Albury shops in rainbow support of love in lead up to same-sex marriage postal survey

QUEEN'S SUPPORT: Britain has already backed same-sex marriage now the doll version of Queen Elizabeth at Betty Windsor and Sons Coffee Emporium has too, with owner Jarrod Lehman and Toni Johnson. Pictures: SIMON BAYLISS
QUEEN'S SUPPORT: Britain has already backed same-sex marriage now the doll version of Queen Elizabeth at Betty Windsor and Sons Coffee Emporium has too, with owner Jarrod Lehman and Toni Johnson. Pictures: SIMON BAYLISS

Shopfronts are being asked to brighten up with rainbows and the message of “vote yes” before the upcoming postal survey on same-sex marriage.

Toni Johnson from the Albury Marriage Equality group has already started her campaign, hoping businesses can be the key to encouraging people to vote.

She and other volunteers will visit shops asking them to show support in their windows with any kind of rainbow posters or decorations.

“Balloons, streamers, it doesn’t matter - I want it rainbow, lit up until the postal vote goes through,” Ms Johnson said. “This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to step up and have their say.”

Even her 84-year-old mother had jumped on board the campaign, actively encouraging others in her generation to vote.

“I’m walking round the streets, putting posters up and talking to the businesses and make them have conversations with their family, friends, anyone that comes in and says ‘what’s this all about?’,” she said. “It’s a country town, but the majority are quite happy with supporting equality … There’s only a few (people vocally against same-sex marriage), you always get your diehards, but that’s their right to be like that.”

The High Court was considering two separate legal challenges to the postal survey and will decide whether it is valid following hearings on September 5 and 6. But until then, LGBTQIA+ groups are campaigning in preparation for survey forms to be sent out to homes from September 12.

Ms Johnson said it was important to look out for the mental health of people who were angry with a decision to hold the survey at all and worried about a “backlash of hate”.

“There’s a lot of heartache still locally,” she said. “A lot of people are very sad at the moment and confused I think – we’ve had a lot of calls and people just want to talk. The mental health part of it is very important to acknowledge.”

Corowa’s Adam Richardson is standing by his gay brother, who has been with his partner for seven years, and asked people to put aside the many “outrageous claims” from both sides of the debate.

“They have supported each other through the good times and the bad,” he said.

“My brother’s partner was at his side the day my dad passed, my daughters call them both uncle and we’ve spent countless hours together.”