Swimming Australia Says Their Entire Board Will Vote For Marriage Equality

Australian politics are consumed this week by the mail-in vote that will determine the future of gay marriage in the nation. The latest polling by the Guardian shows that while favor for marriage equality is waning as compared to its peak polling support in past weeks, a vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage is still the expected outcome.

The matter has led to many heated debates, even by political standards, to the extent that even sporting bodies are becoming involved. Swimming Australia released a statement on Tuesday that is gingerly supportive of the measure (with a ‘yes’ vote being for legalizing gay marriage). While the organization made it clear that after a meeting they “felt it appropriate for all Swimming members to have the opportunity to have their own position,” they also said that “without exception, each Board & Executive member will be exercising their individual right as Australians to support the notion of marriage equality.”

That can be interpreted as something along the lines of “we won’t tell our members how to vote, but every powerful person at Swimming Australia will support marriage equality,” while simultaneously encouraging respectful discussion.

Among the Australian swimmers who are in favor of marriage equality is Ian Thorpe, who came out as gay after he completed his swimming career. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Thorpe said “The reason why it’s personally important for me is the message it sends to a young me – that the way that I felt is equal to the way anyone else feels. I think it’s when we have this kind of recognition in marriage equality that young people can feel that and we start to get rid of all of those layers of discrimination the LGBTIQ community can face.”

Thorpe, a 9-time Olympic medalist and one-time World Record holder in the 200, 400, and 800 freestyles, has become one of the major faces of the pro-equality campaign.

In a search of Australia’s most well-known swimmers, we didn’t cross a single athlete who was publicly opposed to the bill, though most chose not to weigh in at all:

Find the full statement from Swimming Australia below:

The individual Board members of Swimming Australia discussed the postal vote afforded to all Australians on the issue of marriage equality at its Board Meeting yesterday.

Swimming Australia is an organisation of members and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and opinions; and our organisational policies reflect our ongoing and serious commitment to inclusion, fairness and acceptance.

Without exception, each Board & Executive member will be exercising their individual right as Australians to support the notion of marriage equality.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said that the Board recognised that as a sport we have past and present champions who have strong positions on this topic. We absolutely support these individuals and support their right to have a strong voice in relation to this social issue.

Swimming Australia Directors also strongly believe that everyone has an equal right to make an informed decision on the issue and recognise that this is a topic where there will be differing views on marriage equality across the community and across our sport.

Swimming Australia Directors welcomed and encouraged an informed and respectful discussion on the issue. The organisation strongly believes that everyone has an equal right to make an informed decision on the issue.

On this basis the Board felt it appropriate for all Swimming members to have the opportunity to have their own position and encouraged all of our members to express their perspective in the postal plebiscite.

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masters swimmer
5 years ago

It is unclear to me why Swimming Australia needs to take a position or get involved in this matter. It is simply outside the scope of what they do. Will they now feel obligated to take a public position on climate change? This is a good example of what happens when a sports organization gets sidetracked from their core mission. There are plenty of other organizations people can join if they want to be involved in this subject.

Reply to  masters swimmer
5 years ago

being inclusive and promoting equality is cetainly within scope, also sport is more popular than going to church. if religious orgnisations can comment, so can sporting organisations. well done to the afl and swimming australia.

5 years ago

I hope everyone votes yes, but if not, it’s just a minor setback. It’s going to happen eventually, it’s just a matter of when. The sun will set, the tides will come in, and marriage equality will become legal. By all means, vote no if that is your earnest belief, but understand that you are bailing water out on the Titanic. I hope that, when progress inevitably runs its course, everyone accepts it with grace.

gary douglas
5 years ago

Of course it’s a no-brainer. By now most Americans have had a chance to see a same-sex marriage ceremony and we can verify that same-sex marriage is just as meaningful, honorable and legitimate as traditional marriage. Maybe more so!

Reply to  gary douglas
5 years ago

Actually marriage is not always that . How often in our recent history are the rights of one side subsumed & eradicated by marriage? It varies between realms . For instance French law has always allowed women to maintain property whereas in British law it was thus given to the man . In Britain the oldest male inherited the property . The brother of Princess Diana explained that is why Britain still has magnificent mostly intact estates with extensive grounds whereas formerly grand chateauxs& property in France are in disrepair thru being parcelled off thru a more equal inheritance . ( The Spencers estate go back to War of the Roses iirc).

Currently in Australia we have a Dowry abuse… Read more »

Reply to  G.I.N.A
5 years ago

I heard it said once that the current fight over marriage equality is like two kids fighting over whether or not a toy is shared, but the toy in question is broken beyond all repair and no longer of much value.

Reply to  sven
5 years ago

The number of traditional marriages is low in Australia since our 1970s reforms to partnerships ( we call them de facto marriage) & no fault divorce . The weddings that do go ahead seem to be bigger , grander & brides look like Bridezilla . The cost is an average $40,000. In this context the industry welcomes & gay marriage . The lesbians I know are all finance savvy & won’t waste money but the boys will go big big bog .

5 years ago

Marriage in Australia is a federal legislation . All marriages are civil in Australia . I have never actually read the current law but I m sure it has many restrictions such as against incest , polygamy , forced marriages , foreign marriages , age , etc. This vote is just an advisory as to if the laws should include ssm . However it doesn’t ask or define any other changes so no telling what the end will be . Perhaps Emily will be allowed to marry her true love ! I saw some great pics of Harvey where ppl brought their horses inside – there they were perfectly happy in the kitchen & not at all out of place… Read more »

5 years ago

If we kept government out of marriage like we should have hundreds of years ago then we wouldn’t be having these ridiculous debates today.

Marriage laws and licensing has, in part, an ugly history, especially in the US (see anti-miscegenation law). IMO not worth discussing on SwimSwam but maybe doing a little research on your own.

But good luck to Australia, let’s hope they figure out what works best for their people.

Reply to  BKP
5 years ago

Change government with religion

Reply to  BKP
5 years ago

There is a reason for government taking a role. What if one religious group held power, what was stopping them from dictating that only marriages carried out under the auspices of THEIR religion/denomination have any LEGAL validity ? One wonders where the “religious liberty” (a commodity so vehemently advocated/demanded by certain religious orgs/lobby groups) exists in this environment; in fact it still exists in a few fundamentalist regimes.

In all honesty (and this coming from an AUS voter); this plebiscite is a very unsatisfactory vehicle given (1) it is not binding on the parliament to act in accordance with the result and (2) we have no actual legislation being put forward at this time setting out not only the… Read more »

E Gamble
5 years ago

Go Australia! ???

5 years ago

I find these ‘things’ utterly jarring. That as supposedly liberal, decent democracies we sit and ‘debate’ the most basic rights of fellow citizens like it’s a tough moral decision. How can we feel it’s our right to debate someone’s life and decide how they can live by putting a tick in a box after a toxic ‘debate’ full of hate. It’s utterly shameless.

I remember sitting and watching as our own parliament here in Britain ‘debated’ my future. The comments on TV shows about “what comes next? Incest? Marrying animals?”… The utter dehumanisation of people was unfathomable.

Strength & unity to all the gay (and like-minded straight) Australians feeling at a loss & under-valued right now, hopefully your… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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