After dating for two years, Darren Hayes married his husband Richard Cullen on June 19, 2006 in London, via a civil partnership. They married again on July 2013 in California, where the couple currently lives. Despite being together for 12 years and married for a decade, their marriage is not recognised in Australia.
In an open letter posted to Facebook, the former Savage Garden frontman urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to drop the marriage equality plebiscite and spend the money more wisely, suggesting that "mental health care - for all of those people who are depressed or suicidal as a result of living in a world where they are considered second class citizens" would be a better use for the taxpayer's money.
"You are about to waste 160 million hard earned Australian tax dollars on what is essentially an opinion poll even though you’re aware, as are all Australians, that an estimated 72 per cent of the nation is already in favor [sic] of equal marriage," he writes, adding: "Imagine what you could do with that money instead?"
Noting that "in Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 44 and that same-sex attracted Australians have up to 14 times higher rate of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers," Hayes tells Turnbull: "I also know you’re aware this is deeply rooted in the sense of shame and rejection that comes from living in a society where being LGBT is considered ‘less than’.
"I struggled tremendously with anxiety and depression related in part to my sexuality and growing up in a time when to be gay felt to me like a death sentence," he writes. "I was bullied, I was tormented and eventually I convinced myself the person my Mother gave birth to was something to be ashamed of."
Speaking of his own marriage, Hayes writes that "being able to marry the person [he loves]" and have his marriage recognised by law "probably saved [his] life".
"Getting married had an instant and profound affect on the way I felt about myself, about how my community saw me, and on my own mental health," he writes, adding that "Most LGBT Australians do not yet know what that feels like."
"It is 2016 and it’s time for Australia to get on the right side of history," Hayes pleads. "You have the power to send a message to every confused teenager, every bullied kid, every suicidal LGBT person - that they live in a society where they matter."
Calling the marriage equality plebiscite "redundant and quite frankly insulting", Hayes concludes that there are "better uses for 160 million dollars" than to ask a question that "the nation and much of the world has already answered".
"The answer is YES," he writes. "Yes to equality".