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Students Continue Campaign for Marriage Equality

Students at the ANU are continuing to work towards a YES vote in the marriage equality postal survey as the divisive campaign stretches into its final weeks, with a higher than expected turnout anticipated.

Students have participated in door knocking and phone banking initiatives organised by the Australian Marriage Equality campaign, as the No campaign has dug in its heels in an effort to galvanise support for its unpopular cause.

Rainbow YES campaign posters have been displayed prominently in staff office doors and YES posters feature prominently on campus noticeboards.

One campaign volunteer, Max, told Woroni that while the YES campaign isn’t trying to convince anyone, it is working to ensure that people send back their survey forms.

He said it would ‘take up too many resources’ trying to convince every no voter encountered to switch their support, and those resources were ‘better placed in a “get out and vote” campaign.’

‘Their main concern isn’t in investing 15 minutes in talking around a no voter, when 15 minutes could be better spent talking to people on that block who don’t have time to vote yes, but would otherwise support it,’ the first year ANU arts student said at the weekend.

Despite long-held public support for marriage equality, there is growing nervousness that the outcome of the postal survey could be closer than first thought.

According to a Newspoll published last week, support for same-sex marriage has fallen to 57 per cent, from 63 per cent in August. In September 2016, 62 per cent support was recorded in the same poll.

Support for a no vote has increased to 34 per cent from 30 per cent in August. It was 32 per cent a year ago. Nine per cent of respondents were found to be non committed.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said that the result was ‘now in the hands of the Australian people’ but expected a ‘very high turnout’.

Weekly national estimates of the turnout will be produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with the first expected on Tuesday, 3 October. The survey closes on 7 November, with results announced on 15 November.

Meanwhile, the YES campaign hit out at the no campaign at the weekend after an advertisement highlighting the comments of supposed YES campaign supporters calling their opponents ‘bigots’ and ‘homophobic maggots’ was distributed online.

The Equality Campaign executive director, Tiernan Brady, said the campaign had sought to be positive despite the abuse LGBTI* people were subjected to during the campaign. ‘Unfortunately lesbian and gay people understand what it feels like to be verbally harassed and bullied,’ he said.

‘We have chosen as a campaign not to highlight that because marriage equality needs to unite the country not divide it.

‘This ad is divisive. The majority of Australians are for marriage equality because they believe in the fundamental Australian value of fairness and they’re being called intolerant for believing in fairness.’

Student door knocking volunteer Max encouraged students to support the YES vote and also recommended getting out into the suburbs of Watson and Hackett. ‘I would thoroughly recommend that outside of statistical information collection season, you should walk around some of these inner north suburbs because there’s some stunning 70s architecture,’ he said.