Australia's PM wants marriage equality by Christmas after 'overwhelming' vote
Same-sex marriage postal survey Australia's PM wants marriage equality by Christmas after 'overwhelming' vote
Crowds cheer results of postal survey after divisive three-month campaign, with 61.6% saying yes to same-sex marriage
The Australian parliament must commit to deliver marriage equality by Christmas, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said after an âunequivocal, overwhe lmingâ vote of 61.6% in favour of same-sex marriage in an unprecedented national postal survey.
As nationwide celebrations heralded a result that will give enormous momentum to a final push to achieve the historic social reform, Turnbull moved to head off attempts from conservatives in his ruling Liberal-National Coalition to frustrate or delay the legislative process.I've fallen in love with my country all over again | David Marr Read more
Turnbull said the survey â" which had a participation rate of 79.5% - meant Australians had âspoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equalityâ.
âThey voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. 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 asked us to do and get this done,â he said.
After a national vote that was resisted at every turn by marriage equality adv ocates who viewed it as an affront because it determined the right to equality before the law by a majoritarian vote, prominent LGBTI Australians celebrated that the Australian values of fairness and equality were reflected in the outcome.
Large public gatherings in major cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, saw marriage proposals, tears, and the popping of champagne corks as Australiaâs chief statistician, David Kalisch, announced the result in the capital, Canberra.
In Melbourne 5,000 people outside the State Library of Victoria cheered and danced to Kylie Minogue. In Sydneyâs Prince Alfred Park, John Paul Young sang Love is in the Air.
S wimming champion Ian Thorpe, actor Magda Szubanski, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, and Labor leader in the Senate Penny Wong, were among those overcome with emotion and keen to share their joy with fellow Australians. Celebrities including Minogue, Ellen DeGeneres â" married to Australian-American Portia de Rossi, Apple boss Tim Cook, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau and former British prime minister David Cameron tweeted congratulations.
For Hannah Collins and Heather Ford, there was no time to waste. When Kalisch finally announced that the yes campaign had secured 61.6% of the vote in Australiaâs voluntary same-sex marriage postal survey, Ford proposed. âHeather got down on her knee mate, and the date is 4 April,â Collins said.
Christine Forster, the sister of former prime minister Tony Abbott â" she is in a same-sex relationship an d is a long-term support of marriage equality, while he is an opponent â" punched the air. Szubanski said the result was for âall of usâ.
âNo matter how we want to live our life, we must live as equal people in this country,â she told the crowd.
In Melbourne Andrew Doherty said he could finally plan the beach wedding heâs always dreamed of. He proposed to his partner of three years ahead of the postal vote result announcement on Wednesday.
âIâm not happy we had to have this vote but Iâm happy we have the opportunity to change things. Iâm confident Australia has woken up but Iâm not confident the politicians have, especially given these bills proposed to embed discrimination,â he said.
Every state and territory voted for marriage equality, with the national vote 7,817,247 in favour and 4,873,947 against. The constituencies of central Sydney and Melbourne saw the largest majorities in favour, at 83.7% each. Seventeen of the federal p arliamentâs 150 seats had a majority of no voters, including a conspicuous swathe of western Sydney, a socially conservative and ethnically diverse area.
Crowds gathered in cities across Australia â" at 7am in Perth, and in the rain in Adelaide. âAbsolute elationâ was reported in Brisbane.
At a press conference in Canberra, Wong said: âThank you Australia, thank you for standing up for fairness, thank you for standing up for equality ... for the LGBTI community everywhere ... for the sort of Australia we believe in, that is decent, that is fair, which is accepting, which turns its back on exclusion and division.â
At a rally in Melbourne the opposition leader Bill Shorten promised: âToday we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate.
âIt may have been 61% who voted yes in the survey, but I want to say to all LGBTQI Australians, you are 100% loved, 100% valued and after the next two weeks of Parliament 100% ab le to marry the person you love,â he said.
In a speech after the result the Equality Campaign spokesman, Alex Greenwich, said: âToday love has had a landslide victory.
âTogether we have achieved something truly remarkable, a win for fairness and equality, not only for the LGBTI community and our families, but for all Australians.â
Greenwich said the campaign had made more than one million phone calls and knocked on 100,000 doors, an âunprecedentedâ level of support that had exceeded âany campaign in our historyâ.
âIn doing so it has delivered an unequivocal mandate to federal parliament to vote this through by the end of the year,â he said.
Turnbull, same-sex marriage supporters in Australiaâs ruling Liberal-National party Coalition, the Labor opposition, the Greens and other crossbench parties have reached a consensus around a cross-party bill that makes minimalist changes to protect religious freedom without legalising disc rimination by commercial service providers, such as cake makers, as some conservatives in the Coalition government have demanded.
On Wednesday afternoon the cross-party group capitalised on the mandate in the survey by introducing the bill and a motion that will see the bill debated at length in the sitting week beginning 27 November until it is passed.
Conservatives including Abbott and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, have foreshadowed that they will back amendments in parliament while other government MPs have said they will abstain if they donât get their way on religious protections.
But the cross-party group has sufficient numbers to legislate marriage equality, provided Turnbullâs position that parliament will determine which bill to use and amendments to make holds. The cross-party group were boosted when an alternative bill, by Liberal senator James Paterson, was withdrawn, with Paterson conceding it had no chance o f becoming law.
Same-sex marriage has been banned in Australia since 2004 when the Howard government changed the Marriage Act to define marriage as between a man and a woman. As many comparable countries such as the US and Britain allowed or legislated for same-sex marriage, Australia looked increasingly out of step.
After the successful marriage equality referendum in Ireland in May 2015, pressure grew on the Australian government to legislate but the Coalition party room agreed on a national plebiscite instead.
When Turnbull took the prime ministership from conservative predecessor Tony Abbott in September 2015, he retained the Coalitionâs commitment to hold a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage before changing the law. Opposition parties blocked the compulsory attendance plebiscite, leading the Turnbull government to launch a $122m voluntary national postal survey to fulfil its election commitment to give Australians a say.'Thank you, Australia': Ian Thorpe and Sia among celebrities hailing marriage verdict Read more
In a bruising three-month campaign, opponents of marriage equality claimed same-sex marriage would have far-reaching negative consequences for gender education, religious freedom and freedom of speech.
The yes campâs Equality Campaign combined with moderate Liberals, Labor, the Greens, unions and progressive campaign organisation GetUp to argue that same-sex marriage was a matter of equality, fairness and allowing LGBTI Australians to marry the one they love.
Despite assertions from Turnbull that the survey would be overwhelmingly respectful, the campaign has been marr ed by homophobic incidents and campaign material which continued largely unabated despite a special law passed to apply electoral law safeguards to the survey.
The no campaign took increasingly bizarre turns, with Abbott using an assault that even his attacker said had nothing to do with marriage to rally Australians to his cause, and conservatives attempting to use US rapper Macklemoreâs performance of his hit Same Love at the rugby league grand final to claim the national campaign they called for had inappropriately politicised Australian institutions.Topics
- Same-sex marriage postal survey
- Marriage equality
- LGBT rights
- Australian politics
- Australian law
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share on Google +
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content