After a long few months, the postal survey results day is here.
Our news post is HERE.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics announced on Wednesday that 7.8 million Australians (61.6% of the Australian voting population) voted to support the legalising of same-sex marriage in Australia, versus 38.4% or 4.8 million who voted “no”.
All Australian states and territories recorded a majority “yes” vote, with the highest being the ACT at 74%, and the lowest being New South Wales at 57.8%.
A total of 133 out of 150 electorates had a majority “yes” vote.
Participation in the survey was 79.5% or 12.7 million people.
There was a nerve-wracking silence, then resounding cheers, as a crowd of thousands gathered in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park heard the message they had wished upon for months: “yes” had won.
The crowd was packed with all sorts: rainbow flags, wigs, signs, glitter. The most flamboyant attendees were bailed up by journalists, while others spread out picnic blankets with their kids.
As the minutes counted down, the masses drew closer to the stage, where the campaign leaders, staff and activists, were lined up waiting. After a few rousing speeches, and a video recapping the campaign, everyone turned to watch a live feed of Australian statistician David Kalisch deliver the long-awaited result.
As Kalisch ran through an explanation of the survey, there was laughter at points — a wry groan when he said “quality information”, and another when he launched into the participation statistics instead of blurting out the result.
“And the result is?” someone near the stage yelled, laughing.
But then it came — silence followed by a resounding cheer. A wave of elation spread through the crowd as people turned to their loved ones and kissed, danced, screamed, and said: “Are you gonna marry me now, babe?!”
Seconds later, Love Is In The Air started playing on the speakers — sung by none other than John Paul Young himself, quickly joined by Magda Szubanski. The dancing continued for minutes, the huge crowd swaying along with the song.
The ramifications of the vote — the numbers, the bills, the votes in parliament — are all yet to come. But for now, Australians are celebrating.
– Lane Sainty
We are live at the “yes” event in Sydney
Prominent “no” campaigner Liberal senator Eric Abetz is doing the rounds in the media this morning singing the praises of the Paterson legislation. On ABC News Breakfast he called it a “wonderful embrace of classical liberal values” and a “masterful piece of legislative drafting” on Sky News.
This is in contrast to a wide range of legal experts and politicians across the parliament who have claimed that the legislation would introduce new discrimination against same-sex couples.
Abetz argues that religious freedoms should extend far beyond those who are involved in the church to those who merely hold religious beliefs in opposition to same-sex marriage.
When he was asked whether it would be “a bit odd” to allow this sort of discrimination in Australia, Abetz said that “in a free society we allow people to be odd, if that's what they wish to be.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten told Fox FM this morning that he was hopeful for a “yes” vote in the postal survey today, but he would continue campaigning even if there was a “no” vote.
Labor has promised to legislate within 100 days of forming government should same-sex marriage not be legalised as a result of today's announcement.
Shorten predicted that marriage equality legislation could pass parliament as soon as November 30 or the first week of December – the final sitting week of 2017.
“I’m anxious”: Penny Wong and Matthew Canavan have been on ABC Radio
Our reporter Lane Sainty is on the scene at the “yes” event with our video producer Nick Wray.
A lot of the commentary today will refer to the clash shaping up between two same-sex marriage bills in the event of a “yes” vote, from Liberal senators Dean Smith and James Paterson respectively.
Smith's bill would continue the current exemption for religious ministers to refuse to solemnise any marriage they want, provide a grandfather clause allowing current civil celebrants to move into a new category that would also have the right to refuse, and allow religious organisations the right to refuse to serve same-sex weddings.
Paterson's bill would allow a wide range of service providers, religious or secular, to turn away gay couples asking for wedding services. It would also provide immunity under anti-discrimination law for people who hold, express, and act on various traditional beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender.
Government MPs have clashed over the two proposals. Meanwhile, senators from across the political spectrum have signed a motion to introduce the Smith bill to the Senate this afternoon if a “yes” vote is successful – giving it an advantage over its legislative rival.
– Lane Sainty
There were around 40 people (who weren't members of the media) gathered in Sydney after the “yes” campaign won in Australia's same-sex marriage survey on Wednesday morning.
Leading “no” campaigner Lyle Shelton took to the podium to a lengthy applause.
“The democracy hasn't gone our way today,” Shelton said.
“While we are naturally disappointed in today’s result, we accept and respect the decision of the Australian people.”
Appearing on Sky News shortly after the announcement, Shelton said three months of the postal survey campaign wasn't long enough to overturn 10 years of campaigning from the “yes” side (keeping in mind the ACL has been strongly campaigning against the change for over 10 years)
-Gina Rushton and Josh Taylor
Opposition leader Bill Shorten declared it was a “fabulous day” to be an Australian because Australia is ready for marriage equality. He gave thanks to the LGBTIQ community.
“You shouldn't have had to put up with this survey but you embraced it,” he said. “I feel for young people who have had their relationships questioned in a way in which I wouldn't have thought we would have seen ever again. Unconditional love always has the last word.”
Labor leader in the Senate Penny Wong, who is a strong “yes” supporter, and resources minister Matthew Canavan, who is a strong “no” supporter, have been on Radio National Breakfast this morning.
Wong told the program, “I’m anxious, but we all are – those of us who have been fighting for this for a long time and understand what this means for the country.”
She rejected the assertion from various “no” supporting politicians and advocates that extensive exemptions to anti-discrimination law are needed if Australia legalises same-sex marriage.
“What has been argued for is a greater licence to discriminate,” she said. “I don't think Australians voted for that. I don't think this survey was a vote on expanding the capacity to discriminate in our society. It was in fact the opposite. It was a vote that was all about whether we should have equal rights for same-sex couples in this country.”
Canavan argued that there should be extensive exemptions in any same-sex marriage bill that passes the parliament in the event of a “yes” vote.
He said regardless of the margin of the vote, there will be “millions of Australians who vote 'no'” and they deserve to have their rights protected in the event of a “yes” vote. He also said Australia is not governed by “the tyranny of the majority” — a line that has taken some LGBTI Australians by surprise, given the concept of the postal survey.
– Lane Sainty
“Now it is up to us, here in the parliament of Australia, to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do, and get this done,” he said. “This year. Before Christmas.”
Finance minister Mathias Cormann said it would be up to politicians to now work together to find common ground on a bill that will pass the parliament.