Port Stephens advocate for marriage equality Chris Baguley said he was relieved – even exhausted – after the ‘yes’ vote came down.
“It’s been such a big, long journey and now that my part is done, I feel exhausted,” he said.
Mr Baguley attended the ACON rally at Islington Park on Tuesday morning. He said there were cheers as those gathered listened to the result as Australian Statistician David Kalisch read out the results. Followed quickly by people using their phones to look at how different areas voted.
“It was great to read the strong turnout in our [Paterson] electorate,” Mr Baguley said.
“It was really heartening to see that 65 per cent.”
Mr Baguley flew the flag for mariage equality throughout the campaign. He lives in Raymond Terrace with his fiance Scott Dunn with their children. Their house was proudly painted in rainbow colours and they hosted an “equality sausage” barbecue, which their neighbours happily attended.
With the vote locked down Mr Baguley had a strong message for the federal government: “Just get on with it and do it”.
The ‘yes’ vote alone doesn’t bring about the desired changes to the act, the plebiscite being a non-binding vote.
“There’s going to be a lot of posturing and kicking the can down the road,” Mr Baguley said.
“I’m a realist and there’s is so much instability in parliament at the moment and its going to take time to get any legislation through.”
The delay is expected to come down to various bills being brought to the floor. The draft bill by Senator James Paterson aims to give florists, bakers and photographers the right to refuse service to gay couples.
In other words, “a backward step”.
“It would be a watering down of our discrimination laws,” Mr Baguley said.
“It would be supporting one equality at the expense of another, which is not in the spirit of this vote.”
Aaron Churchill of Raymond Terrace also welcomed Wednesday’s announcement. But like like his friends, expressed concern about Senator Paterson’s draft bill.
“I want it to be equal, not equal when it suits the person taking my money,” he said.
“For me it’s about making change for the future.”
“Today’s decision will hopefully send a message to the people where I grew up in Forbes, so that children no longer have to go through what I did.
“Like Chris, I was bullied but today, Forbes [Calare] voted 60 per cent in favour and I’m really proud of the way Forbes voted.”
Mr Baguley said marriage equality was about freedom.
“Scott and I are engaged, what this is about is choice,” he said.
“But I might face some pressure from people to actually get married now it’s gone through. Now we’ve got the ‘yes’ vote I feel like I can go back to being a regular citizen.”
Voters in the seat of Paterson, which takes in Port Stephens, have said “we do” to same sex marriage with 65.5 per cent of the area’s 92,974 respondents voting yes in the same sex marriage plebiscite.
Overall, the nation voted for the historic change with 61.6 per cent in favour to 38.4 per cent against. Almost 80 percent of eligible voters participated in the postal survey. The figures were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning.
The result comes after months of, at times heated, debate and should now see the Turnbull make moves to pave the way for same sex couples to marry legally before Christmas.
Australia is set to join 25 other countries that have granted marriage equality to gay couples, including the US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The non-binding, voluntary poll is only a guide for the politicians. Here’s what happens next.