Hunter couple 'apprehensive but hopeful' about same sex marriage survey result

Together: Dan Alipate and Andrew McGrath, who were against the matter going to a public vote, said legalising same sex marriage would help wider society to see all relationships as equally serious and valuable. Picture: Marina Neil
Together: Dan Alipate and Andrew McGrath, who were against the matter going to a public vote, said legalising same sex marriage would help wider society to see all relationships as equally serious and valuable. Picture: Marina Neil

Andrew McGrath and Dan Alipate have often mused about their dream wedding, pondering possible outdoor venues, the guest list and the songs such as INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart they’ll include.

“We’ve spoken about it at length for a long period of time, but it was always something that could never happen or come to fruition,” Mr McGrath said. “Now it’s becoming a bit more real and we’re starting to say ‘This could actually happen, we may not have to go to New Zealand to make it legal’ – and that’s all that people want, an equal playing field.”

The Kilaben Bay couple, who have been together for four years, will be one of thousands across the country waiting for the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ David Kalisch to announce the results of the $122 million same sex marriage survey at 10am on November 15. 

Mr McGrath said he was “apprehensive but hopeful” and starting to feel increasingly nervous as the time of the announcement drew closer. “What if we’ve gone through all of this, only for it to be knocked on the head by the Australian public?” he asked. “The gays aren’t going anywhere and are not going to rest – they picked on the wrong crew there – and it’s just going to go on and on.

“Even if it is yes, what happens then? It’s not binding, so can they legalise it in Parliament straight away or does it have to be debated? There’s so much uncertainty about the next step.”

Mr McGrath, a former underground coal miner who was previously married to a woman and had two children, said the plebiscite was a “joke”, a waste of money and encouraged “hateful” speech. “The government should have just said ‘This is what is going to happen’,” he said. “It’s not fair to give people an opportunity to bag anyone else out. It’s cruel what they’ve done to people just to please a fraction of the community. People’s lives have been put under the spotlight and their relationships critiqued – it’s been a testing time. We’ve got young people coming out into this circus and it’s not good for them – they’d be thinking ‘Am I that different that people don’t want to accept me?’

“If it’s no, it might push people over the edge and would be heartbreaking for everyone involved and that’s what’s got me worried.”

Mr McGrath said the couple weren’t planning any special celebrations if there was a yes result, besides a quiet beer. “Then we can all move on,” he said. “We weren’t hanging on this to get married and won’t be rushing into anything, but the value of it is being able to do so in our own time, when we’re ready, in our front yard if we want to. It takes all the question marks around it away.” ACON Hunter will host a results morning tea from 9.50am near the Rainbow Path in Islington Park, Islington.