A CENTRAL West family’s story of acceptance in their community has been highlighted in federal parliament as part of the latest push for marriage equality in Australia.
Alison Gerard and Sophie Meredith live and work in Bathurst with their two children, Sebbi and Zadie.
Ms Gerard is an associate professor in law and director of Charles Sturt University’s new Centre for Law and Justice while Ms Meredith is a yoga teacher at Prana Yoga and a PhD student, studying public health.
And theirs was one of the stories featured by opposition leader Bill Shorten when he spoke passionately in support of marriage equality in federal parliament on Monday.
Mr Shorten said he spoke for the “tens of thousands of Australians whose love has been denied equality under the law” for too long.
“Today I speak for Sophie Meredith and Alison Gerard, who have been together for eight years,” Mr Shorten told parliament.
“They wear rings, they have two children whom they adore.
“They fulfil all the obligations of marriage – care, respect, love and family – yet they are excluded.
“Their relationship is, in the eyes of our laws, somehow different, somehow less.
“Go down any street in Australia and you can hear these stories – hard-working people raising children, building community, serving the country, made to feel like second-class citizens through one last relic of legal prejudice.
“It’s in our power in this place to change that once and for all.”
Parliament is debating whether the question of marriage equality should go to a plebiscite early next year.
Labor opposes the plebiscite, though, arguing the issue should be decided by a free vote by politicians on the floor of parliament.
Plebiscite opponents fear a campaign on same-sex marriage would unleash a wave of hate speech and threaten the mental health of young people struggling with their sexuality – fears shared by Ms Gerard and Ms Meredith.