Australia has today voted decisively in favor of same-sex marriage with 61.6 per cent of people voting ‘yes’ and 38.4 per cent of people voting ‘no’.
More than 12.7 million Australians voted in a huge 79.5% turnout, making it the largest participatory voting survey for same-sex marriage in the world.
After today’s vote, gay marriage is set to be legislated by the end of this year.
The introduction of same-sex marriage will be a major legacy of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has supported gay marriage for a long time.
“My views are very, very well-known and have been for a long time,” he said.
“Now, it’s under my prime ministership that all Australians have been given a say on this issue.”
“The people of Australia have spoken and I intend to make their wish the law of the land by Christmas. This is an overwhelming call for marriage equality.”
“We have had an 80 per cent turnout. Amazing. Extraordinary. Vastly beyond everyone’s expectations.”
The No campaigners fought a tough fight being up against the media, political elites, celebrities and multi-million dollar corporations who poured millions into the Yes campaign.
The No camp says it will accept today’s decision on same-sex marriage but concerns are already being raised about the consequences.
The Coalition for Marriage has vowed to “continue defending parents’ rights, and fighting for freedom of speech and freedom of belief” in the wake of today’s vote.
“I think it’s important to realise and to recognise that the Yes campaign said all along there were no consequences in redefining marriage — this won’t affect anyone else’s freedoms — so I expect the legislative process to reflect that,” Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton told reporters at a No event in Sydney today.
Mr Shelton said the organisation was disappointed in today’s result but accepted and respected the decision of the Australian people.
He also pointed out the legalisation of same-sex marriage was a “two-step process”.
“People give a Yes or a No, which is what they’ve done today and it has always been said by the government, it’s up to the parliament then to legislate an appropriate bill,” he said.
Mr Shelton said he wanted to see protections for people’s freedoms.
“I don’t think anyone who voted in this postal survey wants to see their fellow Australians put up on hate speech charges,” he said.
“So I think we need to protect freedom of speech, we need to protect freedom of conscience and also freedom of religion and of course that goes way behind a wedding ceremony.”
Mr Shelton described freedom of religion as an international human right to express their beliefs in public.
When asked about the new same-sex marriage bill, spruiked on Monday by Liberal Senator James Paterson, Mr Shelton described it as “very good”.
The bill seeks to create the category of a person who holds “relevant marriage beliefs” which would allow business owners to discriminate.
“I think anything less than that will see basic freedoms eroded,” he said.
Mr Turnbull has already indicated Senator Smith’s bill is his prefered option, while Labor and a number of the crossbench were also opposed to Senator Paterson’s proposal.
It would have overridden state and territory anti-discrimination and freedom-of-speech laws to extend protections beyond religions to anyone who held a conscientious belief against gay marriage.
But Treasurer Scott Morrison, Resources Minister Matt Canavan and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann have all voiced concerns about the level of protections in Senator Smith’s bill, which is likely to be amended as the debate continues into the next sitting period in late November.
Commenting on the vote result, Christian commentator Bill Muehlenberg wrote the following…
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In sum, and speaking as a Christian, this is indeed a rather sad day. But it is not the end of all things. It is simply the beginning. The battles will continue, but we all know who ultimately wins the war. So with the view of eternity in mind, we keep on fighting. We must never give up.
We must keep on keeping on, so that we can say with the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
And again: “Fight the good fight of faith.” 1 Timothy 6:12