I spent just 24 hours in the Top End before boarding a flight to Cairns.
At a lunch for pastors in Darwin yesterday I was bailed up by Ernie, a Baptist from Katherine which is three hours to the south in the middle of nowhere.
Ernie is not your typical pastor but he is perfect for the Northern Territory. God knows.
Dressed in shorts and thongs, he told me how the men’s group in his tiny church wanted to make sure they did their bit to preserve the definition of marriage.
The week the High Court handed down its decision and before the survey forms were posted, his men divided the town of 10,000 people up and systematically door-knocked every house.
He told of one encounter where the burley, beer can-holding Territorian occupant (I’m sure he would have been wearing a white singlet) said: “I’m not religious but if we lose marriage this country is ……” (I can’t use the actual word).
Ernie said his team didn’t find too many Yes voters in Katherine.
I don’t believe for a moment that Katherine is a town of homophobes or bigots and I think it would be a lazy slur to suggest this.
Sometimes people living a simpler and less cluttered life have perspective on simple truths that us city-dwelling “sophisticates” lack.
There are other views beyond the goat cheese circle.
There are many unsung heroes like pastor Ernie fighting hard to preserve the definition of marriage.
ACL’s South Australian Director, Christopher Brohier, is heading up the Coalition for Marriage’s efforts there (our entire team is seconded to the campaign, working along side committed allies who have come out of the woodwork to fight).
Yesterday Christopher smsed me a photo of one of his volunteers who has single handedly door-knocked more than 2197 houses. And he is still going.
Between our field team and all of you who have have generously responded to our calls for on-line donations, we are in this fight with a real chance. We have people on the ground and ads on the air. Thank you so much.
Tomorrow night I’ll speak at a public meeting in Cairns before flying to Brisbane at 5:30am so I can be in a Sky News studio for a scheduled interview.
It’s a privilege and a joy to be part of this campaign. Whether we are speaking at public meetings, door knocking, working behind the scenes in campaign HQ, a veritable fellowship of Hobbits are doing their best.
Ernie’s thong-clad feet looked nothing like Bilbo or Frodo Baggins’. But listening to the guileless earnestness in his voice, I could have easily been in the Shire.