Leading up to Australia’s plebiscite to allow marriage equality in 2017, which led to changes in the marriage equality laws, SAGE was at the heart of the debate.
For several years we were involved in identity politics that enabled people to legally change their sex and gender and for others to identify as other than traditionally male or female.
In the early part of the marriage equality campaigning, SAGE founder Tracie O’Keefe spoke at the public rallies at Newtown and later at the Town Hall in Sydney, as well as coordinating with other campaigners and organisations.
Tracie’s wife, journalist Katrina Fox emceed several marriage equality rallies in Sydney and both Tracie and Katrina were involved in a large public protest marriage ceremony at the University of NSW in 2016 when the chancellor refused to support the marriage equality campaign. The pair campaigned for more than 25 years for their right to marry.
SAGE co-founding member Norrie May-Welby spoke publicly at several marriage equality rallies over the years. Since Norrie has no legal sex or gender and is officially listed as sex non-specific, they were a key player in moving the debate to include all groups of sex and/or gender diverse people in the marriage equality laws and not just people who identified as male or female.
Norrie’s exposure in the press also contributed to helping people understand that the marriage equality debate was not just about allowing gay or same-sex marriage but also about allowing marriage equality for all adults regardless of their sex, gender or sexuality.
SAGE member Grace Abrams took a complaint about not being able to be married to partner to the United Nations. Before she transitioned legally to female she had married her wife in a heterosexual wedding ceremony, but when she transitioned she was told by Births Deaths and Marriage (NSW) that she could not be considered married if she changed her birth certificate to female as by law at the time two females could not be married.
So, Grace was faced with the choice of having to dissolve her marriage or not being able to change her birth certificated unless she got divorced. This was a violation of the Human Rights Charter, to which Australia is a signatory, which states that everyone should have the right to form a family.
SAGE member Conor Montgomery was active in organising marriage equality rallies, protests and campaigns in NSW at the very beginning of the marriage equality campaign when it was considered very unfashionable and not of great importance to society at large.
Other members of SAGE also took part in the wider marriage equality debates and rallies as well as lobbying their members of parliament.