THE HIGH COURT CHALLENGES
Two groups of marriage equality advocates lodged papers with the High Court on August 10 challenging the postal survey, arguing the ABS did not have the power to run what is effectively a ballot, and the government couldn’t spend the $122 million needed to fund it, without parliamentary approval. The court dismissed both bids on September 7 and more than 16 million forms were sent out from September 12.
THE ELECTORAL ROLL CHANGES
After both sides of the debate urged Australians to have their say, almost one million changes were made to the electoral roll ahead of the survey. The ABS also revealed on August 25 there were 90,000 new names on the roll.
THE EXTREME POSTERS
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, on August 21, blasted a poster spotted in a Melbourne laneway carrying the slogan ‘stop the fags’, which appeared to trace back to the message board of a neo-Nazi website. He posted on Facebook that Labor had opposed the survey ‘because we feared exactly this kind of hurtful filth would emerge’. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 2Day FM he was offended by such posters while defending the vast majority of people who do not agree with same-sex marriage, as not homophobic.
THE TELEVISION ADS
Groups on both sides of the debate produced television ads, including the Coalition for Marriage, whose piece, launch on August 30, featured three mothers concerned about how same-sex marriage would affect what was taught and promoted in schools.The Equality Campaign rebutted some claims in the Coalition’s ad with their own piece, featuring prominent doctor Kerryn Phelps.
THE CELEBRITY OPINIONS
Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe joined the ‘Yes’ campaign on August 12, saying it was important for ‘the message it sends to a young me’. Singer Kylie Minogue and Hollywood stars Chris Hemsworth and Russell Crowe are among others to have backed same-sex marriage on social media, while Wallabies star Israel Folau tweeted he would not support same-sex marriage.
A ‘Vote NO’ message was written in the sky over Sydney on September 17, while a simple ‘NO’ was written above Melbourne on October 10. The skywriting appeared to be crowdfunded through a Go Fund Me page.
THE MACKLEMORE PERFORMANCE
American rapper Macklemore became immersed in the debate ahead of singing his 2012 chart-topper Same Love at the NRL grand final on October 1. Former prime minister Tony Abbott and right-wing independent MP Bob Katter slammed the NRL for inviting the rapper to perform, saying footy fans should not be subjected to a politicised grand final. Meanwhile Prime Minister Turnbull said he looked forward to the performance and Attorney-General George Brandis labelled Mr Abbott’s comments ‘bizarre’.
THE ABBOTT HEADBUTT
Mr Abbott revealed on September 21 he had been headbutted by a same-sex marriage supporter in Hobart. The 38-year-old attacker, who was charged with common assault, was later revealed as DJ Astro Labe who said while he had been wearing a ‘yes’ sticker, the attack was inspired by a personal hatred for Mr Abbott and had nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
THE WOMAN FIRED FOR VOTING NO
In September, a Canberra woman was fired for saying ‘It’s okay to vote no’ on Facebook, with her boss Madlin Sims calling it ‘homophobic hate speech’. Ms Sims, who runs a party entertainment company, said the woman was fired because she was ‘extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals.’ ‘As someone who has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours,’ she said.
People across Australia attended rallies, with ‘Yes’ events held in Melbourne on August 26 and Sydney and Brisbane on September 10 attracting thousands of people, while an eight-strong counter-protest took place in Brisbane. About 20 same-sex marriage opponents turned out for a Straight Lives Matter rally in Sydney on September 23, while two women who locked lips during an anti-same-sex marriage event in Melbourne on the same day were dragged from a stage by security.
THE NO CAMPAIGNERS
Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said on August 22 that people involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign had been ‘militant and intolerant’ of those who favour a ‘No’ vote. Later in September reports emerged a contractor for a Canberra kids parties business was sacked for adding the message ‘it’s OK to vote no’ to her Facebook profile photo.