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‘We Are One': Same Sex Marriage Becomes Legal Down Under

Categories: Oceania, Australia, Good News, Human Rights, Law, LGBTQ+, Politics
Marriage Equality Rally, Adelaide, 16 September 2017 [1]

Marriage Equality Rally, Adelaide, 16 September 2017 – Photo courtesy Flickr user Adelaide Activist (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Same sex marriage has become legal in Australia. Foreign marriages are recognised down under immediately. The first ceremonies will commence on 9 January 2018.

Celebrations took place across the country, with the most prominent being in the House of Representatives with parliamentarians embracing one another in a unique display of non-partisan unity. The visitors’ gallery rejoiced by singing The Seekers’ iconic ‘I Am Australian’ [2]:

We are one, but we are many. And from all the lands on earth we come. We share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian.

The legislation followed a 62% vote in favor [3] of legalizing same-sex marriage in a voluntary and non-binding postal survey conducted by the Federal government. The voter turnout was 80%.

Veteran journalist David Marr watched the final vote at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV program The Drum [4]. Their video captured both his reaction and the scenes in parliament. It was retweeted and liked many thousands of times:

In Marr's words:

When I was a young man people like me were sent to jail for having sex. And I've lived long enough to see the community welcome this unimaginable thing of saying we can now marry. That's a journey!

People shared the joy, especially on Twitter using the hashtag #marriageequality [9]:

In a rare non-partisan moment, the political parties gave their members a free vote on the bill. Many government and opposition parliamentarians shared the love:

Only four members of the House of Representatives voted against the final bill:

A further nine Members of House of Representatives, including former prime minister Tony Abbott, abstained in his absence from the chamber during the division. Many tweeters expressed their contempt:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gushed about the victory but many disputed his attempt to claim it as his own citing the divisive and contentious postal survey [3]:

Joyous diplomatic responses also flooded Twitter feeds. The United Kingdom High Commissioner tweeted congratulations:

Brendan Berne, Australia's ambassador to France, proposed to Thomas Marti, his partner of eleven years:

Another Brit, 94-year-old Harry Leslie Smith, gave us the long view:

Anyway, let's leave the last words to some ‘dinkum’ [genuine] Aussie revelers: