Same-sex couples across the Illawarra will have the right to get hitched after legislation to change the definition of marriage passed the federal Parliament’s lower house on Thursday.
Following a lengthy debate – which spanned many days and saw a number of amendments voted down – the House of Representatives voted in favour of same-sex marriage about 6pm.
The historic moment was a long-time coming for many, with same-sex marriage campaigners expressing jubilation at the outcome.
On Thursday, Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones – a long-time marriage equality advocate – spoke in the chamber ahead of the result.
“People have changed their mind, parliamentarians have changed their mind and that is a good thing. It says a lot about what we have become as a country,” he said, speaking in the context of his failed 2012 attempt to legalise same-sex marriage.
On that occasion, only 42 MPs voted in favour.
Earlier this week, Mr Jones and the Illawarra’s other federal pollies – Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird – spoke during the same-sex marriage debate.
Each addressed the proposed legislation during a marathon sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night.
All three were in favour of changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Ms Sudmalis’ speech was the shortest of the three, lasting about six minutes.
Ms Bird and Mr Jones spoke for about 12 and 15 minutes, respectively.
Both Ms Sudmalis and Ms Bird used their few minutes in front of the microphone to give voice to the words of people who were involved in the campaigns within their respective electorates.
The MPs’ comments came almost three weeks after the release of the same-sex marriage postal survey results on November 15.
The survey delivered a clear message from voters in the Illawarra – it was time for change.
In the survey, 65.7 per cent of respondents in Cunningham voted ‘yes’, in Whitlam that figure was 62.3 per cent, while Gilmore’s 62 per cent support was similar to the national result (61.6 per cent).