Editorial: Historic marriage equality vote represents social progress

Empty bottles of champagne sit with rainbow Yes flags in them after the marriage vote result announcement during a picnic held by the Equality Campaign at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Australians have given same-sex marriage their approval with a 61.6 per cent 'Yes' vote in a voluntary survey. (AAP Image/David Moir) NO ARCHIVING

Empty bottles of champagne sit with rainbow Yes flags in them after the marriage vote result announcement during a picnic held by the Equality Campaign at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Australians have given same-sex marriage their approval with a 61.6 per cent 'Yes' vote in a voluntary survey. (AAP Image/David Moir) NO ARCHIVING

The time for talking is over.

The Australian people have spoken and spoken loud and clear.

The majority of people in this country want marriage equality and not even the strongest of ‘No’ campaigners could find a way to reason against that logic – although there will be die-hards in the opposing camp who will argue a “no” vote of 38.4 per cent means almost four in 10 Australians are still opposed to what will be a landmark legal reform.

But a better way to look at the overall result is to realise that respondents in 133 of 150 Australian electorates voted in favour of the simple, one-sentence proposition: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

The vote can be interpreted any number of ways, but most of all it is a clear signal that Australia is a nation that favours inclusion, fairness and tolerance over conservative, old-school norms that still place heterosexuality above all other forms of physical expression.

It is a vote that says discrimination is wrong, and that the decades-long push for acceptance that led to the gay pride movement has won the overall endorsement of a society that once jailed people for the very behaviour now destined to be further legitimised through marriage.

Voters in the south-west federal seats of Wannon and Corangamite echoed the national sentiment.

In Corangamite, the yes vote (71.6 per cent) was higher than the national average of 61 per cent while those in Wannon mirrored the overall result (61 per cent).

Celebrations were held across the south-west after the result was announced on Wednesday morning.

Koroit couple Jackie Wallis and Shayne Cox popped the champagne corks.

“A lot of people say a piece of paper doesn’t really mean anything, but to us it legitimises everything,” Ms Wallis said.

 “It was a hard-fought, horrible campaign. But, we have won.”

The decision has been made. It's now up to our government to make it a reality and soon.

Couples across the region are already planning their ceremonies and experts are tipping an economic injection.

But still our federal MPs need to vote on legislation.

The people have spoken and all MPs must recognise this. They need to vote in line with the public will, it is the right thing to do.