Actor Michael Caton has called on Australians to vote YES in the marriage equality postal survey, saying the issue is about allowing everyone in our country to be treated equally before the law.
Time is running out to take part in the postal survey on marriage equality. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has recommended survey forms be posted back by this Friday 27 October so that they arrive before the survey closes on 7 November.
Caton, best known for his roles as Ted in Packed to the Rafters and Darryl Kerrigan in the iconic film The Castle, paid tribute in a video message to his friends Alan and John, who he first met on stage in the 1960s. "When I think of marriage equality I think of what it could mean for them," Caton says in the video.
"They were together then in 1969 and they're together now. John is 95, Alan is 88 and they live in a nursing home not far from where I live now.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful for Alan and John, before they pass on, that they could have their commitment recognised by law?" an emotional Caton says.
Caton, who lives in Bondi in Sydney's east, urged people not to be swayed by opponents of marriage equality who were attempting to portray the postal survey as about issues other than the right of same-sex couples to marry.
"Get all these things out of your mind like religious discrimination, what we are teaching our kids in school, they're just red herrings," Caton says.
"This is not about that, this is about people who want to make a commitment to each other. Is that too much to ask?"
Growing up in Queensland in the 1940s, Caton says he had never met a gay person before moving to Sydney. "I finished my high school education not knowing that homosexuality existed," Caton says.
But as his acting career progressed he met more and more LGBTI people. "I started to see them as just people and they became good friends of mine."
He says Alan and John, who have been together for almost 50 years, deserve to have their relationship treated equally to those of other Australians.
"I urge you, respectfully, to vote YES for marriage equality."
The Equality Campaign's Janine Middleton said the video message from Caton — who has played some of Australia's most iconic characters — encapsulates exactly what the YES campaign is about.
"Fairness and equality are at the heart of Australian society and we believe our laws should reflect these values of which we are most proud. This campaign for marriage equality is for people like Alan and John and is simply about our shared Australian values of a fair go and respect for all.
"Achieving marriage equality can be a unifying moment for our nation as we include all Australians in our marriage laws. Let's get this done so we can all move forward as a fairer and more inclusive nation," Janine Middleton concluded.