THE Wimmera’s LGBTIQ community believes love has won after the federal government legalised same-sex marriage on Thursday.
After a heated debate, which included two defeated amendments from Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, the bill passed through parliament.
When the vote was declared on the floor of the House, the packed public gallery exploded into cheers and applause, while politicians crossed the chamber to embrace each other.
Wimmera Pride Project co-founder Maddi Ostapiw said she was thrilled that the bill had passed.
She said it had been a long process to resolve. “There have been moments where it has been heartwarming, especially when hearing members of parliament talk about their personal stories,” she said. “But, there were also amendments that were not good to hear about and I am happy they were all moved down.”
Mr Broad moved two amendments to the act, which were both defeated.
His first amendment was based on the principle that what people did in their own homes was their own business. The second centered around charities and religious institutions.
Goroke resident Wanda Jackson, who is transgender, said she was pleased with the result.
“Love has won,” she said.
“It is fantastic news and it will take away a lot of stress and anxiety among young people. It will also help with gender issues, because gender means nothing when you can marry anyone you love.
“This should have happened years ago.”
Former Warracknabeal resident Brock Lynch said Thursday was a historic day for many reasons.
“It was not just about legalising marriage for LGBTIQ people, but about acceptance and saying under law we are all equal,” he said.
“This hasn’t been a journey that only started with the plebiscite, for many of us this has been a battle for years and years.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who love and support me, but unfortunately for many people they didn’t make it.
Mr Lynch said he was proud of the Mallee electorate for voting ‘yes’ in the postal plebiscite.
He said people had underestimated how open-minded and accepting rural voters were.
“Love will always win,” he said.
“I hope Andrew Broad now sits back and realises that overwhelmingly country people have proven we are a force to be reckoned with.
“We won’t stand for prejudice.
“I am so very happy, and I want to say to everyone in the Wimmera who voted yes or supported someone through this process, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Wimmera Pride Project co-founder Loucas Vettos said it was fantastic to end with a great result.
“It was awesome that our headspace Horsham youth group were all together when the verdict came through,” he said.
“Our young ones in Horsham were really excited and it was good to see.”.
Horsham resident Sapphire Faith said the verdict was the first piece of news she heard after finishing work.
She said it was the best way to end the shift.
“I found the most beautiful part of the debate was after the verdict was read and the public viewing audience broke into song,” she said.
The public gallery at parliament sang I am Australian after the bill was passed.
“It was a beautiful show of support and uniting,” Ms Faith said.
In the presence of Primary Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove signed the same-sex bill into law on Friday morning.
Same-sex couples will officially be able to marry from January 9.