When Sydney couple David Wilson and Kyle Moser took over the post office licence in Cobargo, a small country town on the NSW far south coast, they did not anticipate they would find themselves at the centre of the same-sex marriage debate.
“We came here two years ago, and I must admit I did have a few nightmares that it’d be like Priscilla, Queen of Desert and we’d wake up with ‘faggot’ spray-painted all over the post office,” Mr Wilson said.
“But it’s turned out wonderful, it’s such a supportive community.”
After the same-sex marriage postal survey was announced, the couple decided to fly the rainbow flag at the post office as a symbol of diversity and acceptance.
“We thought it was important for people, as they go in to vote, to consider that what might be a quick decision for them really impacts our lives,” Mr Wilson said.
“And not just us, there are a lot of gay and lesbian people in town and surrounding areas.”
The couple did not expect that flying the rainbow flag at the post office would be an issue as they had previously flown it during Mardi Gras weekend and raised the Aboriginal flag on Australia Day weekend.
But after Australia Post received a complaint that the rainbow flag was flying at one of its outlets, they were directed to take it down.
“While we acknowledge that our employees and other representatives are entitled to their individual views, as a government business enterprise Australia Post needs to ensure its post offices and other facilities are not used for making statements on political issues,” an Australia Post spokesperson said in a statement.
Mr Wilson and Mr Moser did not challenge the directive and took the flag down the same day.
So while the flagpole at the post office now stands empty, the town is being transformed into a sea of rainbows.
“It was an immediate reaction. If they couldn’t fly their rainbow, then we’d fly their rainbow for them,” said Ros Hewett from The Bowerbird op shop, where volunteers have hung an improvised rainbow flag made from T-shirts.
“The boys are so well respected, there was no hesitation.”
Mr Moser has seen the support grow with each passing day as businesses and local people put out their rainbow flags in support.
“It just gives me tingles every time I see it,” he said.
The couple also received a flood of rainbow-coloured gifts when news broke of their engagement, including a rainbow-themed spruce-up of their bottle-fed lamb Baa-bie, a gift from the local pet grooming parlour.
Mr Wilson proposed on the same morning the couple received the call from Australia Post to take their flag down.
The couple said they will wait for as long as it takes for them to be married legally.
In the meantime, they are busy sorting and distributing postal ballots.
The post office services around 800 people taking in the town of Cobargo and surrounding localities, and with no mail delivery in town the residents have to come in to the branch to collect their ballots.
As post office licensees, they treat their role in the postal ballot professionally, treating everyone equally and with respect — regardless of how they vote.
Mr Wilson, who previously served on the board of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, said he was “gutted” when it was clear that the same-sex marriage postal survey would even go ahead.
“I think this postal vote is detrimental to the health of many Australians and I don’t think flying the Australian flag is appropriate during this period,” Mr Wilson said.
“It is no secret that this postal ballot is polarising Australians, not just socially but at work and in sport. It is divisive and a regrettable government waste of money.
“Once the result of the postal ballot comes out, whether it’s yes or no, the Australian flag will fly again at the Cobargo Post Office.”
And while they wait for legislation to allow them to marry legally, Mr Wilson and Mr Moser are preparing to invite Cobargo residents to celebrate their commitment at a town-wide engagement party in the coming weeks.