After a long campaign for marriage equality that resulted in a $122 million postal survey, the day has finally come where Australia has their results. And it was a huge YES response!
Australia votes yes to marriage equality
Eligible Australians were asked the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” and 61.6% (7.8 million) voted ‘yes’ and 38.4% (4.8 million) selected ‘no’.
At 10 am this morning, Australian Statistician David Kalisch announced the results to the public. The response rate to the survey was 79.5% and over 70% of each age group voted, despite the media voicing concerns that younger age groups would fail to post their votes.
Interestingly, the youngest eligible Australians were among the highest participation group, with a response rate of 78.2%.
What happens now?
Since the announcement, Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has made it clear that Australians have spoken, and it’s up to politicians to act. He said that Australians have “voted yes for fairness, they voted yes for commitment, they voted yes for love”. He stated that the response from Australians in the postal vote “is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. They are our masters. It is up to us to get on with it”. He wants legislation passed by Christmas.
Today, Bill Shorten said “Today we celebrate. Tomorrow we legislate.”
The process to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia could begin as early as Thursday, with two bills being presented to the Senate.
One bill, drafted by Liberal MP Dean Smith has been discussed and is widely accepted but is yet to be voted on. The Greens and Labor have both said that they will support it. Meanwhile, the alternate bill put forward by Liberal senator James Paterson is a lot more controversial. Paterson’s bill has some exemptions so that churches will be able to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. Senator Penny Wong has stated that this bill is a ‘licence to discriminate’.
Parliament begins sitting on November 27.
What will change for same-sex couples?
Of course, when the bill is passed, same-sex couples will legally be able to be married under Australian law! But in addition, the institution of marriage improves the legal rights of same-sex couples significantly. For example: in that they will be able to make legal medical decisions for one another in the event of one being admitted to hospital, gaining custody of their partners child in the event of death or an accident would be easier from a legal standpoint and as a spouse, they would legally be able to claim life insurance.
City of Sydney plans to allow same-sex couples to marry for free
The City of Sydney has announced that they will allow same-sex couples to marry for free in all of their public venues, including town halls, parks, and community centres, waiving all fees. The Sydney Town Hall will also allegedly be opened for a “mass marriage ceremony”.
Easy Weddings fully supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage. According to our yearly survey data, the vast majority of Easy Weddings users are supportive of marriage equality in Australia. Out of 3,300 Australian couples surveyed, 82% believe that same-sex marriage should be legalised.