SOUTH Coast residents are encouraged to have a say on marriage equality reforms.
Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis attended a public forum in Nowra on Friday night and heard locals thoughts on the issue.
Mrs Sudmalis said it was irrelevant how she felt about the issue because it was her job to collect comments from the community.
“For me, I was just going along to listen,” she said.
“I can’t speak for the rest of Australia. I can only go by what’s happening in Gilmore.”
To gain a better understanding of the community's thoughts on marriage equality a survey will be sent to local households and available online within the month.
“It’s going out to 65,000 households. I think it is likely I will be able to get a better overall coverage than a poll of 1000 people, so whoever feels strongly about this and is not computer savvy will now have a chance to have their say.
“It’s going to be pretty indicative feedback for me and I will endeavour to get as much of the statistical analysis together as soon as I can.”
Australian Marriage Equality member Rodney Croome and one of Nowra’s public forum hosts said the discussion was individual to others hosted around Australia.
“The fact the local member was here was something unique that hasn’t happened so far,” he said.
“We really applaud Ann [Sudmalis] for coming along to listen to what her constituents have to say about the issue and for answering some questions from the floor about what she intends to do.
“There was also quite a good attendance given the size of Nowra. Clearly there’s a lot of interest on this issue within the community.
“I’ve got no doubt that this forum won’t be the end of our campaign. It’s really just the beginning.”
Mr Croome said he encouraged the community to make sure their personal stories were heard.
“I don’t think the reform will happen unless those who support it become more active,” he said.
“We have to start telling our personal stories about why this reform matters. Without that then marriage equality will take ever longer to achieve.
“It’s only inevitable if we all take action.”
One topic of discussion surrounded the word marriage.
Mrs Sudmalis said the word caused grief.
“There are people in the same sex marriage debate who are saying it’s marriage or nothing, but there are people on the other side who would be prepared to say ‘look I’m OK with that whatever makes them happy’, so they can express their love for their partner,” she said.
“This is an open situation for us. It’s not about a government policy and I find it quite extraordinary that they are considering that it is.”
An Australian Marriage Equality workshop will also be held on Saturday, July 11 at the Nowra School of Arts Annex off Berry Street, Nowra from 1.30pm.