australian people who understand that every day’s delay is a day of real harm to real people and Australia ought not to be lagging behind the United States let alone New Zealand.”
“It’s about people in Australia. It is important with democratic values under threat around the world and, I’m sad to say, including in the United States, it’s especially important for countries like Australia to stand up for human rights and to point the right way.”
Join the campaign for a free vote in Parliament.