IN ISLINGTON Park, the unofficial home of Newcastle’s gay and lesbian community, there was immediate reaction as the results of the controversial same-sex marriage survey were broadcast over AM radio.
Tears of joy and scenes of jubilation broke out as the 64-day campaign that began when the postal survey was ruled legal by the High Court came to an end, with the Australian Statistician David Kalisch – his voice echoing from a stereo on a bench beside the rainbow walk – declaring “every state and territory recorded a majority ‘Yes’ result”.
For some, it was only a matter of time. But for others, it was a day “unimaginable” even only a few years ago, yet alone decades ago.
“I’m so proud of Australia,” said Merewether’s Gary Burrett, who was there on Wednesday morning to support his gay son.
“The overall result indicates that Australians have thought long and hard about this.
“They’ve decided to make their mark.”
An emotional Donna Burrett said the result “validated” the relationships of same-sex couples.
“I’m happy for all the families and the children,” she said. “We’ve come a very long way. For same-sex couples, for the parents of children in same-sex relationships, this means the world.”
Their son, Ryan, said the campaign had been difficult for him, particularly ‘No’ campaign television advertisements, which he said made false claims.
“At the end of the day, the ‘Yes’ team was never stopping anyone from doing what they wanted to do,” he said. “It was always the case, from the other side, that we weren’t allowed to have the same access and the same rights as every other Australian.”
Gary Burrett said he was hopeful same-sex marriage would be legalised by Christmas.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be worded, but the government has got to stand behind the vote, that’s all I’m saying,” he said.
“It’s what the people want,” Donna Burrett added.
Mayfield’s Scott McKenzie, who grew up in a small town in country Queensland, said “the sky is the limit” in the minutes after the historic vote was handed down.
He said a day like Wednesday would be “unimaginable” as a teenager.
“Today is a fairness brought back to the community,” he said. “For the future, the sky is the limit.”
Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said she was thrilled her electorate recorded a substantial 74.8 per cent ‘Yes’ vote.
Ms Claydon urged the Parliament to “do what’s right, do what’s fair” and respect the result of the marriage survey.
“Get rid of this discriminatory law and vote for marriage equality,” she said.