From the beginning, Australia’s LGBT community opposed putting marriage equality to a public vote. But when it was, they fought doggedly to win.
And that determination paid off: At approximately 6:05pm EST, 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 to begin debate on Thursday.
But even as love won the day, it came at a ugly cost: As activists predicted, the survey fueled homophobic flyers, messages, and campaigns across Australia. In Melbourne, a poster surfaced showing two men gripping rainbow belts in front of a scared child, with the tagline “Stop the fags.”
“It has been virtually impossible for anyone who identifies as queer to avoid exposure to views which condemn who they are as a person,” said Matilda Alexander of the LGBTI Legal Service. “The LGBTI community has had to put up with weeks of destructive commentary which only takes society backwards on the progress which has lead to broader acceptance of LGBTI people in the last 30 years.”
Aussie celebs like Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Ian Thorpe, and Kylie Minogue all stepped up to encourage “Yes” votes.
“I believe in allowing people who love each other to share their lives together and to honor it,” said Nicole Kidman earlier thus year. “I really believe we should stay out of people’s business, I just love when people love each other and want that to be acknowledged.”
City officials in Sydney have promised free weddings in public buildings and parks to same-sex couples for 100 days should Australia pass marriage equality.