Region shares equality pride

CELEBRATION: Marriage equality supporter Naomi Brick celebrates yesterday’s postal survey result. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

MOUNT Gambier marriage equality supporters have called on Federal Parliament to move quickly to legislate change after yesterday’s national postal survey results showed the majority of Australians supported same sex marriage.

Emotional proponents of change erupted with joy yesterday when the results of the $100m Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey were announced.

Tears flowed after weeks of anticipation at a small public gathering yesterday in Mount Gambier.

Nearly 80pc of Australians participated in the survey with around 62pc voting yes to allowing same-sex couples to marry.

But this majority slumped to just 52pc in the Barker electorate, which is understood to be among Australia’s most conservative seats.

The results show 81,000 people – representing 77pc of the population – voted in Barker with 42,500 people supporting marriage equality.

High-profile marriage equality campaigner Di Ind – who said the lead-up to the poll result had been “an emotional roller-coaster” – was anxious about protest votes against change.

“We have seen a protest vote around the world and I was crossing every finger the polls in Australia were not wrong,” Ms Ind told The Border Watch.

She said it would be a “dream come true” to marry her long-term partner.

“Being able to be officially recognised in my country of birth that my relationship is equal to everybody is very important – it is a very proud day for me today,” Ms Ind said yesterday.

“I am very emotional and it is something I have been fighting for, for a very long time.

“I am very relieved that so many people participated. I was hoping for over 60pc to vote yes, so I am very happy.”

Describing the vote as “historic” for the community, she welcomed indications from the Federal Government it would move quickly to introduce change.

“Today is a massive day, I think it shows Australia is listening to the people and we need to continue to do that on lots of other measures as well,” Ms Ind said.

While she was “totally against the survey”, she said there was now an outcome to guide parliament.

“We have done it and I thank everyone for participating,” Ms Ind said.

“I also respect there is 38pc of Australians that voted no and I respect their decision – some of the arguments I understand and other aspects I do not.”

She said the survey results would culminate in all members of parliament having a conscience vote.

“Under the current turmoil and instability we are seeing with so many other issues, it would be very unwise for our politicians not to listen to the people,” Ms Ind said.

Ms Ind – who has been the public face of the yes campaign in Mount Gambier – said she had been inundated with text messages, phone calls and visits by supporters.

But she revealed negative comments from some sections of the community had taken an emotional toll.

Fellow campaigner and Mount Gambier resident Trevor Williams was also thrilled with yesterday’s vote.

“I am very excited and relieved with the postal survey vote, at last we know what the will of the people is,” said Mr Williams, whose son Jonathan is in a same-sex relationship.

While disappointed the result was lower in Barker, he said nationally the result was overwhelming.

“Barker is a very rural and conservative seat,” Mr Williams said.

While arguing there were some “entrenched” views in Barker against same sex marriage, he said the result was still a majority.

Marriage equality supporter Naomi Brick yesterday celebrated the announcement with fellow same-sex marriage advocates in Mount Gambier.

“I was feeling really nervous about the result,” Ms Brick said.

She said she was a vocal supporter of same sex marriage because she had a family member who was gay.

“This whole process has been so awful and if I feel this anxious even though I am not gay, imagine how people who are must be feeling,” Ms Brick said.

“I feel terrible about the words that have been said and the language that has been used – this has not been very conducive to our society as a whole.”

But she said she had not heard a negative comments in Mount Gambier.

“I am very happy with the result, but would been happier if the result was 90pc,” Ms Brick said.

She questioned whether some people voted against same-sex marriage because they did not like change.

Liberal candidate for the seat of Mount Gambier Craig Marsh also welcomed the outcome.

Mr Marsh – who was at yesterday’s gathering – said he wanted to see people happy in the community.

“Same sex couples can now get married and have the same rights as us,” Mr Marsh said.

Releasing the results, Australian statistician David Kalisch said the participation rate was high for a voluntary survey.

“This high response rate far exceeds expectations and compares extremely favourably with other voluntary exercises conducted around the world thanks to the strong interest and engagement of eligible Australians in this topic,” Mr Kalisch said.

PURE JOY: A group of marriage equality supporters erupt as the postal ballot results are announced during a community gathering at Sorrentos Cafe.