Push to highlight marriage equality by flying rainbow flag at Wollongong City Council chambers

Wollongong’s Labor council candidates say the city should fly the flag for marriage equality.

A wave of support: Labor council candidates met outside Wollongong's Burelli Street headquarters on Monday. Pictures: Adam McLean.

A wave of support: Labor council candidates met outside Wollongong's Burelli Street headquarters on Monday. Pictures: Adam McLean.

A group of politicians and supporters met outside the council’s Burelli Street headquarters on Monday, in a push to hoist the rainbow flag outside the city building.

Organised by Labor council candidate Ann Martin, the rally was designed to show there is strong support for marriage equality within Wollongong.

“My message is that this is an inclusive city, and Wollongong should fly the flag,” Cr Martin said.

“And yes, this is a council issue, because we talk about being an inclusive city. I have family members who are gay, and they deserve the right to marry.”

“I have a responsibility for all our residents, and this is also an issue of leadership – we’ve taken leadership on BlueScope, on the privatisation of Shellharbour hospital.

“This is a really basic right, and we should show leadership here.”

Among those who attended was Figtree mum Evelyn Gray, who held a placard saying she was “waiting to be mother-of-the-bride for my gay daughter”. Ms Gray said her two adult daughters had found “the loves of their lives”, but only one of them was able to marry.

“When they were little, we treated them as equals but now the law discriminates,” Mr Gray said.

Greens candidate Joshua Bell also attended the rally, saying the issue has broad support from across political parties.

 “It’s not just a Labor issue, we’re all here to stand together in solidarity,” he said.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he believed “equality was a no brainer”, but said he did not want the council elections to be hijacked by the postal vote debate.

Not treated equality: Figtree mother Evelyn Gray says she wants both her daughters - one straight, one gay - to be treated equally by Australian law.

Not treated equality: Figtree mother Evelyn Gray says she wants both her daughters - one straight, one gay - to be treated equally by Australian law.

He also noted that flying a flag – other than the Australian, NSW, city or Aboriginal flags – required a special resolution of council.

There have been no dates set for Wollongong councillors to meet after the Septemer 9 election.

However, the council does not usually meet during school holidays, meaning the first meeting may not be held until mid-October.

Postal survey forms will be mailed out from September 12, and eligible voters will be strongly encouraged to return their form by October 27. The final date for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to receive responses is November 7.

Cr Martin said she would prepare a notice of motion for the first meeting of council and, if she is not elected, will urge one of her Labor colleagues to raise the issue.

She said she did not believe such a motion should be needed, noting there was a “spare flag pole for special occasions” that was not currently in use by the council.

NOTE: The Mercury has asked all candidates how they plan to vote in the postal survey. Results will be published online on Tuesday.

Key Dates

Thursday, 24 August 2017 - Electoral Roll closes for new enrolments or changes to enrolments (midnight local time).

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 - Commencement of mailing of forms and collection period.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 – Requests for replacement material closes (6pm local time).

Friday, 27 October 2017 – The date all eligible Australians will be strongly encouraged to return their form by. 

Tuesday, 7 November (6pm EST) – No responses received after this date will be processed. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 – Statistics released.

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