Celebrations broke out across Australia on Wednesday after the results of a two-month national postal survey came out “overwhelmingly” in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
? THANK YOU ?
This all happened because of you.
We did this together. pic.twitter.com/4vWuIj9bpB
— AU Marriage Equality (@AMEquality) 14 November 2017
The people of Australia have taken a decisive step towards legislating marriage equality by Christmas after 61.6% of voters in an unprecedented national postal survey approved a change to the law to allow couples of the same sex to marry.
According to results released on Wednesday, by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 61% of the population voted to allow same-sex marriage, with 38% voting against.
Jubilant supporters have been celebrating in public spaces, waving rainbow flags and singing and dancing.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s Marriage Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced into the Senate late on Wednesday. It will now be debated for amendments on Thursday.
Speaking after the announcement of the results, Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it had been an “overwhelming” response in favor of “yes” and called for same-sex marriage to be legalized before Christmas.
“I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.”
“They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it.”
Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told the Melbourne rally the postal vote itself should never have happened.
“I feel for young people who had their relationships questioned in a way I wouldn’t have thought we would see ever again, but nevertheless what this marriage equality survey shows is that unconditional love always has the last word,” he said.
Meanwhile, politicians are expected to begin discussing the specifics of the same-sex marriage bill as early as this week.
However, even ahead of the release of the results, conservative politicians inside the Australian parliament were preparing for a fight over how marriage equality would be legalized.
What Stirred The Vote?
The survey was voluntary, unlike Australia’s compulsory elections.
More than 12.7 million people – about 79.5% of eligible voters – took part in the eight-week poll, which asked one question: “Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
The Yes campaign argued that it was a debate about equality. The No campaign put the focus on the definition of family, raising concerns about how issues like gender will be taught in schools.