Advocates Rejoice After Long Battle For Equality

Shelly Argent Marriage Equality

It took some 56 hours of debate in parliament, but a lot longer for marriage equality advocates such as Parents and Friends Of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokeswoman Shelley Argent.

When parliament finally voted to legalise same-sex marriage tonight, it was the end of a long road.

Ms Argent (pictured), a long-time advocate for LGBTIQ rights, said she lobbied for the bill because of her love for her gay son, James.

“I don’t care if he ever gets married – I just wanted him to have the right,” she said.

Principal sponsor of the bill, Liberal Senator Dean Smith, said it was a great win for Australian values.

“The (postal) survey said a lot about people’s attitudes to same-sex marriage, it said a lot about their attitudes about Australian values and how they should be applied in a contemporary way.

“I would like to dedicate the day’s win to a special group of people, and that is to those young LGBTQI Australians, who in their workplace or in their school yard, find life a little tough.

“Let me tell you, ‘you are OK, it will all be OK, and this is a great country to grow up and be an LGBTQI Australian’.”

Actress Magda Szubanski celebrated in the minutes after the vote by singing the song, ‘Chapel of Love’, dancing alongside former prime minister Tony Abbott’s lesbian sister Christine Forster.

“This is huge, all of us would never have thought this was possible… it’s taken a long time,” Szubanski, who has been a vocal champion of the marriage equality campaign, said.

“When I watched all of those people move to the yes side of the House, I thought Canberra was going to tip over.

“For someone who grew up feeling on the brink of suicide, seriously, as so many of us have because we have felt unwanted, unloved, we felt loathed… to feel so loved now and to see Parliament nearly tip over in support for us was an amazing feeling.

“The Australian people are the ones who did it … and finally, the pollies have come through as well. Thank you Australia.”

Cr Forster, who is a Liberal councillor for the City of Sydney, was just as pleased.

“Everybody played their part and everybody had their say … the main thing was we got the right result in the end.

“What a moment for the country … democracy has been served.”

Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe said it was a momentous day for Australia and “I am proud to call myself an Australian, as much as I have any other day of my life”.

Thorpe said he realised what it means for young LGBTQI people, right across the country, for them to know that the person that they love, the way that they feel, is equal to that of anyone else and the change that that will mean for future generations is significant.

“I’m really also very thankful for our straight brothers and sisters, who quite literally, without them and their voting for us, this would never have happened,” he said.

“And it means that we have created an Australia that is more equitable, that’s more fair and more just.”

Rainbow Families convenor Felicity Marlowe said she was pretty used to her three children saying ‘Are we there yet?’ on every single car trip.

“I’m pretty happy to call them and say ‘We’re there, we’ve done it,” she said.

“I’m also anticipating a lot of interesting bedtime conversations happening tonight, with a lot of parents being put under the pump about when they’re going to have a flower person and a dress made and where they’re going to get that amazing cake made from which particular bakery.

“It’s an amazing day for rainbow families, it’s fantastic for the LGBTIQ community but our children and our families are so much a part of that.

“To everyone who’s worked so hard over these last 14 years, I would just like to say thank you, and what a great day for Australia and a great day for equality.”

Rod Gardiner

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