The LGBT community in Australia won’t sleep tonight.
Right from the kookaburra’s dawn chorus there’s been a certain magic in the air. This is a day that will take us one step closer to being treated equally in the land of green and gold, the land of Priscilla and her desert, and Muriel and her wedding.
Several rallies were held from 9am this morning throughout Australia, allowing thousands of the LGBT community and supporters to join hands in open spaces to further demonstrate our commitment to the “fair go” philosophy that Australia prides itself on.
We’ve been holding our breath since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister in September 2015.
We really thought when he took power last year, we had it in the bag. How wrong we were. It took only a few days to realise that our new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was not the man we thought he was. The man who seemed to take pride when joining us on the Mardi Gras parade with his wife Lucy wouldn’t make the captain’s call that his predecessor Tony Abbot was so fond of doing.
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I even went on the Australian edition of Married at First Sight in hope that we would achieved marriage equality in Australia prior to the season airing. I guess the production company knew better than me, because they arranged for me to be flown to New Zealand for the ceremony. It’s bitterly ironic that the programme is happily watched by thousands of Australians but has to conduct some of its central scenes in a different country because of the retrograde laws of Australia.
Turnbull pandered to the whims of the National party, a coalition partner that the governing Liberal party would not be in power without, whose leader Barnaby Joyce was recently booted out of office for being a dual national. It’s a partly which is mainly associated in Australia with agricultural workers, many of whom hold old-fashioned views.
We won’t forget those who stood in our way, especially our weak prime minister who is now trying to claim credit for the voice of the Australian people. Where he lacked strength, we made up for it.
The No side ran a dirty campaign. They called us bad parents, they said our kids were abused, and they accepted a $1m donation from a homophobic church.
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We on the Yes side ran a positive, inclusive campaign with no dirty tricks. We were confident that love and common sense would prevail.
Although our journey has been a long one, one that has shaken the very foundation of what’s good and bad in our great country, we know this is just the first step.
After we wash off the glitter and put our dancing shoes away, we know that tomorrow we will have to don our marching boots once again to make sure that the will of 61.6 per cent of Australian voters doesn’t get lost by the will of a conservative minority.
We won a non-binding, non-compulsory vote today. It’s a small victory for marriage equality. Now we wait for our parliamentary representatives to take a free vote in the House. Several will not vote the same way as their constituency, most notably ex-prime minister Abbott, whose Warringah electorate voted a resounding 75 per cent in favour of marriage equality. It’s crazy that his devotion to bigotry cost us $122m.
We are grateful for the champions on the Yes side, particularly Magda Zhubsnski and our Senator Penny Wong, who have tirelessly campaigned and been our voices throughout.
Tomorrow when the kookaburras sing, our fight continues – we’re ready, and we’re reinvigorated.