Yes for same-sex marriage: reactions from Yass Valley

YES SECURED: Al Phemister, Sarah Phemister and Sophie Peer gather to watch the announcement of the result of the same-sex marriage postal survey at 10am on November 15. Photo: Toby Vue
YES SECURED: Al Phemister, Sarah Phemister and Sophie Peer gather to watch the announcement of the result of the same-sex marriage postal survey at 10am on November 15. Photo: Toby Vue

Eden-Monaro is in support of same-sex marriage, with 65 per cent marking ‘yes’ in the national survey.

This compares with 57.8 per cent across NSW, and 61.1 per cent nationally. Eighty per cent of the electorate’s residents participated in the survey.

David Small and his partner Greg Miller, owners of The Globe Inn, said they were very happy with the result.

“It’s encouraging to see that our electorate has shown support. Sixty-five per cent is strong and it’s a sign of the times. It shows that rural areas are not left behind and that we’re moving forward,” Mr Small said.

It also reflected the town’s close proximity to Canberra, he said. The territory returned the highest percentage of state-level endorsement at 74 per cent.

Sophie Peer, who held a yes-campaign event at Trader and Co in October, said the outcome validated efforts in campaigning for same-sex marriage. The ‘yes’ street parties on Wednesday were “a message to those who want same-sex marriage that they had our support in numbers,” she said.

“The government has always had a clear way  – they just didn't take responsibility,” Ms Peer said.

Similarly, artist and resident Sarah Phemister said she felt relieved about the outcome.

“It was like running a marathon. I feel like the postal survey was set up to fail, but it didn't. I'm very hopeful for the future,” Ms Phemister said.

“Our politicians have the responsibility to listen to the majority of Australians,” she said.

David Barnett of Yass said he chose yes because of a principle clearly stated by John Howard when he became prime minister, that “the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” Mr Barnett said.

“Malcolm Turnbull is delighted, and determined to get a new bill through before Christmas,” Mr Barnett said.

Praise for Eden-Monaro

The electorate was among 133 (out of 150) that recorded a majority yes response.

In the 18–24-year-old category, 72 per cent (the second lowest) returned their surveys while 87 per cent (the highest) of those who are 65 years or older responded.

Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly said he was proud of the electorate.

“It’s an overwhelming result at 65 per cent, very much amongst the highest ‘Yes’ results in the entire nation. It just says so much for the intelligence and goodwill and community spirit that exist here,” Mr Kelly said.

“I’m very grateful to the no voters who conducted themselves in such a civil manner in this debate.”

He said the outcome gave him “ammunition to carry this forward into the parliament.”

“There can be no further delay. Eden-Monaro expects me and my fellow Parliamentarians to deliver marriage equality as quickly as possible.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Australian people have spoken clearly and want politicians to act.

“They voted yes for fairness, commitment, love. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming,” Mr Turnbull said.

He said it was now up to politicians to make sure the will of the people is respected by Parliament and the legislation is passed by Christmas.

On November 16, Liberal senator Dean Smith introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, with provisions for religious exemptions a focus of the bill.

Father Mick Burke at St Augustine’s Parish said the result indicated what Australia wanted.

“It doesn’t affect us so much because it’s done by civil, not church, authorities,” Father Burke said. “We’ll always continue to speak of marriage differently from the secular world.”

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