It is the victory that Malcolm Turnbull now claims as one of his greatest achievements as prime minister.
But as Australia marks the first anniversary of the resounding victory of the Yes campaign to allow same-sex couples to marry, activists have lashed out at the former PM’s attempts to claim credit.
One year on, 5365 same sex-couples have married in Australia.
Gay women have proved more likely than men to marry, with the most weddings celebrated in NSW and Victoria.
“It said a lot about our commitment to democracy, equality and a fair go. Congratulations Australia,” Mr Turnbull said in a triumphant Twitter post on Wednesday.
“A year has passed and nearly five thousand same sex couples have been married. A Yes vote of more than 60% and nearly 80% of Australians voted – in a voluntary postal ballot,” he said,
A year has passed and nearly five thousand same sex couples have been married. A Yes vote of more than 60% and nearly 80% of Australians voted – in a voluntary postal ballot. It said a lot about our commitment to democracy, equality and a fair go. Congratulations Australia! https://t.co/usFKKA75xz
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 14, 2018
But activists, who always opposed a postal plebiscite as a referendum on their relationships, remain furious with the Mr Turnbull for not simply allowing Parliament to vote on the legislation.
Marriage equality campaigner Sally Rugg said the process was not something gays and lesbians could ever celebrate.
“I want people to remember that 85 per cent of LGBTIQ community said they would rather delay the reform than endure the survey. We fought to stop a plebiscite for an entire year, successfully blocking it in Parliament,” Ms Rugg said in her own Twitter post this week.
“The survey was not only a complete charade, unrelated to the real pathway to reform, but was extremely distressing for many LGBTIQ people and their families,” she added.
Ms Rugg said she personally found the one-year anniversary to be very unsettling and upsetting.
“And so – celebrate with us the beautiful photos of couples on their wedding days. Celebrate with us on the 7th of December when we passed the law. Celebrate with us this Christmas where every person around the table has the same rights of the person they’re pulling a cracker with,” she said.
“(But) remember that for many LGBTIQ people, this Thursday feels like marking a bittersweet survival, filled with latent anger and mourning. Speak thoughtfully.”
As we approach the anniversary of the postal survey Yes vote, I want to remind people that the LGBTIQ community in its majority never wanted this vote to happen, because I think keeping that in mind will be important in the next few days.
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) November 12, 2018
According to the Bureau of Statistics, 7.8 million Australians (61.6 per cent of eligible voters) supported legalising same-sex marriage in Australia.
The “No” voters, who included Prime Minister Scott Morrison, secured 4.8 million votes, 38.4 per cent of the survey’s participants.
“This is not your victory Malcolm. I just wrote a story up about the history and you dragged your feet at every turn. The people did this, not you. Thank them and stop trying to take credit,” Get Up founder Amanda Tattersall said.
Mr Turnbull was lashed by critics in social media for his celebration of the postal plebiscite victory.
“You could have voted in the legislation. Instead you made us vote humans equal. What a disgraceful thing to do! Parents had to vote their children equal. Why didn’t you just pass the legislation,” David Leigh said.
Other’s described the decision to hold a plebiscite as “disgraceful’ and and accused he Turnbull government of being dragged “kicking and screaming” along the path to marriage equality.
The decision to embrace a postal plebiscite, championed as a circuit breaker by Peter Dutton, followed Malcolm Turnbull’s refusal to dump his election promise to hold a referendum into same sex marriage.
That proposal was blocked by Parliament but Mr Turnbull could not simply allow a vote without igniting a firestorm within the Liberal Party.
But it was the actions of five Liberal backbenchers – Dean Smith, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson and Warren Entsch – that forced the government to act after they left the door open to crossing the floor and called for the postal plebiscite to be dumped and a free vote for all MPs.
It didn’t happen but the change they sought was delivered albeit by a mechanism that WA Liberal MP Dean Smith also bitterly opposed.