In August the High Court of Australia ruled that it was lawful for the Federal government to hold a voluntary postal vote on same sex marriage. It was a decision I disagreed with. One should never have the right to vote on the human rights of others. In the months that have followed there has been nastiness, violence, intimidation, and fear mongering happening. Brian and I and others in our unit block received nasty hate mail from an anonymous sender. It has been an awful three months and I am sure hundreds of thousands of Australians on both sides of the debate felt bruised by it all.
Today that all came to an end (well this part of it anyways). There were over two point nine million more yes votes then no votes. I am sure it is not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I was happy with these results. However, I do know that almost five million people don't share that point of view and I pray that the rifts caused by this campaign can be mended.
The yes party was a wonderful time. People were anxious before the numbers were announced, but when we were told that yes had won, you could see flags waving, people hugging, people crying. John Paul Young's song, "Love is in the Air" was played over the loudspeakers. Standing beside me was Brian on one side and a young Sikh man on the other. As we talked, he told me that coming out had been very difficult. Although supported by young people at his temple, the elders had told him that he was no longer welcome. In his family, one sister embraced him, but another sister called him disabled and his parents had cut off all contact. He talked about how dangerous it was to be a gay man in his home country of Malaysia. But he said today's vote had shown him that he had made the correct decision and he felt truly affirmed. I very much felt the grace of the spirit at work as I talked to this man in the bright pink turban.
Tonight we decided to go out to eat at one of our favourite restaurants on Oxford street. The restaurant was very busy and we were seated at the end of a large banquet table. Seated next to us was a woman from the outback. She was in Sydney to visit her husband who was in hospital. She shared with us how thrilled she was with the results. She had grown up knowing gays and lesbians and had always been taught that people were all valuable and worthy to be loved. She was proud of her country and was so happy to be part of this celebration. Again we felt very graced by her presence and spent an hour and a half with this stranger.
I am sorry not everyone feels joy today. Some Australians will feel betrayed by this decision. Some pundits will say that this vote was just to appease a special interest group. But today if one looked they would have seen people coming together from all walks of life: the LGBT community, straight community, Aussies, immigrants, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, urbanites, and those from out west. As the music of ABBA and Sister Sledge played in the background, you caught a glimpse of a community united by love. Strangers put aside barriers that divided them and showed that Love Wins. Blessings.