Gregory T Angelo, President of gay conservative group the Log Cabin Republicans, says he would not have been a supporter of a national vote as a way of achieving same-sex marriage reform.
“In terms of moving the needle on marriage equality in Australia, it comes down to a grassroots advocacy strategy that involves coalitions,” he told SBS at last month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Pursuing a referendum on civil rights is never something that Log Cabin Republicans had advocated for, so that’s not a strategy that I would pursue – putting civil rights, any civil rights, to an up or down vote,” he said.
“The beauty of the constitution we have in the United States is that it is actually designed to protect minority groups from the tyranny of majority groups,” the Republican activist said.
Full Video: Gregory T Angelo's advice to Australian marriage equality activists
Other gay conservatives seem to agree.
“I mean, as principle I don't believe in a majority vote over the civil rights of a minority group. It worked out alright for the Irish, but is risky,” said Garison Carrell, a 22-year-old from Oklahoma.
The US Supreme Court last year ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, a move which delivered marriage equality across the country.
“I'm not sure the laws of Australia, but I liked that ours was handled by the judicial branch,” Carroll said.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, several states legalised same-sex marriage through legislation or court decisions, starting with Massachusetts in 2004.
George W. Bush’s 2004 Campaign Manager, Ken Mehlman, lobbied New York Republicans to pass same-sex marriage legislation in 2011.
The high-profile Republican, who had recently come out as gay, told legislators that same-sex marriage was a fundamentally conservative principle.
"Letting two adults who love each other get married strengthens and promotes families," he said.
The former political operative, who lives in Manhattan, was given a pen the Governor used to sign the same-sex marriage bill into law.
Gregory Angelo says conservative allies will be key to achieving reform in Australia, as had been the case in America.
“The gay community on the centre-right just wanted to assimilate, marry and raise families monogamously and in quiet dignity – and that’s something that’s completely in line with conservative values,” he said.
“Making sure you find those voices on the centre-right or on the conservative end of the spectrum, who are at the very least indifferent to marriage equality – don’t see it as something that elected officials or the public should obsess over – or at best are outright supporters of it, are voices that I would recommend recruiting for the cause,” Angelo said.
Those voices would show that same-sex marriage “is not just some liberal issue being pushed by the left,” Angelo said.