Macarthur marriage equality advocates celebrate 'yes' vote

Revellers celebrated at Prince Alfred Park at in Sydney as the live announcement was read. Picture: James Brickwood
Revellers celebrated at Prince Alfred Park at in Sydney as the live announcement was read. Picture: James Brickwood

Macarthur Law Society president and marriage equality advocate Brett McGrath is “ecstatic” at today’s postal survey result.

The voluntary postal survey on same sex marriage has been a huge topic of conversation in Australia for the past few months, and people across the nation have been waiting for the result with heavy anticipation.

Brett McGrath voting yes in the marriage equality survey.

Brett McGrath voting yes in the marriage equality survey.

Mr McGrath spent this morning at Prince Alfred Park with other marriage equality supporters in Sydney awaiting the live announcement of the result.

He said it was an unbelievable feeling listening to the ‘yes’ vote being announced.

“Everyone here is singing Love is in the Air,” he said.

“I am ecstatic at the result. I’ve personally had a lot of support from the community throughout this whole thing.

“I still would have preferred we didn’t have the survey, but the result is great.”

Mr McGrath said the 61 per cent yes vote confirmed for all Australians that our people were “decent” and “caring”.

Of all Australia’s states and territories, NSW returned the lowest percentage of yes votes, just 57.7 per cent.

“We can now move ahead with equality for everyone,” he said.

“We can start working on getting the legislation passed and being to live in a society that supports all its people.”

Mr McGrath said he was also recently appointed as one of five people to sit on a NSW Law Society panel to review same-sex marriage legislation.

Supporters at Prince Alfred Park. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Supporters at Prince Alfred Park. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Macarthur’s marriage equality advocates Kristy and Rachelle Millers were “overwhelmed” with relief when they heard the postal survey returned a yes result.

“I was in the car with my wife and we had both taken the day off to hear result,” Kristy said.

“We both had tears when we heard.

“This ends all the nervousness and gives our relationship validity.”

Mrs Millers said she and her wife would celebrate the result with  “the good champagne” tonight.

She said the result signified that her marriage was just as “valid” as the unions of other Australians’.

Kristy and Rachelle Millers with their children.

Kristy and Rachelle Millers with their children.

The Millers’ got married in Thailand and plan to get remarried formally in Australia.

“We want to celebrate on the same day that we already got married so our kids and family can join us,” she said.

“We are looking forward to that day.

“We wanted our relationship to be valid before our kids went to school.”

Despite the divisive nature of the postal survey, Mrs Millers was pleased to see a “positive” outcome.

“The postal survey was set up to fail,” she said.

“It was designed so 18 and 19-year-olds would not vote because some have never posted a letter before. The yes percentage would have been higher if it was run online.

“At the end of the day everyone was allowed to stand up and have their say and it was great to see how passionate people were.

“I want to thanks those young people who got themselves on the electoral roll and had their say.”

Mrs Millers said the hurtful comments on social media affected her even though she had been openly gay for 20 years and had a strong support system.

“I would watch social media and the comments affected me but I was even more worried about how the no campaign would affect kids in high school who were unsure about their sexuality,” she said.

“The no campaign talked how marriage equality would impact schools, education and freedom of speech which is bullshit.

“The majority of Australians saw through that, which is pretty damn good.

“All we need now is for our politicians to get on with it and do their job.”

The federal government must now introduce and vote on legislation to amend the Marriage Act and make same-sex marriages legal.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this morning he wanted marriage equality to be legalised before Christmas.

Two bills will be introduced to the Senate as early as Thursday. 

Hume MP Angus Taylor said there had been “tremendous engagement” from the community on the postal survey.

“As I have outlined publicly, I will be supporting the passage of legislation through the Lower House that will make same-sex marriage law in this country,” the Liberal MP said.

“This is what the majority of Australian people who voted have decided.

“To everyone in Hume who took the time to send back the survey and engage in this public debate, thank you for your participation.

“It is a richer, more robust discussion when all sides are represented.”

Mr Taylor said he would be “looking carefully” in the coming days and weeks at the discussion around protection of freedoms in the bill being put to Parliament.

“These protections are critical,” he said.

“Let’s see where we are at when the Lower House sits again in two weeks.”

The Hume electorate was slightly below the national result (58.5 per cent compared to 61.6 per cent) for yes votes, with a 78.9 per cent participation rate.

Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander is “delighted” that the ‘yes’ vote has prevailed.

He said the debate was a “human rights issue” and he was glad to see the majority of Australians supported equality.

“This is a really good outcome for everyone,” the Labor said.

“It was about time. We’ve finally moved into the modern world.”

The federal MP said the next step was getting the bill through Parliament.

“I’ll certainly be doing whatever I can to move it along,” he said.

“I’ve already received a few nastily-worded emails this morning from people trying to obfuscate the result.

“A lot of this is on the back of [conservative MP] James Patterson’s [rival] bill.”

He hopes to see the bill passed before Christmas.