John Challis and Arthur Cheeseman have been together since 1967 and now they are finally planning their wedding.
After Australians voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in a national postal survey, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told same-sex couples that they can start their wedding preparations as he hopes to pass a marriage equality bill by the end of the year.
Challis, 89, and Cheeseman, 85, told The Telegraph that the historic vote “gives us a new dignity.” The Sydney couple met in 1967 when they left an art gallery event at the same time and “just happened to smile at each other.”
They have started discussing their wedding, but don’t expect a big blow out affair. The couple wants to get married “not with any fuss.”
“Just very quietly… very simple. That’s it. I have got a 90th birthday coming up next year. We might combine it with that,” Cheeseman told ABC Radio.
Cheeseman and Challis plan on making it official at a nearby registry office or at their home in Sydney with a civil celebrant and “a cup of coffee.”
On Tuesday, November 14, the Australian Statistics Bureau announced the results of the national postal survey: Aussies overwhelmingly said “Yes” to same-sex marriage, by a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%. An estimated 12.7 million Australians, or 79.5% of the entire electorate, turned in ballots before the survey ended on November 7.
The survey is not legally binding, but will fuel efforts in parliament to pass an equal-marriage law as early as Christmas. Liberal Party Senator Dean Smith says he will introduce a marriage bill immediately, and has support from Liberal, Labor, and Green senators.
The vote means more than just being able to be married, for Cheeseman he sees it as an endorsement of the LGBT community.
“It gives us a new dignity, a new status, a new place in society. We are the same as everyone else,” he commented.
As for the 38% who voted “no” on legalizing same-sex marriage?
“We hope that they get used to us. They will soon find out that it is not the end of civilization.”