74 per cent of Canberrans vote Yes in SSM survey

Updated November 15, 2017 15:21:19

The ACT has recorded the highest Yes vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey compared to any other state or territory.

About 74 per cent of Canberrans voted in favour of same-sex marriage, compared to a national average of 61.6 per cent.

The figure was the same across the electorates of Canberra and Fenner.

Canberrans were also more likely to have their say, recording the highest participation rate.

Hundreds of Canberrans gathered in Haig Park in the city for the Big Gay Out community picnic and there were tears, hugs and applause as the results were announced.

Many people kissed their partners as the song Love is in the Air burst from the speakers and champagne corks were popped.

Isabel Moore said today marked not only a step forward for Australia but for her own family’s acceptance of her sexuality.

“My grandmother is opposed to same-sex marriage, but today I found her ironing my flag to wear to this celebration,” Ms Moore said.

“She couldn’t in good conscious vote Yes [because of her personal views] but I think in the end she wants to see me happy.”

‘I’ll remember this moment forever’

Mother-of-two Sarah Davies said the result brought a slight relief to several of her LGBTI friends who became depressed over the past few months as Australia debated their future.

“I’ve been very worried about them, but I am so happy with today’s result,” she said.

“For the rest of my life I’ll remember sitting here with my kids and knowing they’re likely to grow up marrying whoever they want.”

For Naomi, who first proposed to her partner Nina just three days into their relationship more than a decade ago — “when you know, you know,” she said — the results represented a huge milestone.

“We’ve got two kids, aged six and eight, who are thankfully completely oblivious to this debate,” she said.

“It’s really warming to know we live in a place that had the highest [yes vote] in the country.”

‘There’s been a few tears’

Minutes after the announcement, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr fought back tears as he spoke about hearing the results. “There’s been a few tears,” he said.

“There are moments in our lives where something really dramatic and significant happens in public life that collides with your personal experience.”

Mr Barr became Australia’s first openly gay state or territory leader in 2014, and has keenly advocated for the legalisation of same-sex marriage since he entered politics in 2006.

He told those who voted yes they had “made a massive difference to the lives of thousands of people”.

“I never had any doubts, we’ve always been an engaged and progressive community,” he said.

When asked if he and his partner Anthony Toms would tie the knot, Mr Barr joked that it was “a question of whether he’ll say yes”.

“At some point later we’ll have that conversation. We had our civil partnership on our 10th anniversary … [and] we’ve just celebrated our 18th anniversary,” he said.

“So maybe we’ll look for something on our 20th.”

Rainbow roundabout for Canberra

Mr Barr also said public art would be commissioned to commemorate the occasion.

“I think Canberra, as the home of the roundabout, definitely needs a rainbow roundabout in the heart of the city,” he said.

Mr Barr said he and his partner Anthony would be celebrating the results later on Lonsdale Street in Braddon, which was closed to the public for a party hosted by the Yes camp.

In a statement, the Canberra Liberals congratulated all Australians who voted and expressed support for a robust and vigorous democracy that encourages wide participation in public debate.

But Opposition Leader Alistair Coe reiterated his concerns over the ACT Government’s financial involvement in the Yes campaign.

“While many Canberrans supported the Yes vote, many of these same supporters did not support the ACT Government’s use of taxpayers’ money to fund one side of the campaign,” Mr Coe said.

Mr Coe was major party leader to oppose the vote.

The Catholic Archbiship of Canberra and Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, was disappointed with the outcome.

He said if same-sex marriage went on to be legalised, the religious beliefs of those opposed to the change must be protected.

“Many of them may find this very difficult to take and I think their right their freedom of speech – their conscience – needs to be respected too,” he said.

In September 2013 the territory became Australia’s first jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage.

But the legislation was overturned three months later after the High Court ruled the laws invalid, voiding the 31 marriages that had taken place in that time.

Topics: gays-and-lesbians, federal-government, federal—state-issues, states-and-territories, canberra-2600, act

First posted November 15, 2017 12:39:49