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We're one step closer to marriage equality

Phil Wakeling and Rick Buckmaster of Nymboida are ecstatic about the 'yes' vote for marriage equaility.
Phil Wakeling and Rick Buckmaster of Nymboida are ecstatic about the 'yes' vote for marriage equaility.

CELEBRATIONS will be raging throughout the Clarence Valley tonight after the result of the marriage equality survey was announced with more than 60 per cent of Australians voting yes.

More importantly, nearly 60 per cent of Page voters said yes in the postal survey.

Nymboida resident Phillip Wakeling and his partner Rick Buckmaster planned to crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate that they are one step closer to getting married.

"We've still got to wait for the law to change but I've always had it in the back of my mind that this government would never do it,” Mr Wakeling said.

"Maybe that's something I'll have to review. Malcolm Turnbull just has to have the balls to stand up to the conservatives.

"Rick just rang me. We're so happy. It shouldn't have taken this long.”

Mr Wakeling watched the announcement of the result on television and was glad to hear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull say he hoped the legislation would get through by Christmas.

"He's got to get on the tail of those conservatives to get it through,” Mr Wakeling said.

"Some of them are trying to write discriminations into the Marriage Act, which undermines the Anti-Discrimination Act right now.”

While he welcomed the result, Mr Wakeling said he and Mr Buckmaster were in Europe while the the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey was being conducted.

"We were quite happy that we were in Europe,” he said. "We kept in touch on the community but we were quite glad we missed it.

"When we got back, the Anglican Church had spent $1m on the no campaign.”

Member for Page Kevin Hogan couldn't be more pleased with the 80 per cent response to the survey.

"That's more than what vote in general elections around the world,” he said.

"And I'm pleased it is so definitive, if it was 51-49, there would still have been a lot of conjecture. But with a 60-40 vote, the result is definitive.”

Mr Hogan said the postal vote validates the decision for the LGBTQI community.

"If it had been passed by a conscience vote in parliament, this debate would have gone on forever,” he said.

"I supported this process as well. It's not like putting tax rates up and down, this was a cultural shift and it had been this way for thousands of years but this was one of those things that was needed, the postal vote was a valid way to do that.”

With Page voters delivering a 59.7 per cent yes vote, Mr Hogan said he is happy to head to Canberra on Monday week to get the ball rolling on the legislation but said he would like to see religious protections put in place.

"I know colleges who voted no to this, and their intention is that they want to pass this before Christmas because (they know it's what the public want),” he said.

"But if we pass same-sex marriage, we want religion to be protected.

"The working around it needs to protect religious freedoms.

"The state will recognise same-sex marriage but we need to respect the fact the church may not and we need to distinguish between them.”


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