Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis claims her opposition to same-sex marriage reflects the views of her electorate, but hundreds of people who’ve signed an online petition disagree.
Supporters have voiced their frustration at Mrs Sudmalis’ stance, which was made known last week – a day after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced a bill to change the definition of marriage to ‘‘the union of two people’’.
“We have a very conservative seat and from the huge number of emails and letters I have received, people don’t want to see a change. So, I will be saying no,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“I have sat and spoken to a number of people in same-sex relationships, including a caring couple with young children.
“They are in a very close and caring relationship and that is their choice.
“While I have the greatest of respect for them, at this stage our local community is pretty consistent in saying they are not happy with marriage equality.”
By late Tuesday, an online change.org petition, ‘‘Listen to the Electorate: Support Marriage Equality’’, had generated more than 550 signatures. The petition began five days ago.
‘‘Ann Sudmalis may be the MP for my electorate – but she does not speak for me or my views. I support marriage equality,’’ Emma Reeves, from Worrigee, wrote.
Cath Walker said: ‘‘Come on Ann. Be brave! Stand up for what you know in your heart is the right thing.’’
‘‘While Ms Sudmalis is entitled to her own opinion, claiming that the majority in the Gillmore [sic] electorate are against marriage equality without properly gauging the attitudes of her constituents is just wrong,’’ Geoff Barnett, from Mollymook Beach, posted on the website.
A ‘‘Gilmore Community Support Marriage Equality’’ Facebook page has garnered more than 1550 ‘‘likes’’, while a Fairfax Media poll asking ‘‘Do you support same-sex marriage equality?’’ indicates overwhelming support.
Of the 838 respondents, 94 per cent (787) said yes.
Mrs Sudmalis told the Mercury on Tuesday she took community feedback seriously, but couldn’t say if the petition would change her stance.
The MP said she needed to ‘‘cross-check’’ names to ensure the views were coming from within her seat, despite many petitioners stating they lived within its boundaries.
‘‘It would be far easier if people in the seat of Gilmore either emailed me or mailed me,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m not prepared to be motivated to change by people living outside of Gilmore.’’
Mrs Sudmalis said her community newsletter, to be published in the next couple of months, was likely to include a survey on the issue.