Deadline fast approaching for same-sex marriage vote
SUPPORTERS of both the Yes and No same-sex marriage campaigns in Gladstone are urging people to return their postal ballots as quickly as possible.
While the survey officially closes at 6pm on November 7, today is the last recommended deadline for people to send back their ballots if they want to make sure their vote is counted.
About 74.5% of all eligible voters had returned their postal ballot as of last Friday, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics - leaving about four million people yet to have their say.
Natalia Muszkat, a professional photographer who has lived in Gladstone since 2007, said she wanted to do something to encourage people to fill out their survey forms.
Ms Muszkat, who is backing the Yes campaign, settled on offering to photograph her first same- sex wedding free of charge, should it become legal following the survey.
"It's to help raise awareness... I didn't know what else to do," she said.
"At the end of the day it's all about equality really.
"It's about giving people the same, not just privileges, but also responsibilities, as everybody else."
Ms Muszkat said she was confident the survey would return a "big majority" for the Yes side - but she wouldn't feel any huge sense of victory as a result.
"To me it's just a shame that we actually have to (vote on this)," she said.
"I feel like I should apologise to people that have different sexuality or preferences when it comes to who they marry.
"I just don't understand why we have to put people in these situations... for an institution that shouldn't belong to any one group or another.
"Some people from different faiths or groups, they think the concept of marriage belongs to them. And that's just historically and culturally not correct."
Ian Aylward, senior pastor at Gladstone Baptist Church, is less sure about what the result will be once all the ballots are counted.
"It's hard to know how 15 million people are going to vote," Pr Aylward said.
"According to the surveys it seems likely the Yes case will have a majority... but I think the longer the discussion concerning this plebiscite has gone on, the smaller that majority is becoming."
Pr Aylward said people were changing their views as the debate continued.
"There are a few people that have come to me from the community... who were fairly strongly considering Yes and are now thinking about voting No," he said.
"They're concerned about the impact it will have on the language we use - whether we'll still be allowed to talk about husband and wife.
"And they're concerned about what will be the sex education taught to our children at seemingly a young age.
"People see the plebiscite as linked to (those issues), they don't see them as distinct issues."
Pr Aylward said the idea that churches shouldn't take part in political debate was unfair to those who wanted to hear different perspectives.
"As a church we're not here to tell people how to vote - but we have a right to express our opinions if it's in a cordial way," he said.
"Whichever way the plebiscite goes (and parliament votes) I suspect there'll be ongoing discussion and public debate.
"As long as those differing views are all held in good spirits and in a peaceful manner then I think that's one of our great strengths as a country."
The Australian's last Newspoll survey showed 59% of those who have returned their postal ballots say they voted in favour of legalising gay marriage.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said same-sex marriage would "absolutely" pass through Parliament by Christmas if the Yes vote wins.