Same-sex marriage: Federal MPs vow to carry the Illawarra's Yes vote to Canberra

A resounding yes: Labor MPs and Yes campaigners gathered at Sharon Bird's office in Wollongong to watch the survey results be delivered. Picture: Adam McLean.
A resounding yes: Labor MPs and Yes campaigners gathered at Sharon Bird's office in Wollongong to watch the survey results be delivered. Picture: Adam McLean.

Illawarra MP Stephen Jones is confident same-sex marriage will be legal by Christmas, saying the resounding 61.6 per cent national Yes vote will give more parliamentarians “courage” to pass the law.

“It’ll get up,” the Whitlam MP said.

“All the people who have been strongly against this have had high Yes votes in their electorates,” he said.

“Tony Abbott had one of the highest Yes votes in NSW – 75 per cent.”

“This means people like Ann Sudmalis will vote Yes – and I suspect she wanted to anyway – but it gives them to courage to do so.”

“Some won’t be swayed, but with Labor’s votes, I think it will get up.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already committed to quickly act to change the law, pledging to “get on with it and get this done, this year, before Christmas”.

Mr Jones has been strongly supportive of legalising same-sex marriage since he was elected in 2010, and first introduced a marriage equality bill to parliament in 2012.

“That was seen as controversial at the time but today’s results clearly show people support this change,” he said.

This is an absolutely fantastic result – our local community, unsurprisingly to us, care about fairness and love and equality.

Sharon Bird

Joining with Mr Jones and other campaigners to watch the result in her Wollongong office, Sharon Bird welcomed the strong result in her Cunningham electorate, where 66 per cent of respondents ticked yes.

“This is an absolutely fantastic result – our local community, unsurprisingly to us, care about fairness and love and equality,” she said.

“We’ll be down there in Canberra as soon as the house goes back making sure that all those naysayers, interrupters and delayers get shut down and this gets done.

“And we’re hoping to attend some weddings next year.”

Liberal Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis has been previously hesitant to share her views about same-sex marriage.

However, on Wednesday she released a short statement welcoming the outcome of the survey.

“My position has always been that I would vote in accordance with the postal survey result in the seat of Gilmore,” she said. “I welcome the Prime Ministers’ commitment to have this legislated by Christmas.”

“l will support a yes vote in the House of Representatives.”

Result bittersweet as four in 10 tick no

For 24-year-old Caitlin Roodenrys, news that Australia had delivered a resounding Yes in the marriage survey prompted just a small, wry smile.

While the Wollongong resident was happy to hear results in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, she said there was still a sting in the tail.

“I’m happy most people said yes, but it’s still a slap in the face to know that if you walk past 10 people, four of them think I don’t deserve to have the same basic human rights as other people in this country,” she said.

“That’s pretty upsetting.”

Ms Roodenrys also said she remained concerned about the lasting effects the survey would have on the gay community.

“But I guess what this has shown me is that I am glad to be born when I was, because I didn’t have to live through what older gay people lived through – and I’m glad I’m not a high school student now too,” she said.

“I had a hard enough time in high school when this was not a national discussion – so I think the government should rectify this situation a bit by putting more money into mental health services for young people – this will be impacting people for months and years to come.”

For other local campaigners, the Yes result was a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and start planning celebrations to mark the historic day.

“I feel absolutely fantastic, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and I can’t believe it,” Richard Martin, who spoke of his trepidation about the result on Tuesday night, said.

“I can’t believe the majority of Australians have now given me equal rights.”

“I’m very relieved and very thankful,” equality campaign organiser Simon Zulian said.

“This has been so emotional and hard, so I hope people feel vindicated.”