15 November 2017Hot off the Press
After a highly emotional public debate riddled by misinformation and forced justification, the Australian people have voted ‘Yes’ to legalise same-sex marriage.
The ABS announced on Wednesday morning 61.6% of eligble voters ticked ‘Yes’ in the non-binding, non-compulsory $122 million postal survey, with 38.4% of voters ticking ‘No’.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the press:
I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people.
We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. They are our masters, we who were elected to parliament.
It is our job now to get on with it, get on with it and get this done. It is fair. The people have voted yes for marriage equality. Now it is our job to deliver it.
Vocal ‘No’ campaigner Liberal Senator Eric Abetz issued a brief statement on the ‘Yes’ victory:
The decision by the Australian people reflected in the postal survey is a decision that I regret but respect.
Changing a fundamental societal institution that pre-existed the nation-state is something which should rightly be decided by the people as a whole and it has been with a very strong turnout despite claims from many quarters that this process would fail.
While disappointed by the result, I am heartened by the strong “no” vote in the face of such a relentless campaign from the “yes” campaign by the media, political elites and celebrities.
To all Australians thank you for standing up for fairness and equality. To my colleagues and all those who fought for this great outcome, thank you. pic.twitter.com/g8gaQJtzyC
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) November 15, 2017
On Wednesday afternoon a bill was introduced to the Senate in the name of Senators Dean Smith, Linda Reynolds, Penny Wong, Louise Pratt, Richard di Natale and Janet Rice, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Derryn Hinch, and Jane Hume. The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 is understood to be preferred by most Parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, over Senator James Paterson’s significantly more complex Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 (PDF), which has reportedly been rejected by the Government.
It is expected that the legislation will be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before Parliament breaks for the year on Thursday 7 December 2017.
After a nervous morning, fearing the prospect of a “No” victory, 22 year-old Josh Campbell told OPMG he is feeling relieved more than anything.
“I think as the days and weeks go by it’ll switch from relief to happines,” Mr Campbell said.
“I feel validated, I feel like my beliefs and way of life is viewed by the majority as on equal playing field with conservative religion, and that’s a great feeling. I don’t have a problem with religion at all, I just want to live my life the way I see fit, without imposing on others lives, and this law was one of the last hurdles to that dream.”
Mr Campbell said he believed Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s bill adequately protected religious freedoms, acknowledging it is the perogative of a church not to perform a same-sex wedding. However, he did not extend that belief to businesses.
“No business should be able to refuse service to anybody based on religious opposition to same sex couples or marriage.”
Young Liberal and staunch traditional marriage support Andrew Kennedy told OPMG he was disappointed by the outcome but respected Australia’s choice.
“Obviously it’s slightly disappointing, no one likes to lose,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said he was not satisfied with the religious and individual protections in Senator Smith’s bill, adding he supported the somewhat controversial bill proposed by Liberal Senator James Patterson.
“It is important that we don’t have people being forced to do things.”
He also said he had no personal regrets regarding the debate, saying the ‘No’ camp conducted themselves “honestly and respectfully”.
The Twittersphere was awash with commentary on the result, with former Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam tweeting:
sorry for everyone who got hurt being dragged through this godawful unnecessary process. never again.
— Scott Ludlam (@Scottludlam) November 15, 2017
Barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside, and columnist Adam Liaw expressed similar sentiments on the need for a speedy legislative implementation of the survey result:
The government has spent $122 million to find out that we approve of MarriageEquality (duh!)https://t.co/QltBts35Ho
Can the parliamentarians who are still allowed to sit please act accordingly?
Do they represent us, or did they just throw away $122 million?
— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) November 15, 2017
Just to be clear, now that the #MarriageEquality results are in and resounding, my tolerance of any politician dicking around with the legislative process on this is EXACTLY ZERO.
— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) November 14, 2017
Meanwhile Nick Evershed of the Guardian drew attention to an “important data visualisation” of the results:
— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) November 14, 2017