Most Australians Want to Legalize Gay Marriage, but What's Next?

More than 61 percent of the Australian public voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The people spoke, so how will legislation respond?

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Nov 15 2017, 4:44pm

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This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.

You fucking did it Australia. More than 12 million eligible voters mailed in their postal ballots, and 61 percent of voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. All states and territories recorded a majority "Yes" response... and we’re proud of you.

We aren't so proud of the terrible politicians who thrust this upon us. We aren't proud of the feckless cowardice of Australia's prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. And we are not proud of the No campaign’s objectively false claims.

But we can feel good about a country that was saddled with a bad faith game by a scared few, took it on, and conquered it anyway.

So does this mean same-sex marriage is now law?

No. And we’d like to give you a timeline for when it will become law, but the goalposts keep moving.

Turnbull insists there will be a vote before Christmas. But it’s worth remembering that the No campaign is not going stop because they lost the game. They’re going to try to muddy the process the way they muddied the debate, and they will include provisions to make discrimination legal. They’ve already signaled their intention to be as graceless in defeat as possible. The shit fight isn’t over yet.

Even with the yes result, for this to pass Parliament will require a prime minister with a degree of power and courage… and oh shit, Malcolm Turnbull is still the prime minister. It may be best to keep smashing the refresh button until a new candidate turns up. There could even be an internal Coalition fight that will see Turnbull ousted before the end of the year, and it will be based partly but not entirely on today’s result.

But look, one way or another, same-sex marriage is probably about to become legal. It’s the closest it’s ever been.

What happens if they introduce the awful bill that sickly street urchin brought to Parliament House?

First of all, that sickly looking kid was actually an MP by the name of James Paterson. But I can see how you made that error.

Yes, Paterson tried introducing a bill in anticipation of the general public voting in favor of same-sex marriage. The bill would allow private businesses to refuse goods and services for gay weddings on the basis of “conscientious objections.” Turnbull has already said that Paterson’s bill has “virtually no prospect of getting through Parliament,” which means it’ll probably be law before the end of the day.

But look, even if a watered-down version of marriage equality passes, one with ridiculous allowances for bigotry and so-called religious protections, it’s likely all that extra nonsense will be walked back by the Labor Party when they take power in 2019. It's cold comfort, I know, but as with all ultra-conservative positions, this one has a short shelf life.

That wasn’t as inspiring as I’d hoped. Are there any other good things?

One of the best parts of all this is that we never have to listen to Australian Christian Lobbyists like Lyle Shelton ever again. We should never have had to listen to him in the first place, but we can consider this his one last hurrah before eternal insignificance. The man who apparently grew up with a Bible that clearly missed the section about not bearing false witness, who claimed this vote was about radicalizing children and curbing religious freedoms—that guy can now fuck merrily off forever. No self-respecting news organization has any excuse to book him or ask for a quote from him ever again.

This also goes for Tony Abbott. His only useful contribution these past two years has been his rather hilarious undermining campaign against his feckless successor, simultaneously ruining both of their reputations with every inarticulate subtweet. Abbott, who looked at all the problems facing the world and figured the best use of his platform was to prevent his sister from obtaining equal rights, has proven himself even more irrelevant than the time he tried to knight the Queen’s husband.

It’s not admirable to take delight in the failure of one’s opponents; but, conversely, fuck ’em.

So… can I still celebrate?

Oh, hell yes. After everything you’ve been through, you more than deserve to take a breather and kick back. Celebrate like crazy, in any way you want, and with anyone you want to. This is your day.

Never forget that you did something amazing this year. You took a patently unfair situation, one that was deliberately designed to result in a no vote, and you played by the rules even though the rules kept changing. You kept smashing that ball even though the posts kept moving, and you fucking won anyway.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. If that’s not worthy of a drink or ten, I don’t know what is.

Follow Lee Zachariah on Twitter.

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