Bendigo Says Yes members travel to Canberra for historic vote on same-sex marriage

BUMPER: Nat Wingrave and Harry McAnulty set out for Canberra, ready to celebrate marriage equality becoming law. Picture: MARK KEARNEY
BUMPER: Nat Wingrave and Harry McAnulty set out for Canberra, ready to celebrate marriage equality becoming law. Picture: MARK KEARNEY

‘Yes’ campaigners will travel from Bendigo to Canberra this week to watch history unfold, with federal MPs expected to legalise marriage equality within days. 

Having already won the support of the Senate, the Marriage Amendment Bill was brought before the House of Representatives this morning, about the same time Bendigo Says Yes campaigners Nathan Wingrave and Harry McAnulty set out for the capital.

“I think this is a piece of history and considering all the work of Bendigo Says Yes, and the high turnout, it’s good for us to show our support,” Mr Wingrave said.

“I’m hoping it will pass without too many bumps along the way.” 

Both he and Mr McAnulty believed conservative MPs would argue individuals whose religions were not in favour of marriage equality should be able to deny their services to gay couples.  

But Mr Wingrave, an Anglican, said there was already enough protection of religious freedoms under the law. 

LONG BATTLE: Since the survey was announced in August, the pair both campaigned for marriage reform in Bendigo.

LONG BATTLE: Since the survey was announced in August, the pair both campaigned for marriage reform in Bendigo.

He hoped his church would eventually agree to officiate weddings between two people of the same sex, like the Anglican churches in Canada and Scotland already did.

Mr McAnulty said he expected a celebratory mood once the bill was enacted, much like what could be seen in the Senate last Wednesday when the legislation passed 43 votes to 12. 

“A lot of people will be very relieved and very happy that we’ve got to a point where this is now enshrined in law,” he said.

“I think people will be overwhelmed.”

It was indeed an emotional start to the debate on Monday when Goldstein MP Tim Wilson proposed to his partner, Ryan Bolger, from the floor of parliament.

Mr Bolger’s ‘yes’ reponse was read into Hansard by deputy speaker Rob Mitchell. 

Lower house debate was expected to last 15 or more hours, with a vote expected either late Tuesday or on Wednesday.

But the Bendigo contingent were in for the long haul, with Mr Wingrave saying they would remain in Canberra until Wednesday.  

They would meet with MPs and Victorian Trades Hall members who were also gathering at Parliament House.

The lower house vote comes four months after the same-sex marriage survey was first announced.