News National ‘Get on with it’: Australia set to have marriage equality before Christmas

‘Get on with it’: Australia set to have marriage equality before Christmas

marriage equality
Australians backed same-sex marriage in the national postal survey. Photo: AAP
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared the same-sex marriage survey result an “unequivocal” vote for “fairness”, “commitment” and “love”, saying the Australian people have told politicians to “get this done”.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘Yes’ for marriage equality,” Mr Turnbull said at Parliament House minutes after the result.

“And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it.” 

Malcolm Turnbull says the Parliament will deal with same-sex marriage before Christmas. Photo: AAP

The Prime Minister, who voted ‘Yes’ and whose government established the voluntary postal survey, confirmed there would now be a free vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage.

“I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people,” he said. 

“We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.”

Thousands of Australians gathered on Wednesday morning to hear the results at live events at capital cities across the country, with confetti falling and music blaring at some locations when the ‘Yes’ result was announced.

Amid jubilant scenes at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, Liberal councillor Christine Forster declared the result a “seminal moment”.

“This is a point in our history that will never be forgotten,” said Ms Forster, the sister of former prime minister and active ‘no’ campaigner, Tony Abbott.

Ms Forster has already announced plans to marry her partner Virginia on February 2.

marriage equality
Nearly 80 per cent of Australians voted in the postal survey. Photo: AAP

Addressing the Sydney crowd, comedian Magda Szubanksi said if the result was a ‘No’, she would “never have treated anyone who voted ‘No’ with anything less than respect”.

“I would never not serve them. I would never not be funny for them,” she said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, a same-sex marriage supporter, hailed the outcome at a ‘Yes’ campaign event in Melbourne, saying “today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate”.

“You shouldn’t have had to put up with this survey, but you embraced it,” he said.

“I feel for young people who have had their relationships questioned in a way which I wouldn’t have thought we would see ever again, but nonetheless, what this marriage equality survey shows is that unconditional love always has the last word.”

Labor Senator Penny Wong, who is in a long-term same-sex relationship, broke down in tears when the result was announced.

Christine Forster has plans to marry her partner next year. Photo: AAP

While many LGBT Australians had not wanted the survey, Senator Wong said she hoped her community could view the result as “message of solidarity, of support, of decency from your fellow Australians”. 

Penny Wong broke down in tears when the result was announced. Photo: AAP

Openly gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, who has penned the same-sex marriage bill that will be debated in the Senate, said Australians had provided a “clear outcome”. 

Gay couples will not be able to marry until Parliament passes legislation to enact the reform, but the government expects this will happen before Christmas.

The debate will now turn to the way the social reform is enacted, with some pushing for a rolling back of anti-discrimination laws to protect religious freedom.

In an interview on Sky News, ‘No’ advocate Liberal MP Kevin Andrews said he believed Jewish bakers should be able to refuse service for Islamic weddings, and vice versa.

“I have never been more proud to stand up and represent Australian people than I was this morning when I listened to that result,” Senator Smith said, flanked by Senator Wong and other prominent ‘Yes’ supporting politicians.

“I don’t have a problem if there was a gay baker who says, ‘I don’t want to bake a cake for a Christian or an Islamic celebration,” he said.

‘No’ campaigner and former PM Tony Abbott said the process showed seeking the views of the public “was the right thing to do”.

“The people have spoken and, of course, the Parliament should respect the result,” said Mr Abbott, whose electorate of Warringah voted 75 per cent in favour of same-sex marriage.

Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said the ‘No’ side was “naturally disappointed” but accepted and respected the result.

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