Today’s Yes vote is a momentous statement for LGBTIQ Australians – that we are accepted for who we are. That we too belong. That our love is equal.
Australians have recognised that our relationships have as much worth and commitment as everyone else’s relationships. Our desire to make a public and lasting commitment to the person we love is as important and meaningful as everyone else’s.
For those of us fighting for equality, this has been a deeply personal debate. The stubborn legislative discrimination excluding us from the institution of marriage was a clear statement about how our relationships were regarded.
This has been a very hard time for our community, the LGBTIQ community across Australia.
The worth of our relationships has been questioned. Our love and commitment to our children has been questioned. Our identity has been denigrated.
And when a part of our community is diminished in this way, whether it on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion, sexuality or other attribute, we are all diminished.
Today those attitudes have been resoundingly rejected.
Today the Australian people have declared we belong, our love is equal, and those who argued for division and intolerance have been rejected.
So this campaign wasn’t just important for LGBTIQ Australians. It’s important for all Australians.
Thank you to the millions of Australians who stood up for fairness. Thank you for standing up for equality. Thank you for standing up for gay and lesbian Australians, the LGBTIQ community everywhere. Thank you for standing up for my family and for all our families. Thank you for standing up for the sort of Australia we believe in, one that is decent, one that is fair, one that is accepting and one that turns its back on exclusion and division.
We have now seen an outpouring of love and support from our fellow Australians. I hope we can all take from this a message of solidarity, of support, of decency from our fellow Australians.
All of us have been lifted by the support from unions, from business leaders, from farmers, miners and professionals; from the ordinary working men and women of Australia; from the national sporting clubs and their leading stars to the local clubs in towns and cities across Australia.
We have been lifted by support from the local cafes with “Vote Yes” signs in the windows, from the airlines and airports decorated with rainbows.
I have seen it also in the thoughtful messages my partner Sophie and I received, in the kindness of strangers stopping me in the street to ask after our family and those who tell me in the lift or the airport terminal that they were voting Yes.
And as much as these interactions lift my spirits, I can also I see how much it means to our fellow Australians that they are able to show their support in millions of individual ways, to bring an end to discrimination imposed upon us by the changes to the Marriage Act in 2004.
So the ‘Yes’ vote is not just a statement for the LGBTIQ community: it’s a statement about the kind of nation we are.
A nation where the values of fairness and equality grow ever stronger.
A nation where acceptance and respect mean that all members of our community are made to feel safe and welcome.
Australians have voted for equality. They have done their part.
Now it is time for us to do ours.
The bill we will now debate is the twenty-third marriage equality bill to be introduced into the Australian Parliament. And it is the first I have co-sponsored.
I have chosen to put my name in support of this bill because I believe it is the right bill to pass this Parliament.
The Australian people voted to remove discrimination – not to extend it.
It’s time for us to get on with it.
It’s time to remove discrimination from our Marriage Act.
It’s time to legislate for marriage equality.
This piece was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald Online on Wednesday, 15 November 2017.