SEXPOL : Addvicates for the YES vote at Prince Alfred Park, Sydney celebrate the verdic of the postal vote on same sex marriage as YES wins in every state, on 15 November 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas
SMH NEWS. SEXPOL?? : A couple embraces to celebrate the yes verdict of ??????s postal vote on same sex marriage in Newtown, Sydney on 15 November 2017. Photo: Anna Kucera
It was a resounding affirmation of a simple proposition. Yes, the love between two same-sex people should be equal in the eyes of the law.
In Sydney, thousands gathered in Prince Alfred Park on Wednesday morning to hear their country’s answer to a permission many believed they should never have been forced to seek.
Nerves stilled the crowd as the result of the $122 million postal survey was delivered solemnly by the government’s chief statistician, David Kalisch.
Then a cautious cheer gave way to deafening jubilation, as he declared 7,817,247 ns – or 61.6 per cent of the country – had voted yes.
The crowd jumped with ecstasy, and relief. Rainbow flags blurred with the sky with a frenzy. Couples grasped one another in long embraces, tears streaming down their cheeks.
Benjamin Oh, 36, and Nam Phan, 35, crouched over their daughter’s pram as she stared back at them, oblivious to the celebrations around her.
They will marry as soon as the Marriage Act is changed. Baby An, seven months old on Wednesday, will likely only remember an where her fathers’ love is entitled to equal recognition before the law.
“We want to protect our little one,” Mr Oh said. “For us it’s about the legal protection.”
For , it was a momentous civil rights milestone. Proof that a country, with a history of obstinacy towards change, had on this occasion embraced it wholeheartedly.
For many older members of the gay community, it was the culmination of a decades-long strong struggle for equality and dignity.
Teresa Savage and her partner of 12 years, Rae Giffin, wept as the verdict was delivered.
“When you’re our age you’ve come on such a long journey. I came out when I was 16 years old, I’m 62 years old now. I couldn’t have imagined this would ever happen,” Ms Savage said.
“We’ve been through so much over the last few weeks. Some of the negativity has been really hard to cope with, and that’s reinforced what’s happened to over us over a very long period of time.”
Forty years ago, Ms Giffin had been at the infamous 1978 Mardi Gras, where hate had spilled from police batons and the gay men and women arrested were unforgivably outed in the pages of The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I cannot believe that we still had to fight so hard for basic civil and human rights,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The longest minute of all preceded the verdict, when the possibility of rejection and its devastating consequences could scarcely be countenance, nor dismissed.
“I was feeling really anxious,” Annaliese Constable, 36, said. “We’re literally talking about my rights and whether or not I feel safe walking the down the street holding my partner’s hand.”
In the end, the result – hailed as a landslide victory by the “yes” campaign – revealed the embarrassing intransigence of ‘s federal Parliament on an question which the majority of the n public clearly had no quarrel.
Every state and territory recorded a majority “Yes” result. Nationally, 133 of the 150 federal electorates voted “yes”, 95 of them emphatically so. Just 17 electorates returned a majority “no” result.
And with a survey return rate nudging 80 per cent, ‘s verdict was unimpeachable.
“ns can have confidence these statistics reflect the view of the eligible population,” Mr Kalisch said.
Grasping his partner, Mr Oh said ns had declared “enough was enough.”
“They are demanding parliament and the leaders of this country no longer delay. They are done with discrimination. That’s history now.”
There is every sign the next milestone is imminent.
Shortly after the verdict was delivered, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rallied his colleagues to “get this done” before Christmas. By Wednesday afternoon, a bill to make marriage equality legal in had been tabled in the Senate.