Marriage: Love and Law exhibition catalogue - Page 131

On 16 November 2017, the day
after the ABS announced the result
of the survey, Senator Dean Smith
(Western Australia and Deputy
Government Whip in the Senate)—
a member of a cross-party group
of parliamentarians advancing
‘yes’—spoke to his fellow
The votes of the Australian people were tallied, and the
Australian people have voted yes to changing the Marriage Act
of our country. I know many people questioned the original
plebiscite. I did. I know many opposed the postal survey. I did.
Many gay and lesbian people felt uncomfortable asking for equal
rights before the law because why should you supplicate for
the same rights and responsibility as others? Nevertheless, we
must acknowledge with awe and gratitude the willingness of our
country men and women to stand beside us, to affirm us and
to join us in voting yes. On behalf of gay, lesbian, transgender,
bisexual and intersex Australians and their families, I say,
with humility and with gratitude, thank you.
The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 came
into effect on 9 December 2017, amending the Marriage Act 1961 to redefine
marriage as ‘the union of two people to the exclusion of all others’. Within six
months, 3,148 same-sex couples across Australia had married.
Yesterday we saw a glimpse of the country we all yearn for,
a country that is fair minded, generous and accepting. We saw
a country that was willing to embrace its hopes rather than
hold onto its fears. Many of us across this chamber have seen
something of that great Australian story that compelled us into
public life. For the Liberals and conservatives who yearned for
change, we see in this result the shining city on a hill with more
freedom, more acceptance and more grace. For those opposite,
they have lived out Ben Chifley’s magnificent call to fight for the
right so that truth and justice will prevail.
In many cases, Australians voted for someone they knew,
and in just as many they voted for someone they didn’t.
The wonder of this result is that it brings together young and old,
gay and straight, conservative and progressive, immigrant and
Indigenous, in the most unifying Australian coalition. True, some
wanted a 15-year debate to be over so that we could move on
to other pressing issues, but mostly there was an understanding
by our fellow citizens that the life path for a young gay or lesbian
teenager or young adult is harder than their heterosexual
brothers’ and sisters’. Australians voted to make that path easier.
It wasn’t just a vote of acceptance; it was that deep, loving
embrace of a big family.

94 Sheridan Nilsson
Marriage of Annette
and Kylie
Digital photograph
Courtesy of Annette Cairnduff
and Kylie Gwynne


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