Hunter couples share their reactions to the same-sex marriage survey result

It was a nervous wait for many Hunter same-sex couples but the feeling when the national survey result was announced was a mix of excitement, relief and that progress had been made.

Adamstown Heights couple Laura and Alex Byrnes, both 27, were feeling “pretty damn good” after hearing the announcement in Prince Alfred Park in Sydney on Wednesday.

“It was the most tense thing in the world but the best thing in the world,” Laura said.

Read more: Same-sex marriage results - What happens next?

“We came to Sydney because we just wanted to be around all of our friends and everybody who has had to go through this tough time. We wanted to be there whether it was a ‘Yes’ or whether it was a ‘No’ because it was too important a thing for us.

“It’s a huge push forward. It’s been a rough couple of months for everybody and to get that result back, there was a lot of tears here, a park full of very happy and grateful people to those who had campaigned to make sure we got the ‘Yes’ vote across the line.”

The couple have been together for almost six years and exchanged vows at Seal Rocks two years ago but are keen to make the union legal. 

Read more: The Hunter region has returned some of the state's highest same sex marriage 'Yes' figures

“To be able to get married is a huge part of it but it means so much more in terms of the legal side of it,” Laura said.

“We got married at Treachery two years ago and Al and I spoke about getting married again or getting married legally. I already feel married but for the legal side of it 100 per cent we will be.”

Warners Bay couple Tracy Baker, 38, and Rosie Holmes, 34, have been together for five years and were married in Queenstown, New Zealand in September.

“It’s one step in the right direction for us in regards to being able to have a next of kin now,” Ms Baker said.

Read more: Scenes of jubilation in Islington as Australia votes Yes

“We have a friend who had terminal cancer and her partner was not allowed to have a say if something went wrong, which is unfair considering that’s her partner, so being able to have your partner as next of kin is a big thing.”

So is the show of support, clearly expressed through the amount of people who voted as well as the result.

That was something not lost on Australian women’s football pioneer and Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury.

“It’s pretty exciting and it’s nice to know that it was by far a majority,” Ms Salisbury said.

“I think if it would have been a closer result then there would have been excuses but they can’t ignore it any more.

“There’s a lot of families out there that will be treated as equal now. I’m treated equal now in the eyes of other people. The majority of people have said I’m equal.”

Ms Salisbury, 43, and her partner Chelle, 39, have been together for four years and would like to marry in the future.

“Chelle asked me one day and I said ‘Yes’, but I was of the opinion that if I was going to do it I’m only going to do it once,” she said.

“That’s a personal opinion. I didn’t want to have a ceremony and for it not to be legal. I didn’t want to go to the US or New Zealand and do it then come back and not have those legal things here.”

Ms Salisbury said society was generally a lot more accepting of same-sex couples now than in the past.

“To have nearly 80 per cent of people hand their forms back, it shows most people care,” she said.

“I’m sure nearly everyone knows someone, whether it’s a friend or a relative or a friend of a friend and they’re all just people.

“They’re school teachers, they’re doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re accountants. They’re people who work at fast food outlets, people who save your life. We come in all forms and from all walks of life and we’re all important.”

Kilaben Bay couple Andrew McGrath and Dan Alipate were “relieved” with the result.

“We've got smiles on our faces,” Mr McGrath said. “It's about time. I did not realise I had that much angst about it. I was thinking ‘What if this goes wrong?’

“Then when it was being announced I was in tears I was so relieved, not for us but for everyone.”

Mr McGrath and Mr Alipate have been together for four years and talk often about their future wedding.

Mr McGrath said legalising same sex marriage would help recognise their relationship as just as serious and worthy as unions between a man and a woman.

Read more: Yes Vote – the Hunter reacts to the same-sex marriage result

“We can look at other couples and feel, ‘We're the same as you, we're just normal people’,” he said.

“Good on you, Aussie public. We can all get on with our lives now.”

They were now all hoping the government would legalise same-sex marriage quickly.