A CAMBEWARRA woman has challenged Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis’ claims the Shoalhaven doesn’t want marriage equality.
Mrs Sudmalis said in last week’s South Coast Register she had received a huge number of emails and letters saying people didn’t want to see a change and she would reflect the values of her community and not vote for same-sex marriage legislation.
Cambewarra woman Coralie Bell established the Gilmore Community Support Marriage Equality Facebook page last Thursday after reading the article and has attracted more than 1500 followers.
A petition on the page has more than 500 signatures.
“I read the article that said Ann [Mrs Sudmalis] consulted the community and the community overwhelmingly was not ready for marriage change. I didn’t agree,” Mrs Bell said.
“I was outraged and angry with her comments.
“Everyone I spoke to wasn’t opposed to it. There are two sides to the debate and I wanted the other side to be heard.
“Gilmore is a big region from Shellharbour to Ulladulla, representing around 100,000 people and we want to make sure Mrs Sudmalis is speaking for the people she represents in the right way.”
The 34-year-old, who is married with two children, said she was “very conservative” but had a number of gay friends and felt equality was important.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support the page has received and the offers of help which have come forward,” she said.
“By mid-morning Tuesday we had over 1500 followers and 500 signatures on the petition which was pretty amazing considering we only launched it on Thursday.
“So many people want help. I never expected it to take off the way it has.
“I wanted to show Ann there is the other side of the argument and she did say clearly in the article she would vote with the community’s wishes.
“I’m just letting the community have a voice.
“If it ends up the community says ‘No’, I’m fine with that, as long as everyone has had a voice.”
Some of the comments left on the Facebook page also make for interesting reading, including one from an 87-year-old grandmother who has a gay granddaughter and grandson and believes they have the right to marry anyone.
A poll the South Coast Register ran in conjunction with Mrs Sudmalis’ comments asking if you supported same-sex marriage by lunchtime Tuesday has had 776 yes votes or 93.83 per cent and 51 no votes or 6.17 per cent.
Mrs Bell encouraged people to talk to Mrs Sudmalis and express their views while she is in the community, especially on her regular village visits, to ensure their voice is heard.
You can sign the petition or see what is happening locally over the marriage equality debate at www.facebook.com/gilmoresupportsequality.