After months of the same-sex marriage debate dominating public and political discourse, Australians have finally set the record straight.
We back marriage equality!
With 80 percent of Australians voting in the voluntary survey and 61.6 percent of Australians voting yes, it’s a decisive victory and one that will see Tony Abbott, Corey Bernardi and their dinosaur mates undoubtedly end the day in a terrible mood. (Especially given Abbott’s own seat of Warringah recorded a whopping 75 percent yes vote.)
Meanwhile, the rest of Australia is tossing confetti and waving rainbow flags loudly and proudly. A timely reminder that Australia is wholeheartedly strong, united and progressive.
Prominent LGBTQI advocate and Deputy Executive of AIDS Action Council, Sue Webeck, told Women’s Agenda that this result will have a resounding impact on Australia’s quest for greater equality.
“This result doesn’t just signify members of our LGBTQI communities’ ability to marry the person they love,” she said. “It signifies a much broader understanding and recognition of equality. This is a step towards ensuring our young people, our isolated community members, every member of our community know that they are equal and valued within this country.”
As a gay woman herself with a young family, Webeck concedes that the last few months have been difficult. She’s endured threats, offensive comments and has often felt tired by the subject’s dominance in general conversation.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to worrying about regular things, without this hanging like a dark cloud above everything else” she says.
Most crucially, she’s thankful that this debate no longer need disrupt the lives of her two seven-year old twin girls.
“I’m looking forward to my little ones not feeling like they need to go to rallies to prove to others that their family is legitimate and frankly awesome,” she says.
But even with doubt laid to rest about Australia’s support for same-sex marriage, there is still a giant elephant sitting ominously in Parliament. Will Malcolm Turnbull finally legislate this reform in the way we want it?
It’s no secret that a feud is simmering within Government ranks about the shape of the bill and whether or not it comes encumbered by discriminatory restrictions.
In response to Liberal James Paterson’s proposal to amend the Marriage Act, Turnbull said yesterday that he would not support the extension of religious protections which are discriminatory. He did suggest however, that Paterson was within his rights to propose the changes.
“Assuming there is a Yes vote—the pollsters will really be rocked if there isn’t—but assuming there is, there will be a Private Members Bill and amendments can be moved and if people want to move an amendment of that kind, well, you know, they can.”
“But I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the Government would not countenance, making legal discrimination that is unlawful today.”
Following the result this morning, Turnbull added that we must respect the voice of the people and get on with the task of delivering marriage equality.
“Australians have turned out in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes. they voted yes for marriage equality, they voted yes for fairness, they voted yes for commitment, they voted yes for love,” he declared passionately.
“And now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it. To get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done, this year, before Christmas. That must be our commitment.”
Turnbull’s sentiment is strong, but it’s hard to take solace in his word alone. Particularly when we know the influence Liberal conservatives have had on his decisions in the past.
After all, Turnbull was elected amidst the general expectation that he would legislate same-sex marriage quickly. Instead, he cut a deal with the Liberal right to take-over Abbott’s prime ministership and in doing so, forsook his role as leader and his capacity to legalise same-sex marriage seamlessly.
In the months since, Turnbull’s scrambled to regain credibility—failing to pass any major legislation in his time as PM. Former Liberal leader, John Hewson recently referred to him as nothing more than an “expensive aberration.”
But with the yes vote passing and Australians feeling hopeful for the first time in months, Turnbull is left with a final opportunity to leave at least one resounding legacy as leader. Let’s hope Jurassic Park doesn’t stop him in his tracks.