That’s the resounding response from Australians in the same-sex marriage postal survey, the results of which were announced on Wednesday morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to high emotion and jubilation around the country.
A crowd of hundreds gathered in Brisbane in Queen’s Park to hear that 61.6% of the country had voted “yes,” including 60.6% of Queenslanders.
The Equality Campaign’s Shirleene Robinson stood alongside her wife Sarah and told the Brisbane crowd Australia had resoundingly voted for equality after more than a decade of campaigning.
“It’s incredible to see such strong support for LGBTI rights across the country voting to include every Australian in our marriage laws. This is truly a unifying moment for the nation,” she said.
“For more than a decade, our campaign has worked hard to bring Australians together to achieve this reform and ensure all Australians are treated with the same dignity and respect.
“A fair go is at the heart of Australian society and our laws should reflect the values of which we are most proud.”
Brisbane couple Scott and Brad, who were in Queens Park to watch the result, said they were getting married next September.
“For years we’ve felt like we’ve had to hide our sexuality,” Brad said.
“It’s the most unbelievable thing to have Australia back you in such large numbers across the nation.”
Veteran equality campaigner Bill Rutkin spoke of the emotion he felt reflecting on how far Australia had progressed on LGBTI rights.
“It’s almost 50 years since the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) began in Queensland,” he said.
“I was the youngest member, and we eventually set up the CAMP Club on 379 George Street. I almost burst into tears thinking about how far our community has come.
“We still need the politicians to do their bit but we’ve finally found our place in our sun.”
I don’t know these people. I don’t know their stories, how they grew up, where they come from. But I do know one thing: we’re all the same, and we all want the same thing: A fair shot at this amazing thing called life, and the chance to walk life’s path alongside the people we hold dearest to us. Love is non-negotiable. Equality is meant for all. 🌈 #voteyes #postyouryes #marriageequality #equality #brisbane #queensland #rainbowflag #equalrights #lgbtiq
The Brisbane event was just one of several major marriage equality parties held around the country, as thousands gathered to celebrate the announcement of the result.
— Lisa Visentin (@LisaVisentin) November 14, 2017
The ABS’ chief statistician David Kalisch announced the final count in the survey was:
YES: 7,817,247 – 61.6%
NO: 4,873,987 – 38.4%
Every state and territory had a majority ‘Yes’ vote of more than 60% with the exception of New South Wales at 57.8%.
The ABS said 12,727,920 of the 16 million eligible voters had had their say, a huge 79.5 per cent return.
You can see a full electorate breakdown of the vote at the ABS website here.
— AU Marriage Equality (@AMEquality) November 15, 2017
What happens next?
It is now up to our Members of Parliament to transform the majority view into legislation so Australia joins the 24 countries worldwide where same-sex marriage is legal.
A cross-party group of senators – led by Liberal Dean Smith and including Labor’s Penny Wong and Greens leader Richard DiNatale, among others – will introduce a private member’s bill to the upper house on Wednesday.
Debate on the bill is set to start on Thursday, amid fierce debate around exemptions allowing religious organisations and service providers to refuse same-sex weddings.
The Equality Campaign’s Alex Greenwich said: “Parliament still has to pass Australia’s unequivocal mandate for equality into law. And you can be sure we’ll hold them to that – we expect a timely vote on a fair and simple bill, this year.
“But for now we celebrate YES.”
— ABC Politics (@politicsabc) November 15, 2017