Love Wins Again: Gay Marriage Legalized In Australia
For Australia's LGBT community, it has become a very merry Christmas indeed with an even happier New Year to come.
Jubilant lawmakers and citizens alike rejoiced after a bill that officially legalized same-sex unions in the and Down Under was passed in Parliament on December 7, 2017. Many of them shed tears as lawmakers, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, erupted in cheers and applause on this historic day. Some even proudly donned rainbow-colored clothing and brought rainbow flags to wave at cameras, while others took to Oxford Street, the epicenter of Sydney's gay nightlife, to celebrate.
It was a rare moment to witness in Australian Parliament as lawmakers from both ends of the political spectrum appeared to let go of their differences and shared in relative agreement on the issue. Upon its proclamation, Tim Wilson, an openly gay member of Parliament, snuck in a proposal to his long-time partner, Ryan Bolger, during his speech that spoke about his struggles at work and in his personal life that seemed to now melt away with the legalization of gay marriage.
"In my first speech, I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands. That they are the answer to the question we cannot ask. So there's only one thing left to do," Wilson said, clearly holding back a mixture of smiles and tears.
"Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?" he continued.
With a winning grin, Ryan gave him his yes. It was the first of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of marriage proposals that happened that day.
This moment was particularly touching considering that same-sex marriage has been met with fierce debate in Australian Parliament since it was first brought to light in the early 2000s. Attempts to pass the law had been rejected 22 times in the past, according to the New York Times. This time around, only four votes were cast against its passage.
Now, with its passage, gay couples are not only granted equality when it comes to marriage, but also in receiving government and tax benefits as well as employment opportunities. Australian law will also officially redefine marriage, changing it from “the union of a man and a woman,” to “the union of two people.” As if things couldn't be good enough, this law recognizes same-sex unions from other countries as well.
"This is Australia — fair, diverse, loving, and filled with respect for everyone," stated Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a politician known for staunchly supporting LGBTQI rights.
"This is a great day, it belongs to every Australian," he added. The Australian public seem to agree with their Prime Minister's sentiments, with 61.6% of Australians voting in favor of the same-sex marriage law.
Australia's same-sex marriage law will officially take effect on December 9, 2017, and when it comes to setting dates for weddings, same-sex couples can hold ceremonies as early as January 9, 2018 (Australian law requires all engaged couples to provide a full month's notice of their intention to get married). Surely, another month's worth of waiting is bearable in the grander scheme of things.
Australia is 24th country in the world to legalize gay marriage, as illustrated by Pew Research. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize it in 2000, with other nations like South Africa, Canada and the United States, Spain, Norway, Argentina, and Colombia joining in the list, to name a few.
Once again, love has won. And if the rest of the world decides to follow suit, love will surely continue to win again, and again, and again.
Cover image by Getty
Content image by Reuters