The following is my letter to the ALIA Board of Directors on their silent stance towards marriage equality.
Board of Directors
Australian Library and Information Association
PO Box 6335
Kingston ACT 2604
20th September 2016
ALIA Board of Directors,
You recently gave a response to the NGAC committee on marriage equality dated 11TH September 2017. It is in response to this statement and your silence on the marriage equality human rights issue that I write to you today. I URGE the Board of Directors to immediately reconsider ALIA’s ‘neutral’ position, and advocate for marriage equality concerning this critical human rights issue.
I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I fully support the position and points put forward by fellow ALIA member Alissa M in the open letter to you dated 19th September 2017, and that I wish to build on her argument that she so eloquently and assertively made. Alissa very effectively outlined key issues that you have failed to, or intentionally avoided, addressing.
It is true that to consider your position as ‘neutral’ or more accurately, to not lend support to the marriage equality movement, is to effectively support the status quo. Therefore, I would put it to you that in this scenario it is not possible to remain neutral. in fact, your stance (or lack thereof) implicitly advocates for non-reform and lends support to inequality. I urge the ALIA Board to consider if this is the position it wishes to take.
Please turn your attention to the ALIA core values. Specifically, the fourth: ‘Respect for the diversity and individuality of all people.’
You can advocate for marriage equality and uphold this core value that is at the centre of the organisation. It would show respect for diversity through promotion of equality, whilst at the same time you are allowing individual freedom (to those that are opposed to marriage equality) by allowing them to vote however they wish. However members vote is a personal choice and all are equally valued and welcome afterwards, this is the respect you are offering the individual. Through taking a positive stance you can uphold your own core values, by not taking a stance you are clearly communicating to your members your priorities.
The ASIA-Pacific conference theme for 2018 is ROAR, LEAP, DARE. I read under ROAR (although ROAR itself has significance in this context) the keywords ‘storytelling’ and ‘activism’. What will the story be that ALIA can tell about their involvement (or lack of) in this critical human rights issue? Have you roared, leapt or indeed even dared to make a stance? Disappointingly it seems the rhetoric of libraries, relevance and the future has returned. Instead of leading society we fall quietly into the background. Ironically, at least with this stance we (hopefully) will not annoy enough people to retain enough members such that the association survives, and we can spend another few years discussing what opportunities we missed in order to roar, leap or dare.
Make a stance and join the fight for equality. Don’t fall silent on a critical human rights issues and risk fading into irrelevance.
James Nicholson AALIA