Same-sex pi­o­neer re­jects vi­o­lence

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID BENIUK

There is a cam­paign on at the mo­ment, peo­ple are work­ing hard, there’s plenty of pas­sion in there ... but it’s never OK to use vi­o­lence like that STEPHEN DAW­SON

ONE half of the first same-sex cou­ple to be mar­ried in Aus­tralia, dur­ing a brief le­gal win­dow in the ACT, has con­demned the al­leged as­sault on for­mer prime min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott in Ho­bart.

Stephen Daw­son, who mar­ried part­ner Den­nis Lid­de­low on the steps of Par­lia­ment House in 2013, has called for calm as the na­tion con­sid­ers a sur­vey on le­gal­is­ing same-sex mar­riage.

“There is a cam­paign on at the mo­ment, peo­ple are work­ing hard, there’s plenty of pas­sion in there,” Mr Daw­son told the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian.

“But it’s never OK to use vi­o­lence like that.”

Mr Ab­bott was al­legedly head­but­ted by 38-year-old North Ho­bart man As­tro Labe on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. Mr Labe has claimed the al­leged at­tack was not re­lated to the de­bate, de­spite him wear­ing a same-sex mar­riage sticker on his jacket.

Mr Labe had no for­mal links to the ‘Yes’ cam­paign, Tasmanians United for Mar­riage Equal­ity said.

The in­ci­dent has prompted ‘No’ cam­paign­ers to crit­i­cise the tac­tics of the ‘Yes’ cam- paign. Mr Daw­son said it was right to de­nounce any kind of vi­o­lent act. “It is a big is­sue,” he said. “Vi­o­lence should never be used in pol­i­tics and cer­tainly not in a cam­paign like this.

“So peo­ple are right to ex­press their con­cerns.”

Mr Daw­son, a West Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, was in Ho­bart to help the cam­paign of La­bor can­di­date for Deni­son Ella Had­dad.

He said he and Mr Lid­de­low were mar­ried in a mid­night cer­e­mony af­ter the ACT had passed a law le­gal­is­ing gay mar­riage.

The mar­riage was an­nulled within a week when the High Court de­ter­mined that the ACT law was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Mr Daw­son said the cur­rent de­bate had at times been steered away from the core ques­tion of the right to marry.

“There have been some harsh words said on both sides of the cam­paign,” he said.

“I’ve been dis­ap­pointed with some of the things that are in the fly­ers, not based on truth.

“It’s not about kids, it’s not about schools or any­thing else.

“It’s lit­er­ally about equal rights for peo­ple.”

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