Australia has said yes to marriage equality – and in central Victoria, it was overwhelmingly so. In the federal seat of Bendigo, 92,000 people took part in the postal survey and more than two-thirds, or 68.7 per cent of respondents, want our LGBTIQ community to be able to marry those they love.
Across the nation, respondents in 133 of 150 Australian electorates voted in favour of the simple, one-sentence proposition: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
It is a clear signal that Australia is a nation that favours inclusion and fairness – a nation that says discrimination is wrong.
For too long, the prejudice that existed in many corners of Australia robbed others of relationships, community, a sense of belonging - and love.
There were still many who returned a ‘no’ response in the postal vote, so that prejudice still exists and we need to continue to work towards a more inclusive and equal Australia for all – but the results showed we are making good progress.
Two people who love each other, should be able to – and they should have exactly the same rights as others ready to make a commitment. Without prejudice. Without judgement. Without fear.
It’s now up to our politicians to listen to the majority of Australians and afford our LGBTIQ community those very rights. Human rights, already afforded so many others.
But, where to from here?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the result and called on parliament to respect the will of the people. He wants legislation passed by Christmas, and debate may start in the Senate this week. Mr Turnbull is right. The people have spoken, and all MPs in “yes” voting electorates must recognise this. If they vote with their electors, the law will change, and the right thing will have been done.