The Hamilton Spectator – August 04, 2015
THE parents of former Casterton area man Lachlan Beaton, who posted an emotional online video calling for same-sex marriage in Australia, have called for Wannon MP Dan Tehan to change his mind on the issue.
Wando Bridge cattle farmers Andrew and Juddie Beaton met with Mr Tehan in person after Lachlan’s video started gaining media attention.
The video has also become part of Queensland LNP MP Warren Entsch’s campaign for a bipartisan same-sex marriage bill.
Lachlan posted the video to YouTube three weeks ago and he estimates it has been seen 70,000 times across various video and news websites.
In the video Lachlan describes his 12-year struggle to come to terms with his own sexuality, which he successful hid from identical twin brother Charles.
Lachlan grew up around Casterton and felt pressure to conform to a local culture at the time where gays were seen as outsiders to be made fun of.
Andrew and Juddie now believe that same-sex marriage legislation will be vital to sweeping away the last pockets of discrimination.
Mr Tehan’s position throughout the recent national debate on same-sex marriage has been to support “the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act 1961, which states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman”.
“However, I acknowledge that there is a diversity of views in the local community about this,” Mr Tehan said previously.
“While I support the traditional definition of marriage, I also support this issue being dealt with as a matter of conscience.”
Andrew said he and Juddie had spent 50 minutes discussion the issue with Mr Tehan.
“We asked for a meeting and I said to his secretary: ‘if he’s not prepared to listen then let us know and we won’t bother coming’,” Andrew said.
“He did listen and he was really good but he started off by saying that he didn’t know how he would feel, as a parent, because he wasn’t in that position.
“He is like a lot of other politicians who make a decision on this matter and they don’t really know how it affects them or other people.”
Juddie said the mental health issues also should be sufficient to get Australia to “move on from this situation”.
“It’s a terrible thought: those children have to find themselves somewhere, work out their own identity, and it’s much better if it’s done with their family’s backing.”
Andrew noted that “governments spend a lot of money on mental health, and just saving lives.”
“Driving around here with all the safety barriers that are put on roads to save a life; well this is one decision that would save more than one life, it would save a lot of lives,” he said.
Lachlan revealed in his video that his coming to terms with being gay involved periods of self destructive behaviour, excess drinking and depression to the point of hospitalisation at some points.
The Beatons see the issue in historical as well as personal terms, likening the same-sex marriage as just another reform following voting rights for women and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
They spoke of the recent referendum in Ireland and United States Supreme Court decision, both of which paved the way for same sex marriage in those countries.
“We would really like Dan Tehan, our local member, to change his mind,” Andrew said.
“We have changed our mind. We wouldn’t have thought like this ten years ago. So many of our friends have said the same thing.
“One of the slogans ‘it’s OK to be gay’. Same thing for politicians: ‘it’s OK to change your mind’.
“The next generation will look back and think ‘gee we debated all this, fancy that’.”
Juddie said she suspected some MPs were reluctant to challenge their party leader’s position on the issue because they wanted posts as cabinet ministers.
Federal Parliament will resume on August 10 but it is unclear whether a private member’s bill will even get to the stage of facing a vote.