A single mother concerned that supporters of traditional marriage were being silenced into submission decided to hit back and organise her own rally in Sydney’s CBD.
The mum of one who solely rallied marchers to flock to Hyde Park last weekend did so from a lone Facebook page she set up from the living room of her Blue Mountains home.
But having read of vicious attacks on others who had publicly stated they will vote “no” against the proposed changes to the Marriage Act, such as Dr Pansy Lai, who the “yes” campaign asked the AMA to disqualify, Philippa felt so worried that a similar reprisal could happen to her that she would not reveal her full identity.
Nearly a thousand people descended on Hyde Park and down Elizabeth Street and then back up Pitt Street, past the CBD’s busiest shopping precinct.
“A lot of people I spoke to didn’t know what to expect after seeing violent counter-protests,” Philippa said.
“A lot said they left kids at home, not knowing what to expect.”
She felt compelled to support a “no” vote partly in recognition of the impact that the absence of a father was having in the life of her six-year-old daughter.
“I’ve taken the road less travelled, and as a result of my decision my daughter is growing up without a father,” Philippa told The Catholic Weekly.
“And she has a fabulous family structure and she is having a great childhood, but there is something missing.
“I strongly believe that a child should grow up with both parents.”
A spokesperson from the Coalition for Marriage said that the marchers sent a message to their fellow Australians that it is okay to say “no”:
“Attending a public event in support of marriage is not only an act of courage, but gives confidence to the millions of Australians concerned about the effect that changing the definition of marriage will have on freedom of speech and religion, and on what is taught in the classroom,” the spokesperson said.
“We congratulate the organiser of last week’s rally and those who attended. They know, as we all do, that those who publicly declare that they are voting “no” in this survey are often vilified and harassed.”
The peaceful demonstration of young families, single people and retirees was well represented across different cultural groups, with many holding placards stating “I can vote no and still love you”, “Biology is not bigotry” and “Who will speak about my right to a mum and dad?”.
Philippa said there were some “thumbs down” gestures from bystanders and some offensive comments, but that she also shook hands and spoke with receptive people along the way.